Devolution: Change and No Change
Regional government, in the period between 1970 (when it was first
introduced) and the early 1990s, failed to live up to expectations, because it
was constrained by central controls, inadequate funding and the parties’
determination that existing practices should not be disturbed. In fact,
regional matters tended often to become bargaining points between the
parties at national level. These failed expectations, combined with the
682 M. Bull and G. Pasquino
continued poor economic performance of the south and the emergence of
the Third Italy, contributed to growing demands for greater decentralisation,
if not federalism. These demands took on an explicitly political
partisan character through the emergence of the Northern League, which –
exploiting latent hostility to southerners and the declining strength of anticommunism
as a factor influencing voting – argued for federalism in order
to break what it viewed as the exploitation of the north’s resources by a
corrupt political class in Rome, which, it argued, used those resources to
maintain its own power in the underdeveloped south. The League’s electoral
success, and particularly the manner in which it drained away support
for the principal parties, thereby contributing to the dramatic changes of
the early 1990s, brought the issue of decentralisation and federalism back on
to the political agenda, and by the 1990s all the parties (except for
Communist Refoundation) were proposing some form of federalism or, as it
became later fashionable to dub it, ‘devolution’.10 The transformation of
the party system opened the way to the carrying through of several
reforms, as well as political competition over passing such reforms into
In 1993, legislation was passed providing for the direct election of mayors,
as well as attempting to increase the effectiveness of local and provincial
governments by concentrating more power in their executives. This reform,
combined with the ending of many careers on the back of the corruption
revelations, brought to the fore a new political class at the municipal level,
and had a ‘depoliticising’ effect on local policymaking (Dente 1997: 184).
This was followed in 1994 by the introduction of a local property tax (the ICI
imposta comunale sugli immobili), giving local government greater financial
autonomy, and, in 1997, by two reforms formulated by the Minister for
Regional Affairs and Public Administration (Franco Bassanini), which both
empowered central government to transfer administrative responsibilities to
the regions in areas of their competence, and placed limits on the exercise of
central and bureaucratic controls (Newell 1998). At the same time, the
transformation of the party system during the 1990s resulted in a reduction
of central party control over sub-national coalition formation, traditionally
subject to the dictates of national-level party brokering.
These reforms laid the groundwork for what was expected to be a
constitutional modification of Title V of the Constitution through the
Bicameral Commission of 1997–98. The sinking of the Commission’s
proposals in parliament in 1998 did not stop the reform process, and, under
the centre-left, a constitutional law was passed in 1999 which, modifying
four articles of the Constitution, strengthened the role of regional presidents
principally through changing their method of election. This not only
transformed the nature of regional government, but also maintained the
pressure for reforms of a federalist type, since many of the regional
presidents exploited their new positions to this effect. In addition, this and
the Bassanini laws made necessary certain constitutional adjustments to
Institutional Reforms in Italy 683
Title V to complete these reforms. Finally, the centre-left, aware of the likely
political capital that the Northern League would make in the national
election from its federalist proposals, saw the opportunity of cutting the
ground from under its feet. Effectively reintroducing the defunct proposals
of the Bicameral Commission, the centre-left passed through parliament a
reform of Title V of the Constitution, receiving final approval by the House
on 28 February 2001 and the Senate on 8 March 2001.
