The constitutional referendum: a milestone for the future of Italy

EPA/ANGELO CARCONI

Italian Minister for Reforms, Maria Elena Boschi, during the Italian RAI Tv program "Porta a porta"

The constitutional referendum: a milestone for the future of Italy


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The election campaign for the upcoming December 4 constitutional referendum is proceeding in an uncertain climate with polls oscillating like a pendulum – one day on one side and the following day on the other. Actually, half of the citizens are in favour, the other half is against the reform and 30% of citizens do not know how they will vote.

Many political events, speeches and press releases on the referendum are becoming inflamed from one day to the next, with hundreds of political declarations from which paradoxical and sometimes comical positions emerge. It is unbelievable, for example, that someone like Massimo D’Alema, the former Secretary of the Democratic Party (PD), is against the reform despite the fact that he is a member of the same party of the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi who proposed the constitutional reform. According to D’Alema, the reform is illogical and nonsense, and in addition, he claims that the reform will be voted only by the elderly because they have a cognitive decline, thus forgetting his age!

People are still confused and this confusion is generated on purpose by those who support the “No” vote in the referendum. It is typical of the Italian style that the campaign, instead of dealing with the merits of the reform, is dominated by emotional and sometimes hysterical behaviour and every day we see on TV personal fights between old and new politicians.

In addition, people in Italy are tired of watching endless debates and fighting between representatives of different currents of the same party and also between different parties. Therefore, many people, instead of concentrating the discussion on the essence of the constitutional reform, are improperly taking this as an opportunity to attack with bias Renzi’s government. Therefore, an heterogeneous jumble of parties,  which in reality have nothing to do amongst themselves, like Grillo’s 5 star Movement, the Lega of Matteo Salvini, Forza Italia party will vote “No” in the referendum.

In addition, for the “No” there stands in an incomprehensible way a small component of the ruling party, including D’Alema and Bersani, the former Secretaries of this party, who one day declare they will vote for the “No” in the referendum and the next day they say they will vote “Yes” if they obtain some changes in the election law.

So, on one side there are those people who want to combat Renzi’s government, and on the other side, there are those who in a responsible way think of the advantages of approving the new Constitution and ensuring the government’s stability and the country’s welfare. Luckily, Matteo Renzi recently declared that independently of the results of the referendum he will continue to be the leader of the government for the benefit of Italy. His position was reinforced after the recent successful meeting with US President Barack Obama who endorsed his constitutional reforms, which he said are of fundamental importance for the future of Italy. Naturally, the constitutional reform will render Italy stronger and more authoritative in Europe and will attract many foreign investors.

Personally, after 10 years of political life in the Forza Italia party, I immediately decided to support the constitutional reform and with Mr. Carmelo Pujia, the former undersecretary of the ex-Christian Democrats, we have decided to found the “Movimento Sì per l’Italia” which is rapidly spreading from Calabria, South of Italy, to Rome and other northern regions. Therefore, as a member of the Forza Italia party, I have officially asked President Silvio Berlusconi to leave the freedom of vote to the Forza Italia supporters. The recent meeting between Berlusconi and Hon. Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic, will open new channels of collaboration to avoid any political crisis after the referendum and to improve the reformatory process by seriously ameliorating the new election law (the so called “Italicum”).

I was also very pleased that other outstanding members of Forza Italia like Marcello Pera, the former President of the Senate, as well as Giuliano Urbani, one of the main founders of Forza Italia in 1994, have created a National Committee “Liberi Sì” in which they call on those on the centre-right, particularly those voting for Forza Italia, to vote “Yes” in the referendum, fearing after so many years a new failure for the constitutional reform.  We think that in favour of the referendum will vote in a transversal way people of different parties who care to carry on with the reforms in the general interest of Italy. The cornerstone of the reform, in fact, is to improve the actual Constitution. Primarily, the new reform will allow us to overcome the equal bicameralism and to have only one chamber that will make laws with greater rapidity, efficiency in the superior interest of citizens.

In addition, the number of parliament members will be reduced drastically with the reduction of the number of senators (now 315) and with great savings for the state. Naturally, many of the actual senators are pathologically linked to their seat and they will oppose the constitutional reform until their last breath. In addition, the constitutional reform will ameliorate the relations between the state and regions in order to avoid long-standing conflicts and controversies. I personally find it absurd that nowadays a small region of Italy has the power to make laws in areas of the national and international interest in opposition to European directives already approved by Italy! In many sectors, like environment, energy, transports and pharmaceutical, today there is a continuous conflict of legislative competencies between state and regions and this blocks also foreign investments in Italy. As a pharmacologist, I cannot understand why in Italy it is possible that different regions are allowed to make laws in the pharmaceutical field and ignore the equality principle of the fundamental rights (health) of citizens. In fact, today some important lifesaving drugs are present in the therapeutic medicines lists of some regions but not on others and paradoxically a single region can put different prices for drugs in comparison to other regions.

I met for the first time last June Maria Elena Boschi, the Reform Minister, and I was deeply impressed by her brilliant intelligence coupled with a humble character. She is now fighting with great courage like a lioness explaining to the Italians in Italy and abroad, from the United States to Latin America, the real reasons for which Italians should vote “Yes” in the referendum in order to render Italy a more modern and more efficient country. Also, thousands of qualified people from universities and the research world and many people who work in different productive fields are in favour of the constitutional reform in order to reduce the bureaucratic procedures and allow, in this way, the growth of our country.

Should the ‘No” vote prevail in the referendum, this will be like an earthquake and as all earthquakes will bring only human and economic disasters. In fact, in this case emotion and instinct will prevail over reason and irrational behaviour will be self-destructive and will create a political chaos with consequences that cannot be completely foreseen. On the contrary, rationality should always prevail and make people to think that in the terrible period that we are living with the dramatic economic crisis, the challenge of immigration of millions of people from Africa and countries engulfed in war and the dramatic attacks of the crazy followers of ISIS’ black caliphate, the only possibility to face and defeat these situations in Italy, but also in other countries in Europe, will be to ensure strong and large coalition governments.

Renzi has so far demonstrated to be a super party leader and to benefit from European and international prestige, thus he deserves to win the referendum challenge to get more force and prestige in Europe and to continue his fight against bureaucracy and in favour of greater flexibility for the growth of Italy and other European countries to defeat unemployment especially among young people. This is my opinion, but more important this is why Renzi was praised and acclaimed by approximately 50,000 people, women and men especially young people, as the real leader of the Italian politics during his speech on the reasons in favour of the referendum on a sunny afternoon at the famous splendid Piazza del Popolo in Rome during a gathering of thousands waving flags.

 

 

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