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May 06 2011
Supplied or written by Daniela Del Bene

Udine, 5th may 2011

Italy has seen a very long and articulated process of democratic participation which has made possible a nation-wide referendum on crucial issues for the country.

On the 12th and 13th of June Italian electors will be called to vote for a referendum consisting of four demands.

First, they will have to decide on a law which allows five high political personalities of the state not to be persecuted by legal actions during their time at power.

Italians will be then invited to decide on nuclear power, after the decision of the Berlusconi's government to declare nuclear energy as one of the strategic and necessary elements of national power supply.

Two more points of the referendum are on water management and water supply. The first article to be requested to be abolished is the 23bis of the “Decreto Legge” n. 112 of 25th June 2008 which impose the privatisation of water supply systems and declares water as a good with economic value. The second demand is to abrogate part of the article 154 of the “Decreto Legislativo” n. 152 of 3rd April 2006, which grantees the remuneration of investments in the water sector, without taking into account the costs imposed to the population but only protecting corporations' and companies' interests.

The Italian law provides that the referendum will have its effects only if it reaches the quorum, which means 50% + 1 of the total population having the right to vote and if the majority of them choose for the abrogation of those articles.

If the referendum will be successful, the situation will change a lot. The Italian Premier and other political representatives would be processed like every other Italian citizen, under the same law system. The referendum will undermine private interests on nuclear energy, both Italian and from abroad. It will also threaten the contracts for water companies, which are already working and gaining capitals in different parts of Italy.

This is not a positive perspective for the Italian government which has been promoting liberalisation policies since the very beginning and has already signed agreements with France for the supplying of uranium and know-how in the nuclear energy sector. It's not a happy horizons either for a prime minister, already under many processes with heavy evidences against him.

Therefore, the government is trying to be clever and faster than the citizens; on the 22nd of April it announced a moratorium on nuclear power, arguing that in the country “there's too much psychological stress and fear after the Fukushima disaster for voting”. “The reporting of these days would have a too strong influence on the Italian citizens”, says the government.

The Moratorium will have the effect of cancelling the referendum itself but will only suspend the decision on nuclear power for one year and will therefore allow the government to put on the plate the same issue again in a very short time. The last word will be in the Court of Cessation in the next days.

Similar solution could be found for water. This should not happen in any manner; the Italian Referendum Committee “2 Sì per l'Acqua Bene Comune” (“2 Yes for Water as a Commons”) denounces the way the Italian government is cheating its citizens, taking all initiatives in his power not to allow the national referendum consultation. Even the media coverage is not sufficient as it does not give enough information to the voters. The Committee announces that the campaign will go on and that vote will definitely take place in June, no matter what actions the government will take. Because this is a matter of democracy, which also means right to participation and decision, not only majorities constructed in the Parliament or last-minute governmental decisions.

by Daniela Del Bene, for Cevi – Centro di Volontariato Internazionale, Udine, Italia

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