Culture / History of Italy / Politics

The Italian “leopard method”

The movie based on the the novel.

“The Leopard” by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa is one of the most famous Italian novels. Written in the Fifties, it is set in the years of the Italian Unification, and shows a conservative aristocrat joining the pro-Unification faction in order to avoid it becoming too progressive. In a crucial passage he tells his uncle: “If we don’t join them, they will set up a Republic. If we want everything to remain unchanged, everything needs to change. Do you understand?”

In these days the Italian Parliament is debating a Government-sponsored Bill to reform the State TV. As it is customary in Italy, the debate is heated, so much that the Government was forced to delay the vote. However, the famous journalist and TV anchorman Enrico Mentana squarely stated that the reform drafted by the Government will not change anything in the governance of State TV.

Is Prime Minister Matteo Renzi applying the leopard method? He claims to have reformed, or being in the process of reforming the labor market, the Constitution, the electoral law, the Civil Service and the family law.

The main feature of the labor law reform was the abolition of a restrictive regulation of work termination, which however applied to less than one enterprise in ten.

The constitutional reform did not pass yet. If it was adopted in its current version, its main feature would be replacement of the Senate with a Chamber of Regions in order to speed up the legislative proceedings. However, some Bills would still need to be passed by the Senate, and filibustering in the Chamber of the Deputies would be enough to slow down any Bill.

The new electoral law was already passed and is indeed a significant innovation, but it applies only to the Chamber of Deputies, meaning that it cannot be applied without first passing the constitutional reform.

The reform of the Civil Service, which is being debated, claims that it will make easier to fire public managers, but on paper this is already possible, it is simply not done in practice.

On the subject of family law, the adoption of a lighter procedure for divorce was achieved thanks to a bipartisan vote by the Parliament, without any significant action by the Government, and the Cirinnà Bill introducing civil partnerships for gay couples is progressing slowly, and it does not introduce civil partnership for heterosexual couples anyhow.

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