This is the letter that many Italians will send to all the Italian Ambassadors and Consuls in the world and to the candidates for the national and foreign constituency at the Italian political elections on 13th – 14th April 2008:
Right to vote
for all Italian citizens:
yes or no?
From the Italian Constitution (title IV, Political affairs, art. 48):
“All citizens, men or women, who have attained their majority are entitled to vote. Voting is personal, equal, free, and secret. Its exercise is a civic duty.
The law defines the procedures and conditions under which the citizens residing abroad effectively exercise their electoral right. To this end, a constituency of Italians abroad is established for the election of the Chambers, to which a fixed number of seats is assigned by constitutional law in accordance with criteria determined by law.
The right to vote may not be limited except for incapacity, as a consequence of an irrevocable criminal sentence, or in cases of moral unworthiness established by law.”
According to the Italian constitution the Italian citizens should be put in the condition to exercise their electoral right.
In fact, the Italian citizens who are temporarily abroad, far from their electoral office are not in the condition of doing it because the law doesn’t ensure their rights effectively.
The Italian citizens who reside permanently abroad can exercise their voting rights only if they are registered with the AIRE (register of the Italian citizens living abroad). An exception is provided only for a few groups of citizens temporarily abroad like university professors away for at least six months, employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the military and sailors in temporary service abroad.
People who study and work abroad temporarily are not taken into consideration, even if their number is higher than that of the ones who are actually considered by the law.
They restrict, not ensure, the right to vote of
a good number of electors and electricians.
In the political crisis that has led to the calling of the elections, which will take place in less than two months, many Italians won’t be able to return to their country in time to vote.
Many head offices of companies with branches abroad do not grant their employees days off to go back to their countries to vote, because in many countries inside and outside the EU it’s now possible to exercise the electoral right by post.
Even in case one would like to go to Italy, the transportation costs, totally at the voter’s expense, are very high and bound up to the laws of market (since the calling of the elections for the 13th – 14th April, the prices of international flights to Italy have clearly increased and the number of flights is definitely not enough to let all people go back).
Even if one tried to solve this problem by registering with AIRE, it wouldn’t be possible to vote at the next elections. Actually, only people who have been registered for a couple of months can exercise their right to vote.
In the last years, the number of Italian people temporarily abroad has increased considerably due to the rise of free circulation within the EU countries. The significant growth of bureaucratic procedures that the Italian embassies have to go through is evidence for that.
In consideration of all that, we ask the Consular Representatives and the Candidates for the foreign constituency for the next political elections on 13th – 14th April 2008:
· To take upon themselves such a legislative void and the ineffectiveness of the article 48 of the Italian Constitution;
· To promote the voting by post as a right / duty for all citizens just like it is done in other EU countries with easy and efficient mechanisms (notice of one’s will to vote by post, the retrieval of the kit at the national post offices or at the embassy, the production of a simple identification paper during the voting procedures);
· To take upon themselves and speak for the problem at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and at other Italian institutions; to promote temporary and short-term solutions for Italian citizens who are temporarily abroad to exercise their voting rights for the coming political elections at the local consulates, producing a valid identification paper.
· To promote the registration with the AIRE at the consulates for the citizens who are abroad for a short period of time regardless of the reason for their stay as in many countries of the EU and to broaden and rethink the role and the duties of the consular offices.
The Beppe Grillo International Meetup Network