Italy: legal designs on the local level

In a referendum in 1946, the Italians decided in favor of a republic and the abolition of the monarchy. However, it took until 1974 to resume direct democratic practice. Since then, Italy has seen more than 70 votes on the national level and also numerous votes on the subnational level. 

On the national level, we find two main legal designs, which are formal coded: The the constitional referendum according to Art. 138 of the Italian Constitution and the Referendum aborgativo according to Art. 75. Due to their different mechanism of launching a vote, both instruments are seperated into two versions each. 

In terms of voting practice, the main instrument in Italy is the Referendum abogativo (Art. 75). "Abrogare" means to repeal or to abolish. With this device entire laws or also only parts of single laws can be abolished. It can be launched by two ways. The first is the collection of 500.000 signatures. This option is covered in the Navigator by the "Popular or Citizen Initiated Referendum" (PCR) mentioned below. The other way of launching is by the Request of five Regional Councils. These are the parliamentary assemblies of the 20 Regions in Italy. So this second option is part of vertical structure of the state. In the Navigator typology we cover this as a proper legal design: Auhorities Minority Plebiscite (MTP). 

The second main instrument is the constitutional referendum, which has been used only a few times. Article 138 of the constitution states that at the request of 500.000 eligible voters, five regional councilors or one fifth of the members of a parliamentary chamber, an amendment to the constitution in addition to its adoption in parliament will be submitted to the electorate for ratification. However, if a super majority of two thirds of the MPs confirm the constitutional amendment in the second reading, there will be no referendum. 

In the Navigator we cover this special construction in two types of legal design. On the one hand, the constitional referendum can be classified as a Popular or citizen-initiated referendum [PCR] and on the other hand again as an
Authorities' minority plebiscite [MTP] .

Besides the two instruments of direct legislation we also find a third device on the national level: The Agenda Setting Initiative (PAX). 

For further information please see this literature:

- Barbera, Augusto/Morrone, Andrea (2003): La repubblica dei referendum, Bologna.

- Giovine, Alfonso di (2001): Democrazia diretta e sistema politico, Milan.

-  Tacchi, Paola (1996): La partitocrazia contro il Referendum o il Referendum contro la Partitocrazia, Milan.

- Uleri, Pier Vincenzo (1994): Dall’instaurazione alla crisi democratica. Un analisi in chiave comparata del fenomeno referendario in Italia (1946-93), in: Caciagli, Mario/Uleri, Pier Vincenzo (Hrsg.), Democrazie e Referendum, Rome, 390-429.

- Uleri, Pier Vincenzo (1996): Italy: The referendums and initiatives from the origins to the crisis of a democratic regime, in: Gallagher, Michael/Uleri, Pier Vincenzo (Hrsg.), The Referendum Experience in Europe, Houndmill, 106-125.

- Uleri, Pier Vincenzo (2002): On referendum voting in Italy: YES, NO or non-vote? How Italian parties learned to control referendums, European Journal of Political Research (6), 863-884.

- Uleri, Pier Vincenzo (2003): Referendum e Democrazia. Una prospettiva comparata, Bologna.