For more on Italy’s referendum on constitutional reform euronews reporter Cecilia Cacciotto is our guide: “To better understand the constitutional reform vote in Italy,we are joined now from Milan by Valerio Onida, constitutionalist and president emeritus of the Italian Constitutional Court.
Cecilia Cacciotto: “Why should Italians vote ‘no?’”
Valerio Onida:“The reforms will do nothing to improve the functioning of the institutions, it has been approved simply by a majority government, which is likely to weaken the sense of the Constitution, which is the foundation of unity.”
Cecilia Cacciotto:“The ‘yes’ vote says people who are against reform, want nothing in Italy to ever change. What do you say?”
Valerio Onida:“Change for the sake of change is a weak argument, one needs to know what will change, how, and in what direction. It is not just about hostility to change, the constitutional terrain is fragile and change must be managed very carefully.”
Cecilia Cacciotto: “You have gone to court to denounce the formulation of the referendum question itself.That it would fail to protect the freedom of the electorate. The appeal was rejected. Were you wrong?’‘
Valerio Onida:“Well according to the judges, I am wrong, but what is the real problem. A difficulty has been raised, it’s the referendum question, which calls for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote to a law which contains different arguements, it creates a situation, which undermines the freedom of voters.
That is why I asked the opinion of the Constitutional Court. The judges have so far refused to consult the Constitutional Court.”
Cecilia Cacciotto: “The reform proposes to change the chapter on local and regional governments. The regional legislative power is reduced. Is that necessary, is Italy centralising power?”
Valerio Onida“This is the worse part of the reform, because it adopts a centralising tendency, ultimately it removes the legislative autonomy of the regions.”
Cecilia Cacciotto: “You denounce that aspect of the reforms that the government gets too much power.The ‘yes’ faction says that all over Europe, even though we’ve got differences, governments are elected in order to be stable and strong and enjoy strong support. Why should we be afraid of this in Italy?”
Valerio Onida“We must distinguish between governments that have a large majority and governments based on personality which provide a direct head of government.
The German government, which appears stable and strong, is a coalition between different parties. I believe this would be the best form of government for Italy at the moment. On the other hand the reforms will act in favour of minorities, they assist a minority to become a majority in parliament and that is not good.”
Cecilia Cacciotto: If ‘no’ wins, what’s going to happen in Italy? And in Europe, since the referendum has got international implications?”
Valerio Onida“In Italy nothing will happen, there will be no disaster and I don’t see anything happening in Europe. Europe is watching us, but the result will have no international impact on Italy.
I repeat, nothing will happen, politics will continue to do its job it is politics that must answer the questions posed by the international community.”