The Italian Referendum


The Italian Referendum

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

A lot of the states in the U.S. have referendum process. In California, where I live, it is an oft abused process but I’m not sure how it works in the other states. Here it seems to be most often a cynical way for monied interests (is this a surprise ?) to get some advantage buy selling a gullible public a lot of half truths. In Italy it seems to be different as well as rare. In Italy the referendum is used to nullify laws made by the government in power. An additional requirement is that over 50% (actually 50% + 1) of all eligible voters must vote in the referendum election to have a quorum. Otherwise there is no action taken. Since 1995 no referendum has managed to pass this hurdle – until now. On June 13 three referendum items were voted upon and 57% of the voters went to the polls. Note that a vote of YES (SI’) means to nullify a law. So here is the rundown.

So what were the issues. Well, Italy is generally anti- nuclear when it comes to power but the Berlusconi and his gang were plowing ahead anyway. So one of these was to stop the progress of nuclear power.

The second one was quite amazing. The Berlusconi government had decided that all of the water supplies in the country should be privatized. Yes, just think of it. Your friendly local utility company or perhaps your beloved telephone company would be selling you water. And we of course know how much they care about their fellow human beings.

The third was a law that had been made specifically for the benefit of Berlusconi. Berlusconi is clearly a scoundrel. He has been in all kinds of legal difficulties. Bribery, corruption and sex with minors all seem like fairly serious items. However the government under Il Cavaliere’s ( The Cavalier – the nickname for big the B) control passed a law making him immune from prosecution while in office. Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad if there were an impeachment process but there is not. So it effectively allows him to do whatever he wants and just thumb his nose at everyone (or give the Italian equivalent of the “finger”).

So the results were in on the 14th. All three laws were nullified by an enormous 95% of all of those who voted. Finally perhaps the Italians are fed up with Berlusconi’s shenanigans.

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