IT’S NOT A CAN OF TUNA! (by P. Becchi and G. Palma)

For a reasoned, constructive and not ideological NO , aimed at saving Parliament from the lockdown of democracy , we report below – in summary – twelve reasons to say No to the reduction in the number of parliamentarians, widely discussed in our book published in mid-February " A wrong reform. Twelve reasons to say No to the cut of parliamentarians ", Gds, published in an updated and corrected edition a few days ago:

  1. NO because it is an oligarchic reform that strongly compresses democratic representation and its exercise. The legislative function will in fact be exercised by just 600 parliamentarians out of 60 million resident citizens. A drastic reduction compared to the current 945. Similar to this reform is that proposed by the Masonic lodge "propaganda 2" by Licio Gelli , which provided for an even less invasive reduction (450 deputies and 250 senators) and with corrective measures that – at least in theory – balanced cutting. Gelli also proposed – in parallel with the reduction in the number of parliamentarians – an electoral law similar to the German one: it is therefore no coincidence that, for eight months, a draft law called "Germanicum", an electoral system proportional with a threshold of 5%, similar to the German system even if without the single-member districts. In practice, after almost fifty years, none other than the subversive project of P2 could go ahead;
  2. NO, because important political decisions will end up being available to a small number of elected representatives. The decisions in the Commission will be adopted at Palazzo Madama by sessions composed no longer of 20-25 senators as happens today, but of 10-12 senators, or even fewer. It could even go up to 6 in case of absences, with the majority approving with just 4 votes. Faced with this criticality, it was necessary to approve, before the referendum, a modification of the parliamentary regulations that would maintain the current numerical composition of the Commissions even in the event of a confirmatory outcome of the referendum. The modification of the regulations would come into force with the possible entry into force of the "cut". And yet nothing has been done, so much so that – if the Yes wins – the Legislature will necessarily have to go on until the amendments to the parliamentary regulations are approved;
  3. NO because there is the risk that the figure of the Head of State ends up in the decision-making perimeter of the parties of the government majority alone. Faced with a reduction in the number of parliamentarians, in the presence of electoral laws that do not reflect the real popular will, the figure of the President of the Republic could seriously end up in the availability of the leaders of the parliamentary majority. It was therefore necessary to provide for a balance mechanism such as that of raising the parliamentary majorities for the election of the President. Furthermore, the reform has reduced the number of parliamentarians by about 40% but has not reduced the number of regional delegates called to participate in the election of the Head of State, giving them a greater specific weight than that of the Chambers. Basically, from the fourth vote onwards, the tenant of the Colle will be elected with just over 330 votes (today no less than 505 votes are needed, again from the fourth vote onwards);
  4. NO because , especially in the Senate, representation will be sacrificed in a truly unacceptable way. The art. 57 of the Constitution establishes that senators are elected on a regional basis. This means that, with a Senate of 200 members (196 those elected in Italy), the lists that will see the seats assigned will be only the most voted ones, above about 10-15%, leaving several lists outside Palazzo Madama , even if with consents higher than the possible barrier threshold. With fewer parliamentary seats available, it is clear that the only lists that obtain the highest number of consents will be entitled to the allocation of seats on a regional basis, while the minor ones – even if they exceed the threshold – will be denied the right to represent their constituents at Palazzo Madama;
  5. NO because it facilitates situations in which parliamentarians elected in the foreign constituency are decisive for the formation and maintenance of governments, distorting the national electoral result. In the presence of proportional electoral laws, even if with high thresholds, the parliamentarians elected abroad could be decisive both in the formation of governments and in the reversal of electoral results. It has already happened in the Senate in 2006 when the formation of the government was possible only thanks to the decisive votes of the senators elected abroad. This aspect becomes even more marked in a numerically resized Senate, where the Foreign District – in a chamber elected with proportional electoral law – could take on an even more incisive if not decisive role;
  6. NO because it has kept the number of senators for life unchanged despite the reduction of about 40% in the number of elected senators, making the first ones decisive in the formation and maintenance of governments. The specific weight of senators for life has almost doubled, therefore their vote will be decisive – especially if the Senate is elected with proportional electoral laws – in every passage of the classroom and commissions. This aspect becomes even more critical if the elected senators were, rather than directly elected by the people, "appointed" by the party secretariats through electoral laws such as those of the last fifteen years, thus making the Senate a chamber of a few elected and many "nominated ";
  7. NO because it lacks adequate institutional checks and balances capable of adequately balancing the lower parliamentary representation. Reforming the Constitution means creating new, balanced institutional arrangements, and not simply reducing numbers and seats at random. We are the only country in Europe to have two chambers that have the same functions. The cut of parliamentarians had to be tackled at the same time as overcoming the equal bicameralism, aiming for a Senate of the Regions reduced in numbers. Faced with the cut of about 40% of the numerical composition of the Chambers, it was also necessary to study corrective systems such as the introduction in Establishment of elements of direct democracy (eg consultative and proactive referendums) and possibly also provide for the direct election of the President of the Republic as happens in the USA. None of this has been done;
