History of Italy / Politics

The legislative power of the Italian Government

The separation of powers is supposed to be something very neat and simple: the Parliament legislates, the Government enforces the laws, the Judiciary enforces the laws as well, but from an impartial position and (at least ordinarily) only after a controversy between two or more parts has begun.

Of course, the reality is different, and in many countries the Government has some sort of legislative power. Pursuant to the Italian Constitution, the Government can legislate by decree on the basis of a legislative delegation by the Parliament or “in extraordinary cases of necessity and urgency”. These Emergency Decrees must be converted into law by the Parliament in 60 days, or they will cease their effects retroactively.

The point is that the Government always legislates by Emergency Decree, since the antics of the Parliamentary Regulations made the approval of Bills, including Legislative Delegation Bills, exceedingly long and complicated. The Constitutional Court, while reacting to some blatant abuses, has refused to annul Emergency Decrees enacted without any ongoing emergency, and thus this practice of dubious constitutionality continues.

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