Citizens must be able to choose

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Improvements in the operating procedures inside the Parliament must go hand in hand with the overcoming of the perfect bicameral system that has always characterized our parliamentary system. Renzi has decided to go on and relaunch his commitment on reforms. It looks like he was right. The country’s desire for change touches also these topics.

As I see it, the great achievement of the European vote, 40.8 percent for Democratic Party, meets this widespread request for more innovative institutions, capable of making decisions.  Many people have asked me why have we not chosen a path of governmental initiative, both on the forms and, more importantly, on the electoral law.

As to the latter, I am giving a firm answer: in my opinion, it simply does not fall within the Parliament’s competence, but within that of the government. I know, for many it is a secondary, formal question. I prefer to think that it has to do with the reflection of a different political culture, based on a more intransigent vision of the relations between the executive and legislative powers. A reflection which applies also to the path concerning institutional reforms that, from my point of view, the government must accompany, give a rhythm to or even make it faster, but never impose. We are talking about a constitutional process.

And Italy has already paid a high price in the past for the insane choice – of the moderate right as well as of the moderate left, with regard to Title V – to do, between the years 2001 and 2006, constitutional reforms, then electoral laws by simple majority. In particular, to make them with the conviction of overwhelming the political opponents not with the contents of their policies but by writing rules. This is perhaps one of the lowest points of Italian politics, a descent to hell. The Italian Parliament can now come out of it or repeat its own mistake and sink again. What matters, in my opinion, is the quality of comparison and the size of the parliamentary consensus.

Sure, there will be a referendum to confirm them. A referendum that would have been held in any case. But neither the path nor the quality of the text (and consequently the entire institutional architecture designed in it), which will undergo the judgment of the citizens, seem to be negligible details to me. Because it is obvious that the merit of the reforms is significant. And it is important to make things as soon as possible, but it is important also to do them well. A botched reform, or even unbalanced, blocks the system instead of speeding it up. And, most importantly, it deteriorates the quality of democracy.

What should we ask of the complex institutional reforms and electoral law, then? Besides overcoming the equal bicameral system, I think that the priority goals must be the consolidation of the competitive democracy, and more room for democracy. That is to say, the chance to choose for the citizens both the government proposal, and its own representatives. Competitive democracy – the comparison between alternative proposals – has a short tradition in Italy, which must be continued and consolidated. Put otherwise, we need a strong and stable government and a system of well-structured controls and balances, from an equally strong and legitimate Parliament.

Taken from “Going together, going far”

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