  8. NO because it leaves the constitutional review procedure at the mercy of a small number of deputies and senators. The constitutional revision procedure, dictated by Article 138 of the Constitution, provides for two different resolutions of both Chambers at a distance of not less than three months from each other. In the passages of the first resolution, the majority of those present is sufficient, in the double passage of the second resolution, at least the majority of the members of both branches of Parliament is required. This means that if in second deliberation the amendments to the Charter can be approved in theory with just 302 votes in favor (201 deputies and 101 senators), in first deliberation the text will be dismissed with only the majority of those present, that is, in extreme cases with just 101 votes in the House and 51 in the Senate. In short, the Constitution will essentially be in the hands of the party leaders of the majority in turn;
  9. NO because together with electoral laws that provide for blocked lists and nominated candidates, or particularly high thresholds, it deprives the people of the right to be adequately represented in the parliamentary halls. For fifteen years now, electoral laws have been in force in Italy that deprive the voter of the possibility of choosing parliamentarians directly. So much so that ten days ago and PD M5S approved by the Constitutional Affairs Committee in the House the basic text of the new electoral law (Germanicum Brescellum or, if you prefer) which provides the LISTINI BLOCKED, ie the famous APPOINTED. After the referendum, the text will be examined by the Chambers. If you pass the Yes to the referendum of 20 and 21 September, it is reasonable to think that the next Legislature will be composed of only the nominated. Here is the new "caste", the pentastellate one and the Dem that makes institutions, primarily Parliament, a numerically reduced enclosure of new privileged people. Not the "caste" was defeated, only some of its protagonists were changed;
  10. NO because , in comparison with other European states, Italy would be one of the nations with the lowest number of parliamentarians in proportion to the number of inhabitants. In France they have one parliamentarian for every 72,000 inhabitants, in Great Britain one for every 46,000, in Sweden one for every 29,000, in Norway one for every 32,000. Italy, with the cut, would have one every 100 thousand. Worse than us, on paper, only Germany, which nevertheless has a federal institutional system capable of adequately correcting a lower representation on a national basis. Those who instead defend the "cut", taking as an example the American system, where just 535 parliamentarians (435 deputies and 100 senators) represent 327 million inhabitants, forget to mention that in the USA the direct election of the Head of the State (which is also Head of Government), through the system of Grand Electors, where each federal state has a significant specific weight. Moreover, a fact which is anything but secondary, in the United States of America the Congress is elected with the electoral system of single-member constituencies in a single round, where the territories have their own representatives directly elected and not appointed as has been the case in Italy since 2005 in come on. The comparison with the USA by the supporters of the Yes does not hold up for another reason: the United States of America is a federal republic , where each federated state has its own national parliaments composed of an adequate number of representatives, therefore each state it has exclusive legislative power on several matters which are not within the competence of the Federation. In Italy, on the other hand, the Regions do not enjoy the same degree of autonomy as the US federated states. Just as an example, the House of Representatives of the State of Vermont has 150 deputies out of just 625,000 inhabitants, that is, one MP for every 4,200 inhabitants;
  11. NO because it concentrates representation in the most populous areas of the country, to the detriment of those with fewer inhabitants but territorially larger , and also does not adequately protect linguistic minorities , so much so that regions such as Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Sardinia – where most of the linguistic and dialectal minorities reside – will not be adequately represented. The relationship that arises between parliamentary representation and territorial contexts following the entry into force of the reform, outlines not negligible distorting effects especially due to the depopulation that has occurred in the last decades of entire territorial areas of the country, mainly in the South and in the Apennine areas;
  12. NO because the relationship between the elected and the elector will become even weaker and this will further favor the detachment of citizens from politics and institutions , increasing abstention. Nobody denies that there is a crisis of the representative democratic systems and of the Parliament, but it is difficult to think that this crisis can be addressed by further weakening the Parliament. The now widespread phenomenon of the "flight from the polls", of political apathy, already present in our country (from 1992 to 2018 the turnout in political elections decreased by more than 14%), will continue even stronger than before: if the elected person – who will largely be a "nominated" – must represent a very high number of voters, it is clear that many citizens will no longer feel represented and will not go to vote, considering themselves excluded from active and concrete participation in democratic life of the country. Furthermore, among the reasons that in recent decades have distanced citizens from politics, there is also the question of the privileges and costs of the Chambers. So much so that one of the (few) reasons of the supporters of the Yes is that of the savings that would derive from the cut in the number of parliamentarians: 300,000 euros a day, says Di Maio, that is 109,500,000 euros a year. Numbers that throw smoke in the eyes : if you divide the total sum by 60 million inhabitants, the savings are just 1 euro and 83 cents a year each. Cracking democracy for a Capuchin a year per citizen? Not really a brilliant idea.

For these reasons, today and tomorrow (20 and 21 September) vote NO! To save Parliament, to save representative democracy, to avoid the lockdown of democracy.

Parliament is not a can of tuna.

by Paolo Becchi and Giuseppe Palma

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This is a machine translation of a post published on Scenari Economici at the URL on Sun, 20 Sep 2020 11:58:04 +0000.