WHERE DOES THE NEW ITALIAN CONSTITUTION LEAD THE COUNTRY An exclusive interview with Professor Saverio Ruperto on the reform of the basic Charter

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The Italian Parliament spoke out: last Tuesday’s vote on the Boschi Bill, which was meant to amend the Constitution, was finally approved by the House. In the fall (perhaps in October) Italians will be called on to decide whether or not to confirm this new fundamental charter. Interris.it does not have a position on the matter, but it has decided to open up to an exchange of ideas with technicians and experts in order to inform citizens on the text that will be submitted to consultation. Let us begin with Saverio Ruperto, civil law professor at the Sapienza University of Rome and former Deputy Minister of the Monti government, son to Cesare Ruperto, and former president of the Constitutional Court.

Professor Ruperto, the Constitution has been repeatedly questioned over the last few years. Do you also believe that its 1948 set up has become obsolete?

“In my opinion, the 1948 Charter is still extremely topical as far as its first part is concerned. When it comes to fundamental rights and civil relations, it is better to avoid overly incisive interventions. As to the part concerning the functioning of the State, intervention was essential, indeed.”

The greatest novelty is the abolition, or rather, the transformation of the Senate. Do you think this step was necessary?

“I support a reform that goes in the direction of unicameralism. Actually, they could have made an even more incisive one. Because a rigidly bicameral system was justified in 1948, in the aftermath of the loss of an authoritarian regime. The parliamentary system was needed to guarantee democracy. Now, many years later, this system proves to be a bit too cumbersome, slowing down legislative processes with obvious alterations, such as an excessive resort to the vote of confidence.”

Would this reform help us get in line with other big democracies?

“In some ways, we even go ahead of the other countries, witnessing a modernity that was necessary. I would even go deeper. I would have thought of an autonomies Chamber instead of the regional councils, so as to simplify the Regions system.”

The new Constitution would extend immunity to the representatives of the regions in the Senate. Considering that corruption phenomena are mainly detected on a territorial level, does it seem an appropriate choice to you?

“It is a reasonable concern which is legitimately raised. The problem stems from the fact that the new Senate will not only be an autonomies Chamber, but will also have preserved other powers, closer to the parliamentarian. This, ultimately, justifies the subsistence of immunity. If an autonomies Senate had been established, such prerogatives would have been excluded”.

From senators for life to 5 senators appointed for seven years by the President of the Republic. Would it not have been more honest if this figure had been totally eliminated?

“This choice stemmed from the fact that no life tenure is perceived as socially appropriate in modern society. They opted for a middle solution, which is still reasonable: giving the head of state the ability to appoint these senators. A power that corresponds to the choice of our founding fathers. The limited time is designed in order not to provide position incomes, so there is no coincidence between the duration of the elective office and that of these senators.”

Today is going to be born a Constitution that is not shared by most of the representatives of the citizens, unlike what happened in ’48. Could they have used more caution?

“We cannot compare exponents of today’s politics with those of ‘48. Every epoch expresses its representatives, provided with the reformative power of the Constitution. Back in ’48 – fortunately and I stress it – the conditions were not the same as today. But grounding a reason to oppose the reform in this supposed diversity and trustworthiness seems manipulative and even a little childish to me. It would become the old Italian-style method not to do anything. Also because the idea of the constituents have often considered over the years, but it has always wrecked. This time a different method was used, but it worked.”

The new Constitution will no longer require 50 thousand signatures in order to present a parliamentary initiative bill, but 150 thousand. Does it not make this tool still less accessible?

“Personally, I would have introduced twice as many signatures, not only the 150,000 proposed in the reform. But I would have simplified the process for reaching approval. Once the popular initiative bill, which has been filed in parliament and has passed all the controls, if it is not assessed within a certain period of time, or rejected with explanations, it should be considered as approved. That is, it should be submitted to the President of the Republic for promulgation.”

Have you discussed the reform with your father? Do you share the same positions?

“I have often debated with him, especially in relation to the process of law creation. I would have been even more shameless in attributing to the government a power of independent legislative initiative, so as to avoid the slavish use of the vote of confidence. My father is more cautious. He supports the choice the way it has been done. I would have dared more.”

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