Constitutional Dullness

Should the number of Italy’s Members of Parliament (MPs) be reduced from 945 to 600? Italian citizens will decide on that question in a constitutional referendum that will take place in less than two weeks. While other referendums in Italian history have been vectors of remarkable civic mobilisation, this one fails to capture the constitutional imagination of Italian citizens. What could – and should – be a radical public debate about Italy’s political system and the current order, in fact revolves around pettiness and trivial constitutional engineering.

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The Italian Government Enforces Gender Parity in Regional Elections

On 23 July 2020, the Italian government formally warned Apulia that if the region did not introduce gender parity election rules by 28 July 2020, it would do so in its place. Apulia failed to adopt a regional statute in that time frame. Thus, on 31 July 2020, the Italian government adopted Decree Law 86/2020 which essentially introduced a mechanism of “double gender preference” for the regional Parliament elections to be held on 20-21 September 2020. What is clear is that this summer’s events around the Apulia election are yet another example of the “irresistible rise of gender quotas in Europe”, where Germany increasingly stands out as the proverbial exception.

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With Tragedy Comes Farce

The Italian Prime Minister has recently adopted the the so-called ‘Step 2’ measures. They aim to prudently alleviate the severe limitations on personal liberty imposed so far, but result in obvious uncertainty as for what exactly is forbidden – which adds to their slender ties with parliamentary legislation in exposing the legitimacy deficit of the overall crisis discipline. Particularly, the notion of ‘congiunto’ as a person that one can go visit is likely to cause tragicomic, yet remarkable, turmoil.

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Not a Safe Place?

In an unprecedented move, the Italian government has declared Italy’s ports “unsafe” due to the COVID-19-pandemic. It did so by issuing an executive decree late Tuesday last week, seemingly in response to the rescue of 150 shipwrecked by the Sea-Eye’s Alan Kurdi. This is not the first time that the Italian government has used decrees to close its borders for sea-rescue ships. However, given the extraordinary circumstances of this case in the midst of the on-going Corona-crisis and the novel argument made by the Italian government, the decision warrants closer examination.

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The Need for Clear Competences in Times of Crisis

All Italian institutions established at different levels of government have been at the forefront in the health emergency to fight the spread of the coronavirus disease (see Diletta Tega and Michele Massa). Yet, they had to take action in the absence of a consistent legal framework establishing a clear division of competences and chain of command in the management of the emergency. The resulting legal uncertainties have been delaying the timely adoption and effective implementation of the containment measures which led to the national lockdown.

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Corona Triage

Triage – this is the sorting of patients in groups to be treated preferentially or subordinately when the mass of patients vastly exceeds the available resources. It has always been a delicate and stressful procedure. The Italian Society for Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care Medicine (SIAARTI) has recently given recommendations to intensive care physicians who are currently no longer able to provide lung ventilators to all Covid-19 patients in need. The aim of those recommendations was to relieve the practitioners of the burden of taking personal responsibility for the selection decisions and to make the criteria explicit and communicable. The criteria, or so the authors propose, should also be made accessible to those affected and to their families to maintain trust in the public health service. If the criteria are now made public, one must however be allowed to comment on them. This is what I intend to do here.

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Corona-Triage

Triage – das ist die Sortierung von Patienten in Gruppen vor- und nachrangig zu Behandelnder bei einem die verfügbaren Ressourcen weit übersteigenden Massenanfall von Bedürftigen. Das ist schon immer ein heikler und belastender Vorgang gewesen. Die italienische Gesellschaft für Anästhesie, Analgesie, Reanimations- und Intensivmedizin (SIAARTI) hat den Intensivmedizinern, die derzeit nicht mehr allen bedürftigen Covid-19-Patienten Beatmungsgeräte bereitstellen können, dazu kürzlich Empfehlungen an die Hand gegeben. Man wolle auf diesem Wege die Praktiker davon entlasten, die Auswahlentscheidungen persönlich verantworten zu müssen, und man wolle die Kriterien explizit und kommunikabel machen. Wenn die Kriterien öffentlich gemacht werden, muss man sie freilich auch kommentieren dürfen. Das möchte ich hier tun.

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Coronavirus Emergency and Public Law Issues: An Update on the Italian Situation

The emergency caused by the “new” Coronavirus disease (that we discussed here) reached a new peak in Italy in the last few days, since cases have tripled compared to just a couple of days ago. Italy is now the second most affected country after China. This situation induced Italian public authorities to take new, stricter measures to try to contain the expansion of the virus. From a constitutional law perspective, the Coronavirus sheds light on the need to reconsider Italy’s “emergency constitution” .

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The Island of Hope in a Sea of Misery

On 17 January 2020, the Italian Court of Cassation (‘Court’) ruled that Carola Rackete, captain of the Sea-Watch 3, was not criminally liable for hitting an Italian Guardia di Finanza vessel and allowing 40 shipwrecked to disembark in Lampedusa in July 2019. The judgment is remarkable for its unequivocal stance on the right to disembark.

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Private (Transnational) Power without Authority

On 9 September 2019 Facebook banned from its platforms all pages and profiles related to the Italian far-right organization “CasaPound”, for the violation of its Community Standard no. 12 (hate speech and incitement to violence). On 11 December 2019, the Tribunal of Rome (ToR) adopted the precautionary measure ordering Facebook Ireland Ltd. to restore the pages and their content and to pay the losses. The decision raises significant issues in several respects and might serve as a model to courts beyond Italy.

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