Binding referendum on immunity for politicians, nuclear power, water supplies: Italy
mm at iniref.org
mm at iniref.org
Sat Jun 11 13:26:27 BST 2011
This week-end Italian citizens will be able to vote in binding
referendum ballots on four issues:
preventing privatisation of water supplies;
banning nuclear power plants;
removing judicial immunity from politicians and officials.
Detail is at
These proposals were forced onto the ballot by citizens' initiatives and
Within six months, half a million endorsements must be collected in
order that the proposal goes to abrogative (cancelling existing law)
The water proposal attracted over a million endorsements, the
anti-nuclear proposal 700,000 plus.
IN UK AND ENGLAND THIS RIGHT TO DEMOCRACY IS DENIED TO THE PEOPLE
Below is a background article
I&R ~ GB Citizens' Initiative and Referendum
Campaign for direct democracy in Britain
Italians vote on nuclear, water policies
By COLLEEN BARRY
Premier Silvio Berlusconi would rather Italians head to the beach and
not to the polls this weekend.
Referendums on the ballot Sunday and Monday seek to block the Italian
leader's plans to revive nuclear energy and privatize the water supply.
Another would throw out a law that gives Berlusconi and other top
officials some protection from prosecution.
In the face of the government's attempt to delegitimize the referendums,
campaigners are going to lengths to boost turnout above the 51-percent
majority needed to validate the vote, a quorum not reached in Italy
since 1995 in more than 20 attempts.
Nuns and priests held a fast to protest against the privatization of
water and anti-Berlusconi social networking campaigns have been
spreading the word to vote.
If a quorum is to be reached, it will likely to be due to the fresh
memories of the March 11 nuclear disaster in Japan, triggered by the
powerful quake and resulting tsunami.
Italy, also a seismically active country, shut down its nuclear power
program in a 1987 referendum following the Chernobyl disaster. Although
the referendum was legally binding for only five years, its political
staying power proved more durable.
Berlusconi pledged in 2009 to revive nuclear power to reduce dependence
on expensive foreign oil and natural gas. Nuclear proponents claim
third-generation plants envisioned for Italy are "intrinsically safe"
and would have withstood a quake and tsunami of the same force - a point
that environmentalists are not ready to concede.
The government fought to keep the hot-button nuclear issue off the
ballot, abrogating its own law to allow time for reflection, which
critics say was a move to render moot the referendum.
Courts held that the referendum, backed by 750,000 signatures, could go
ahead while critics complained that the government was trying impose a
silence until the emotional impact of the Japan disaster had muted.
Two referendums on water were spearheaded by civil society, which wants
to undo a 2009 law that requires all city administrations to privatize
the water system by the end of this year and the application of market
rules to water pricing. Previously, local municipalities had the choice
whether to run public services directly, or outsource.
Campaigners warn that the strict deadline will force down the prices of
the public utilities, and that private owners are more likely to raise
the prices of delivery of water to homes. They cite instances in Sicily
where bottled water companies also control tap water - which they turn
off for hours at a time.
"We need to have an institutional system that is not motivated by profit
but by sustainability," said University of Turin law professor Ugo
Mattei who drafted the referendum,
The final referendum is the closest to a direct swipe at Berlusconi, as
the opposition seeks to strike down completely legislation that allows
the Italian leader - and other top officials - to claim a legitimate
impediment to facing trial. Italy's highest court this year weakened the
law - allowing four cases against Berlusconi to proceed in Milan, but
the referendum would remove the possibility for high officials to claim
that official business prevents their appearance in court on a
Unlike local elections two weeks ago that dealt a blow to Berlusconi,
the government is stopping short of calling the vote a referendum on its
broader performance. That strategy backfired when Berlusconi's
candidates were voted out in such key tests as Berlusconi's native Milan
and trash-plagued Naples.
Still, Berlusconi and his ministers are emphasizing that the vote is a
right, not a duty, and have announced plans to abstain.
"It will be another setback," if the referendums pass, said Roberto
D'Alimonte, a political scientist at Rome's LUISS University. "But will
this jeopardize the government? I think not."
Paolo Santalucia contributed from Rome.
Posted on Fri, Jun. 10, 2011 05:44 AM
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