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Prodi : Will change Italian immigration trend

by gilgamesh Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 12:24:10 PM EST

I'm really hoping Prodi is Italy's next Premier, and this is real interesting news, from the diaries (with edits for emphasis) ~ whataboutbob

Romano Prodi, leader of the Italian center-left coalition, and major candidate to replace Silvio Berlusoni as Premier in the Administrative elections to be held next April,   has decided to courageously defy the conventional wisdom and the prevailing European attitude of cracking down on Muslim and other forms of immigration (legal and illegal), and has stated he will liberlize current immigration laws, in the wake of the horrible terrorist attacks which have taken place throughout the Western world.

Prodi, who has also recently come out in favor of a complete withdrawal of all Italian troops from Iraq if elected in April, has also declared that, under his leadership, a majority center-left  government would also revoke the Bossi-Fini laws which were introduced three years ago by Gianfranco Fini (head of the ex-fascist National Alliance) and Umberto Bossi (head of the separatist, neo-Nazi Northen League) and passed overwhelmingly by the right-wing dominated Parliament.

The Bossi-Fini laws, which originally provoked tremendous controversy in the rest of Europe for being extraordinarily harsh and racist, have since come to be considered fairly tame by post-London bombing standards.


Italy has an extremely harsh and brutal immigration policy which recently become an interantional scandal when it was condemned by the European Human Rights Commision as "racist" and "cruel". The enormous flood of immigrants (mostly refugees but the Italian goverenment doens't distinguish)from North Africa and the Balkans provoked a popular reaction partcilarly in the North (wealthy hypocrite area) againt the "extra-communitarians" (code word for all non-Italian and non-Catholic races and religons). Oh yes, I'm going to be very blunt here folks!! So the Berlusconi government made a deal with Muamar Gheddafi in which they decide to forcibly repatriate illegal immigrants coming from Libya and Libya woud set up appropiate shelters. The shelters were never set up but the tens of thousands of people from all over Africa, if they manage to survive the voyage on thin boats acroos the Meditteranean, are forced to turn back and wind up lost in the middle of the Libyan desert dying of thirst and famine.

Here are the law's key provisions as detailed by an article  in La Repubblica from July 2002:

PERMESSO di SOGGIORNO (a sort of equivalent to a green card in the US):  given only to foreigners who can demostrate that they already have obtained a work contract. The "permesso di soggiorno" is cut to two years from the previous three; if during this period the foriegner has lost his employement he must be either leave the country or be considered an illegal immigrant.

QUOTAS: by the 30th of November the Presidente of the Counsel (Premier), after participating in the unified National-Regional Conference, must publish a decree announcing a fixed quota on the number of "extra-communitarians" (immigrants from outside the EU) who shall be allowed to enter.  The decree is not a obligatory, however,  and it is theoretically possible that for one year the Premier may decide not to let in any foreigners or to let in more than usual as he sees fit.

SPONSOR:  the figure of the immigrant sponsor is eliminated. Immigrants can no longer get favorable treatment based on having  "sponsors" already resident in Italy.

House Cleaners and Babysitters: it will be possible to regularize one house cleaner per family as well as an unlimited number of babysitters on the condition that the presence of elderly or diabled persons who have need of their services has been certified.  The denunciation (declaration of irregularity) must be presented within two months of the implemention of the new law.

Rejoining of  family members: The extra-EU citizen, who has everything i order with respect to permissions, may ask permission to be joined by their spouse, by underage children, or by adult children at the expense of the of the citizen and on the condition that they are not able to provide for themselves.

IRREGULARS: The irregular (i.e.  any person with documents but without  permesso di soggiorno) shall be forcibly expelled by way of "accompaniment to the borders". He shall be physically and materially placed on an airplane or a ship which will bring him back to his place of origin.

CLANDESTINES: The clandestine (any person who does not even possess documents of  identification) will be conducted  to appropriately constructed Centers of temporay residence (the CPT's which I've already written about)  for up to 60 days, during which his identity will be determined in order to repartriate him to his nation of origin. If his identity is not discovered, it is to be "intimated" to the clandestine that he should leave the country within three days..

 DIGITAL FINGERPRINTS: all foreigners who ask for a  "permesso di soggiorno" will be subject to digitalized fingerprinting,  in order that he may be recognized if any documents have been falsified.

CRIME OF CLANDESTINE REENTRY: Any non-EU citizen who reenters Italia clandestinely after an expulsion, has commited an crime punishable by prison  term.

You will also note that there is no explicit distinction between immigrants and refugees who ask for political asylum in the legislation.

It is an interesting exercise to compare many of these provisions to what is now becoming something of a  trend in immigration legislation in many parts of Europe as a result of the extraordinary, disproporponiate panic aroused by the scare-mongering of politicians of the left and right in the wake of the bombings in Madrid and London.

We shall see if the majority of Italians buy the scare-mongering or if they  prefer the more responsible approach of racial tolerance and openness endorsed by Prodi and the majority of the center-left.

