Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Art of Muzzling the Parliament


(Krembo1, dog face)



[Edoardo Montenegro, Turin] - The Italian Parliament has lost any power.

The President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano reported that: "the role of the Parliament has been heavily compressed" (1). The President of the Chamber of Deputies Gianfranco Fini warned that the Parliament is actually not working. As a matter of fact, from January 1st the Chamber of Deputies has worked only 305 hours, while the Senate has worked for just 179 hours (2). How can all this happen in a parlamentary republic?

According to the Constitution: "Legislative power may not be delegated to the Government unless Parliament specifies principles and criteria of guidance, and only for limited time and well-specified subjects" (3). Besides, even if: "As an exception by necessity and urgency, Government may issue provisional measures with the force of law and submits them on the same day to the Chambers for confirmation. [...] Legal decrees lose effect at the date of issue if they are not confirmed within sixty days of their publication" (4).

Enhancing a previously established trend and reversing the Constitution, the Parliament - whose trust the Prime Minister depends on (5) - is meeting mainly to approve the decrees of the Government, while it almost absteins itself from taking any legislative initiative on its own.

This is not surprising, Silvio Berlusconi having repeatedly explained the Italian Parliament to be "plethoric" and "counter-productive" (6). Recent reports say that while considering how to face the current political scandals, he described his strategy in case of elections as follows: "I will make a clean-up. I will ricandidate only a dozen of current deputies and senators" (6).

Emperor Caligula tried to turn his horse into a consul. We must admit that Silvio Berlusconi went further and made the Parliament his running dog. The judgement, as always, is left to history.

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(1) "si realizza una pesante compressione del ruolo del Parlamento" ("Decreti legge, Napolitano alle Camere: compresso il ruolo del Parlamento", lastampa.it, May 22nd 2010).

(2) Carmelo Lopapa, "La settimana corta del Parlamento. 16 ore alla Camera, 9 al Senato", repubblica.it, May 18th 2010.

(3) "L'esercizio della funzione legislativa non può essere delegato al Governo se non con determinazione di principi e criteri direttivi e soltanto per tempo limitato e per oggetti definiti" (Constitution of the Italian Republic, art. 76).

(4) "Quando, in casi straordinari di necessità e d'urgenza, il Governo adotta, sotto la sua responsabilità, provvedimenti provvisori con forza di legge, deve il giorno stesso presentarli per la conversione alle Camere [...]. I decreti perdono d'efficacia sin dall'inizio, se non sono convertiti in legge entro sessanta giorni dalla loro pubblicazione." (Constitution of the Italian Republic, art. 77).

(5) "Government has to enjoy the confidence of both chambers." ("Il Governo deve avere la fiducia delle due Camere", Constitution of the Italian Republic, art. 94).

(6) "They will say that I offend the Parliament, but this this the hard fact: plethoric assemblies are useless and even counter-productive" ("Ora diranno che offendo il Parlamento, ma questa è la pura realtà: le assemblee pletoriche sono inutili e addirittura controproducenti", "Berlusconi attacca i giudici e il Parlamento. ANM: metodi distruttivi", rainews24.rai.it, May 21st 2010).

(7) "Le prossime liste le farò io personalmente - ha avvertito -. farò piazza pulita. Ricandiderò solo una dozzina dei deputati e senatori uscenti." (Claudio Tito, "Il Cavaliere e l'incubo Letta. 'Qualcuno vuole coinvolgere Gianni'", repubblica.it, May 15th 2010).

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