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Is this Democracy?

Is this Democracy?

The Italian election through the eyes of an Italian student

News in English

08.01.2018 kl: 9:15

As the election for the new Italian Prime Minister is ahead, citizens are eventually ready to vote again after several years. “Eventually” not because the last mandate is over, that would be almost impossible for the Italian people. Before entering in detail, it might result useful to acknowledge some basic facts.

Italy is defined as a parliamentary Republic with both a Parliament and a Senate. The Prime Minister is elected by a popular election which, however, needs the final approval of the Head of the State (better known as the President of the Republic) along with a vote of the Parliament. As the Prime Minister party rarely reaches the majority requested to lead the Parliament, there is often the need of creating alliances and coalitions between different parties which normally have programs more or less in line. As a consequence of not having complete control of the parliament, the Prime Minister is exposed to the uncertainty of being kicked out and replaced. Indeed, it is interesting how none of the Italian Prime Ministers ever ended a mandate; Silvio Berlusconi still detains the record of almost 4 years in a row (2001-2005) out of the 5 expected instead. Briefly explained, Parliament members have the power to grant, through a 2/3 majority vote, the so called “trust”, or in other words, to decide whether the Prime Minister should still be in charge of the office or not. In the case of “mistrust”, what happened next is held by the Head of State, who must nominate all the Ministers in charge again, keeping all the rest unchanged (number of parliament seats for any party included). As a consequence, Italian citizens often vote one time every three/four governments. The last vote was in 2013, however, on that occasion, the majority was not obtained by any party and no coalition was created, therefore, already at the time, the Head of the State created the Government himself (as if the vote was almost meaningless). As a matter of fact, the last time Italian citizens voted “successfully” was in favour of the last (and I personally hope the very last) Berlusconi Government on the 2008, nearly 10 years ago. In between, the Head of State nominated exactly four different Governments: Mario Monti, Enrico Letta, Matteo Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni, the current Prime Minister.

Now I wonder, can this be still considered a Democracy? By definition, the word democracy comes from the Greek dēmokratía, literally “rule of the people”. Therefore, a democracy represents a political system in which people are in charge of creating a government either directly through a universal vote or indirectly through representatives who, however, are directly elected. Yes, the Italian political system should be considered as a Democracy in charge of protecting the rights of its citizens. Nevertheless, Italian people are less and less confident in the system in “office”, as it does not guarantee the direct choice of their representatives every time. A democracy gives power to the people, but if the people do not feel to have it, can this be still considered a real democracy in the facts and not only on the papers?

Delta i debatten

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