For months Italian politics has been dominated massively by the mantra of “doing the Reforms”. One of the arguments is that all the world is looking at us, waiting for us to upgrade our system from a slow one, into a fast track decision making one, led substantially by the Government [it is already so, but… who cares about the truth in “post-truth” world?] instead of the perfect double Chambers Parliament (“bicameralismo perfetto”).
Matteo Renzi played this game as Prime Minister along these years in a such a way that he was happy that his Reform of the Constitution did not pass with 2/3 of the Parliament. He was eager in going therefore to a special Referendum to approve the proposal passed in the Parliament by a lower share of votes. Renzi was confident to win this in a plebiscite mode, whereas all polls now foresee a “plebishit” for him. Renzi made several mistakes, and I’d like to list some of them.
1) He pretended to adjunct a new – compulsory to be done – electoral law, claiming that even though an electoral law is not a constitutional reform, it has the same status (“rango costituzionale”). This was a deep mistake, as the Referendum campaign became soon an arena of political bargaining. Now they are screaming that the electoral law is no more (politically) in the package;
2) Renzi publicised the Reform as his Reform, bidding an “all in” move. At a certain point he also said that he would leave politics forever in case of defeat.
3) Although being for many months ahead in polls, his bold attitude has a twofold outcomes:
3.1) He has been able to group all the possible political spectrum, especially within his own Party, against him.
3.2) He behaved like a cyclist sprinter, but only a little too far from the finish line. Would you sprint 80km far from there as you were 1km far from glory? I would say it was quite foolish;
4) He left much of the Campaign to his Minister for Reforms, Mrs Boschi, who turned to be extremely inadequate in communicating.
5) He believed, like the Italian left in 2001, that an anti-system Party (in 2001 secessionist Lega Nord; today populist M5S) can be phased out and caught out guard proposing some of what they claim as revolutionary (and impossible). In 2001 the Constitutional Reform did not work that well, even though politically Lega Nord was actually disoriented by the move for a while. Today none is caring about the repeal of CNEL body (one of the examples of “cutting the costs of politics”; I may agree this as 99.9% of Italian public opinion, I may just add that I have been consultant there for two years and I also know why it should repealed). The reason is in the following point.
6) The heart of the Reform in my analysis is the downgrade of the Parliament in favour of the Government. The change of the Senate (despite my following point) simply kills the Chamber of the elder politicians, those who have few to ask in terms of career that they are the freer too. It is quite weird that if you claim to cut seats, you cut only some of them in the less crowded one. The reason in my opinion is the following. Renzi does not want to change the “Camera dei Deputati”, as there younger politicians go. That chamber remains with 600+ seats as all the Parties need obedient people and both more seats to compel people to obey.
7) The new text of the Constitution is written in such a way that really not an expert may understand it.
8) The pics I upload here even show that the English translation of the campaign is not always accurate, and probably if you look at this Reform from abroad the “Yes” campaigner will introduce it in such a way that is not “neutral”. This is a problem when Consulates are used to this regard (not here in UK by the way).
9) To “simplify the dynamic between Regions and Central State” is another mantra. This is a quite typical post-truth point, as at the same time Renzi pretends to solve a problem raised decades earlier when none was able to pass a Constitutional Reform, and at the same time wants to correct the Constitutional Reform of 2001. In my experience as teacher at Sapienza University, I would say that the Reform would only open a new complex and inefficient phase of implementation, resolving very few. On the contrary, I would foresee new forms of problems.
10) Campaigner of “YES” have been very disappointing and not respectful of public opinion, even though I must say that many of the “NO” as well have been the same.
11) Why the Reform then? Cui prodest? I bet money that at least in part the point for Renzi was to make things like TTIP and CETA pass in Italy without problems in the Parliament. The move is (was!) somehow rational, but now, with Donald Trump in the new Golden&Ivory House in Washington DC, is it still so urgent to modify the Constitution for this? I don’t really think so, even though I may appreciate that a “neutral” tv channel like La7 is continuing to have a substantially pro-yes stance. Very funny.
The Committee for the “YES” likes to explain the Reform in four points. This brief post lists more points. Do I win?
Attached you may find who a mail vote is and how was the PD contextual campaign (No easy Renzi’s letters in UK. The is a fax-simile of a “yes” by the way)