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Queen's University
 

Multiculturalism Policies in Contemporary Democracies


Italy

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TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 3.5 4 4.5


1. Federal or quasi-federal territorial autonomy

   Yes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • Italy is formed of twenty autonomous regions, five of which (including the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and that of Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste) enjoy a “special status” since the 1948 constitution which gives them significantly broader legislative, administrative and financial autonomy. According to the constitution, the republic is committed to the promotion of local autonomies.
  • A second Status of Autonomy in 1972 divided the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol into the two provinces of Trento and Bolzano/Bozen (or South Tyrol), transferring important legislative and administrative powers from the region to the provinces (Calamai 2009). This increased the level of self-government of the German minority, which forms a majority in the province of Bolzano/Bozen but not in the whole region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.
  • The decentralization process continued from the 1970s to the late 1990s. It culminated in major constitutional reforms in 2001, which led to the implementation of the Special Statute for Trentino-Alto Adige, a third (revised) autonomy status.
  • The 2001 constitutional reform transformed the system of government and the distribution of powers: the state now has competence in a limited number of areas (including foreign relations, immigration, social security and some general provisions on education), while regions have legislative powers in all matters that are not explicitly covered by state legislation (Roux 2008).
  • This reform further adopted fiscal federalism and devolved the capacity to raise and manage their revenues to subnational administrations (Calamai 2009). For Wolff, “the constitutional status of the [Bolzano/Bozen] province is now very similar to that of a state in a federal country” (2004, 394).


2. Official language status, either in the region or nationally

   Yes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence:

  • The first autonomy statute, in 1948, stated that Italian was the official language of the state and of the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. German could, however, be used in public life, in public administration as well as in the political sphere.
  • The revised autonomy statute of 1972 maintained that Italy was the official language of the state, but that the German language was “made equal” with Italian in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. This was taken to mean that “German was henceforward to be considered a local official language” (Alcock 2001, 13).
  • The official status of German in the Trentino-Alto Aldige/Südtirol region (as well as of French in Valle d’Aosta) has also been recognized in Italy’s report to the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 1999).
  • German-speaking citizens are allowed to communicate in their own language with the region’s administrative authorities as well as in judicial proceedings. However, only the Italian language is used in organizations of a military nature (Special Statute for Trentino-Alto Adige, 2001).
  • In the province of Bolzano, German place names must be used by public administrations when addressing German-speaking citizens.
  • Since 2001, the Constitution of the Italian Republic recognizes the bilingual diction “Alto Adige/Südtirol.”


3. Guarantees of representation in the central government or on constitutional courts

   Yes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0.5 0.5 1

Evidence:

  • Italy possesses a bicameral legislature; the Chamber of Deputies (630 members) and the Senate (315 members) have equal powers. Elections are held through a fully proportional system based on party-list representation. Constituencies either respect (for the Chamber of Deputies) or correspond to (for the Senate) regional borders (Repubblica Italiana 2010).
  • Some pro-minority additions to the electoral rules show an intent to have minorities represented in the central government and court.
  • Seats in the Chamber of Deputies are allocated among the parties that pass (national) thresholds according to the total vote on a national basis. However, parties representing linguistic minorities can obtain seats if they gather at least 20 percent of the ballots in their constituency.
  • The Senate is elected on a regional basis. Article 57 of the constitution states that no region can have fewer than seven senators, and guarantees that Valle d’Aosta (a region with a majority of French-speakers) has one seat.
  • According to the constitution, three delegates from every region participate in the election of the president of the Republic (in a joint session with the Parliament) so as to ensure that minorities are represented. While German-speakers do not form a majority in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, guarantees of representation at the regional and provincial levels (see below) ensure that members of the minority have a role in the selection of the president.
  • The Constitutional Court is composed of 15 judges chosen partly by the president of the Republic, by the Parliament and by the three superior tribunals. Membership of the Constitutional Court seeks to “mirror[…] the political, legal and cultural pluralism of the country as closely as possible” (Corte Costituzionale 2009, 24), but there is no guarantee of representation for the national minorities, and no German-speaking judge currently sits on the court.
  • There are some guarantees of representation of the German minority at the regional and the provincial level. For example, the Statute of Autonomy states that the presidency of the Regional Parliament should be held by a member of the Italian and the German communities in turns, and the two vice-presidents have to be selected from the Italian and German linguistic groups. It further asserts that allocation of jobs in the regional and provincial public service should follow a system of ethnic proportion. (The statute stipulates no such quotas, however, for jobs in the national public service.)
  • The electoral system has been modified twice since 1948 (in 1993 and again in 2005). While previous electoral laws tended to favour small parties, only since 2005 has there been a formal feature seeking to facilitate representation of linguistic minorities in parliament. Three referendums were held in 2009 to once again modify the electoral law, but failed because they did not achieve the necessary quorum.