Besides the further reduction of central controls (through the abolition of
the Regional Commissioners and the exercise of any control of ‘merit’ over
regional acts), the reform’s principal change was to the manner of distribution
of legislative powers between the state and the regions. It
purported to balance the competing needs of regional autonomy and
national equality of provision, but was generally regarded as politically
motivated and technically deficient.11
Since article 138 of the Constitution was used to achieve this reform
(which provides for revision of constitutional laws if the proposals are
approved by each house twice over with an interval of three months between
each, on absolute majorities in each house on the second vote) the centreright,
fiercely opposed to the reform, used the second part of the same article
to call for the first ‘confirmative’ (as opposed to ‘abrogative’) referendum in
the history of the Republic. The possibility of a ‘confirmative’ (as opposed
to ‘abrogative’) referendum is provided for in circumstances where the law
has not been passed with a two-thirds majority (the assumption being that a
two-thirds parliamentary majority could be considered as representative of
public opinion). In these circumstances, a referendum will be held if, within
three months of the law’s approval, it is requested either by a fifth of
members of one house, or half a million voters or five regional councils. In
this event, the law is not ratified unless a majority votes for it. The
assumption behind this clause is that a simple parliamentary majority may
not be sufficiently representative of public opinion, and, in any case, a public
debate on the pros and cons of the reform will provide voters with a better
understanding of them.
The referendum of 7 October 2001 approved the change, 64.2 per cent
voting for and 35.8 per cent against, albeit on a low turnout of 34 per cent.
However, by then the April 2001 national elections had been held, the centreright
coalition was back in office and Umberto Bossi, the new ‘Minister for
Reforms and Devolution’ (the Northern League having replaced ‘federalism’
with ‘devolution’ as their watchword), had already (in July) presented
proposals to supersede what he dubbed the centre-left’s ‘mini-federalism’
with a new law. These proposals, amended and watered down through
compromise, eventually became the core of the centre-right’s constitutional
reform passed in November 2005. They granted exclusive legislative powers
to the regions in various key sectors, including health, education and police.
The state was granted exclusive legislative competence in the other areas of
national strategic interest (as defined in the revised article 117 of Title V of
684 M. Bull and G. Pasquino
the Constitution) while other areas were subject to concurrent legislative
powers between both regions and the state. The state retained the right to
veto regional laws if it deemed them to be against the national interest, first
inviting the regional council to repeal the law and then, if necessary,
annulling it by a combined sitting of both chambers. Within three years of
the approval of the reform, fiscal federalism was to be introduced, although
within specified financial limits to prevent an overall increase in fiscal
pressure. The Senate was to be renamed the Federal Senate, with members
elected in each region (at the same time as the election of regional councils).
The 42 delegates from the regions were to participate in the work of the
Federal Senate but without voting rights.
In a manner analogous to that of the centre-left, these proposals were
denounced for their political origins and technical deficiencies, with the difference
that there was more widespread alarm regarding the possible
implications of the implementation of this reform. The granting of exclusive
legislative power to regional governments in the areas of health, education
and policing introduced the possibility of 20 different levels of provision
being developed, depending on different regions’ resources. This would
produce a growing inequality in provision for citizens across the peninsula, a
‘broken-up Republic’ (Repubblica spezzatino) with the most likely outcome
an exacerbation of the north–south divide. The two principles of exclusive
legislative regional power and a ‘national interest’ veto laid the foundation
for serious conflict between national and local levels, thereby potentially
straining national unity and provoking institutional paralysis. There would
likely be a rise in overall expenditure, in addition to the cost of introducing
the new system. Finally, the new Senate could hardly be defined as ‘federal’
insofar as the regional and local representatives did not have voting rights,
thus removing the essential characteristic of a federal body: that it acts as a
representative of territory.12
If these proposals – in a modified form – had been the core around which
the rest of the centre-right’s constitutional reform had originally been based,
they remained dominant throughout the referendum campaign. Indeed,
despite Berlusconi’s efforts to ‘dilute’ the visibility of devolution in amongst
a larger package, it was generally dubbed the ‘devolution referendum’, and
the Northern League, which had more at stake than any other party, played
the most prominent role of all parties in the campaign, calling on people to
vote ‘yes’ on these grounds alone. More importantly, analysis of the turnout
and voting outcomes across the peninsula suggest that the theme also had a
determining effect on the vote.
The Political Scrap over the Constitution
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.
You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.Read more
Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.Read more
Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.Read more
Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.Read more
By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.Read more