CorrCan Media Group

Chair Worshippers, Seat Warmers: the Sacred Cows fighting Constitutional Change

Chair Worshippers, Seat Warmers: the Sacred Cows fighting Constitutional Change

The debate on the Referendum for Constitutional Reform is heating up. Even in Canada. The positions taken by the YES or NO sides has begun to excite the interest of Italian Canadians heading to the ballot boxes on December 4. If nothing else, the Open letters to the Italian Diaspora, first by Matteo Renzi then a reposte by Massimo D’Alema, indicate that the main players of both sides understand the importance of the Italians living abroad to the outcome of the vote. The world is changing before our very eyes. In this instance, Italians living in Canada may yet be key to the final decision. The importance of participating, regardless of one’s position cannot be understated. Corriere Canadese invited Odoardo Di Santo to comment on the Referendum campaign. His background as a Communications Director, with Italian governments together with his Canadian political experience as an MPP in Ontario offer unique perspective on a divisive topic. What follows is the first of two parts.


02ossessionenoChair Worshippers, Seat Warmers: the Sacred Cows fighting Constitutional Change

by Odoardo Di Santo

TORONTO – In the last few months, with exceptional insight, the Corriere Canadese has performed a newspaper’s duty to inform its readers about the constitutional referendum in Italy, next December 4. Italian citizens, even if they live abroad, have the right to vote for or against the reform. It is a fundamental democratic right that comes with citizenship.

Reform of the current Constitution has become necessary, because it was conceived and approved in the postwar period and conditioned by particular circumstances of the time. Fear of giving too much power to the government, on the heels of the ill-fated experience with Fascism was one of them. Without going through the history of the last 70 years that produced up to 63 Cabinets, let’s focus on the Referendum, which the Corriere’s Editor described as “challenging sacred cows”.

These “sacred cows”, as Manzoni would say, have been glued to their chairs for the last 70 years and in charge of everything possible forever. Everyone remembers the endless discussions, the so called “tables” at which experts would talk and talk to no avail.
Enter a new decision-maker, Renzi. The famous “tables” disappeared. Everyone was dethroned. Worst of all, Renzi navigated a Bill for the constitutional reform through Parliament without asking permission of the usual Solons.

Not surprisingly, they are all against constitutional reform, including the ones who tried and failed with their own initiative: the incomparable Massimo D’Alema with Berlusconi; the never-too-reviled Mario Monti who says now – with a straight face and devoid of irony and decency – that post-referendum Italy should appoint a “technical government”.

Italians will not soon forget the ignoble experience of his own 2011 government of technocrats. It brought “blood and tears” to the working classes. Its name will not soon be forgotten but, if justice prevails, will never be mentioned again.

We must not ignore the contributions of Ciriaco De Mita, born 1928, but another vigorous fighter for the No side. Some may remember as the Prime Minister who visited Toronto during the G7 summit in 1988.
Can we forget another stalwart for the NO, Paolo Cirino Pomicino? Now almost 80 years old, he was a former minister in the last century, charged and convicted and served one year and 8 months of jail time.

Then there are all the government’s opponents: from 5 Stelle’s, Beppe Grillo to the beleaguered leader of the Lega, Matteo Salvini, to the diaspora of Forza Italia, a lifeless party on its way to dissolution. All of them, on the surface, against the Referendum, but, in fact, anti Premier Renzi.

Ironically, yesterday, Silvio Berlusconi referenced him as “the only true leader” in Italy. But why such obstinate animosity towards Renzi?

“Seat warmers” and “Chair-worshippers” know that if the Yes vote wins, things will go differently in Italy. So, they underhandedly attack Renzi. It is not for the constitutional referendum per se. They conjure up fear-mongering scenarios, of the “authoritarianism” like in Erdogan’s Turkey, for example.

Why, we ask. The real reason is that the threat to the old Establishment doesn’t come from the referendum but from the Electoral Law. This Law has nothing to do with the referendum because it’s been approved both by the Parliament and the Senate. That law is not on the referendum ballot.

The Referendum bill has been approved no less than six times (6) by the Chamber and the Senate. Now even those who voted for it are campaigning for the No vote.

Take as example Bersani, former Democratic Party leader, whose work as Minister was met with general approval. But, as Democratic Party leader, he lost the 2013 election. In a normal country, he would have conceded defeat.

Instead, he’s looking for payback. D’Alema has his own personal motives. He would have liked to have been EU’s Foreign Minister, but Renzi supported Ms. Mogherini. D’Alema is now opposing the referendum and the reforms he himself pushed for in his time as prime minister with the failing bicameral legislation. Pundits say though that his unpopularity and lack of credibility are, for Renzi, one the strongest arguments for a SI vote.

It is a campaign built upon hatred towards Renzi, because for 70 years the Antagonists have scraped a living out of the System. Now they know that if the Yes wins they’ll get scrapped. (Part two on Monday).

(Friday 18 November 2016)

Download “Chair Worshippers, Seat Warmers: the Sacred Cows fighting Constitutional Change”

>> Italian Version

Comments are closed.