4. Public funding of minority-language universities/schools/media

   Yes.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 1 1 1

Evidence (education):

  • Since the first autonomy statute in 1948, persons belonging to officially-recognized national minorities enjoy the right to education in their language. The statute led to the implementation of separate administrative divisions for each linguistic group in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol (Alcock 2001).
  • Primary and secondary school education has to be provided in the mother tongue of the pupils and by teachers of the same mother tongue.
  • The revised Statute of Autonomy of 1972 preserved this system of separate and autonomous school boards and placed them under the control of the province, which was responsible for funding them in direct proportion to the size of each linguistic group.
  • During the 1990s, the province’s autonomy was extended to include competency on university education, and the trilingual “Free University Bolzano/Bozen” was founded in 1998 following these developments (Civic Network of South Tyrol 2005).
  • Mitter (2004) further mentions that special agreements between Italy and its neighbours make it possible for members of the German minority to attend universities in Austria and Germany.

Evidence (media):

  • The Public Broadcasting Act of 1975 included protection of minorities within the responsibilities of the public service broadcaster, Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI). This meant the reservation of television and radio program slots for linguistic minorities in Bolzano/Bozen (German and Ladin), in Valle d’Aosta (French) and in Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Slovene), but only by specific request of the minorities themselves (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 2004).
  • These provisions were recently modified due to their unsatisfactory application and their failure to achieve successful results in practice. The Minority Languages Act (1999) now states that RAI and the Ministry for Communications have responsibility for ensuring that favourable conditions exist for protection of minority-language broadcasting in relevant regions (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe 2004, 266).
  • Specific regional agreements between these regions and the public broadcaster regulate the transmission of programming in the protected language. Since 1975, Rundfunk-Anstalt Südtirol (RAS), a provincial equivalent to RAI funded exclusively by the local authority of Bozen, broadcasts in German, Italian and Ladin throughout South Tyrol (Rundfunk-Anstalt Südtirol 2010).
  • There is no obligation for any other broadcasters (other than RAI) to include minority-language programming. In South Tyrol, however, both public and some private radio and television stations broadcast programs in German. Measures have also been adopted in order to fund minority-language newspapers.
  • The German-speaking population of South Tyrol can also receive television or radio programs produced in Germany or in Austria (Venice Commission 1994).


5. Constitutional or parliamentary affirmation of “multinationalism”

   No.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0 0

Evidence:

  • There is no explicit affirmation of multinationalism or of the “national” diversity of Italy in the Constitution of the Italian Republic. On the contrary, there is a basic assumption that all citizens are members of the Italian nation, and Italy as a whole is described as “the Nation” (see articles 9, 59, 67, for example). There is no mention of the “national” character of the territorial minority in the Statute of Autonomy either.
  • Only language is used as a distinctive feature to identify minorities (which are protected by special measures), excluding all references to “ethnic” or “national” minorities.
  • According to Palermo, “the multi-cultural composition of the Italian ‘nation’ is emphasized by recognizing the minority languages” (2000, 9). In a later work, he describes Italy as a “national state of multinational and promotional inspiration” (Palermo and Woelk 2003, 228), assessing that recognition, protection and promotion of minorities are an essential component of the country’s constitutional order.


6. Accorded international personality (e.g., allowing the sub-state region to sit on international bodies, sign treaties, or have their own Olympic team)

   Partially.

TOTAL SCORES
Year: 1980 2000 2010
Score: 0 0.5 0.5

Evidence:

  • The legal framework in Italy has traditionally been very restrictive with regard to the international role and actions of sub-state entities, although it has gradually gained some flexibility (Keating 2000).
  • Starting in 1970, members of the parliaments of South Tyrol and of Tyrol (an Austrian region) have held joint sessions of the two parliaments, discussing common issues and signing agreements and conventions. These meetings were extended to include members of the Parliament of Trentino in 1991 (Europaregion Tirol-Südtirol/Alto Adige-Trentino 2010a).
  • Some competencies in the EU sector (such as the right to open a South Tyrol Office in Brussels) were given to the region during the 1990s, partly through court processes (Civic Network of South Tyrol 2005; Keating 2000). The Italian delegation to the Committee of the Regions of the European Union includes one representative of the Bolzano/Bozen province (Committee of the Regions 2010).
  • Together with the Austrian state of Tyrol, the Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol forms the Euroregion Tirol-Südtirol/Alto Adige-Trentino. They established the first trans-boundary EU liaison office in Brussels in 1995 (Europaregion Tirol-Südtirol/Alto Adige-Trentino 2010b).
  • Changes made to the Constitution of the Italian Republic in 2001 now present the international and EU relations of the different regions as a shared competency: legislative powers are vested in the regions while the determination of fundamental principles is done by the central government. Article 117 further specifies that “the autonomous provinces of Trent and Bolzano take part in preparatory decision-making process of EU legislative acts in the areas that fall within their responsibilities.”

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