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We shall see if the majority of Italians buy the scare-mongering or if they  prefer the more responsible approach of racial tolerance and openness endorsed by Prodi and the majority of the center-left

This is real interesting to me...what do you think will be the response?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 09:07:23 AM EST
Actually this is not a new position. The majority of the center-left has supported changing sigificant parts of this legialtion for while now, as I understand the situation. Right now, the center-left is still pretty far ahead (9 points) in the polls, so it would seem that most Italians either support repealing these policies or they are just more concerned with other issues such as economic growth and jobs to attach much importance to it.

I suppose it could conceivably turn out to be a big issue up in the north, especially in Lombary and Veneto where the neo-Nazi Northen League runs things. LOL!!

by gilgamesh (expat at 6719 dot it) on Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 09:15:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually the most interesting news [i]right now [/i]is that Prodi has endorsed civil unions for non-married couples, which presumably would include homosexuals.

WOWWWW!! In the POPE'S ITALY, for Christ's sake!! I think he's gone off his rocker now. He's being slammed ferociously by the "center" part of the center-left. It looks like possible political suicide, folks.

Here's the url=
artcile in Italian [/url]

He's being called a "Zapatero" (synonymous with radical for the center and right, synonymous with Satan for the Vatican and its cronies).

by gilgamesh (expat at 6719 dot it) on Mon Sep 12th, 2005 at 09:27:06 AM EST
Since in this year's regional elections, it happened that a provincial leader was elected

  • in a Southern province,
  • despite being gay
  • and communist,

I don't think it has to be political suicide. But it could be, if Prodi flip-flops.

The problem with Prodi during his previous PM-ship that made the bed for the insane right was lack of courage. Maybe he realised that.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 09:05:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if you've been reading today's news or wathcing the extaordimary bashing he's getting from the fundamentalist Catholic "Center" (right and left), you might reconsider.

No, I don't think it is neccessarily poltical suicide. but he is taking a hammering for it. And the Vatican still controls an absoluetly enormous number of votes in this quasi-theocracy of the old Christian Demos.

I diagree with the view that Prodi lost power in 1998 becuase of he was not "courageous", however. He had to hold together an impossible coalition with parties and partitinies ranging from the fundamendalist Catholics of Mastella and to the unreconstructed Stalinists of Rifondazione and PCI. These latter were the Achilles heel of the coalition and they stopped at nothing to get what they wanted by thretenting to leave of they didnìt get it. Prodi refused and the coalition collapsed.

The solution to this problem of using the electoral system as a means of extortion is to finish the job of eliminating the last vestiges of proportional representaion and move more decively to a truly bipolar, and eventually, two-party system, IMO.

by gilgamesh (expat at 6719 dot it) on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 11:36:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
extaordimary bashing he's getting from the fundamentalist Catholic "Center"

You always get bashing from some quarters - for Prodi, earlier it was Rifondazione. Vendola in Puglia, and the moderate leftist leaders daring to name him candidate, also received lots of bashing. Moreover, I'm not sure the catholic ultra-right's media presence and politicians convert to that much followers among voters. (I have my doubts even for voters of Christian centrist parties that all of them would follow the party line on this.) Do you have some polling data on this?

the Vatican still controls an absoluetly enormous number of votes

How much of that on the left? How much of that is blind followers who'd vote for the Right if called on?

I diagree with the view that Prodi lost power in 1998 becuase of he was not "courageous", however.

We will disagree on what Prodi should have done with those demands (at least part of which were in the coalition charter if I recall correctly), and the demands of the business community, i.e., I think he should have dared a more leftist economic policy rather than the usual 'reforms'. But, when I wrote of lack of courage, I was more thinking of such omissions as the lack of a new media ownership law - omissions he shared with his successor d'Alema, which allowed Berlusconi to regain his semi-dictatoral powers. I.e., I was more thinking of how the insane Right could return, rather than his personal fall from power. (He also received similar criticism of indecisiveness for his tenure as EU Commission President, however, as the Council calls the shots here I don't blame him much.)

The solution to this problem of using the electoral system as a means of extortion is to finish the job of eliminating the last vestiges of proportional representaion and move more decively to a truly bipolar, and eventually, two-party system, IMO.

I fear that's a double-edged sword all in itself, and won't deliver the benefit you expect from it.

I recognise the need to bust the old Partitocracy and system of blackmail, which the mixed system was supposed to achieve. But, blackmail works in a two-party system, too: just this time, within one of the parties; what have been power-wrestling coalition partners are now power-wrestling party wings. Witness the US Democratic party for self-destruction from the centrists, and witness the US Republican party for executing the agenda of the extremist minority.

Furthermore, I deeply resent a two-party system. First, I think it limits democracy: it limits the opinions that get an unblended representation. (As much as you dislike RC and PCI, as much as I dislike Fini's postfascists, there are a lot of people who share those parties' views.) Party wings don't offer that much diversity of opinion (as opposed to power groups), while their power balance within the party has not much to do with relative support in public opinion. Second, the two parties limit public discourse - if the just two parties agree on something, it will be very difficult to advance or even get a forum for an opposing policy (see the USA again). Third, if just two parties get entrenched, they can turn even more corrupt and power-monopolising that a partitocracy: they can play one hand washes the other, ally against any third usurper of the system, or blackmail voters with "if you don't vote for us, The Other Side wins" (see the USA again, especially the election system and campaign finance, and the Nader case).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 14th, 2005 at 06:52:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I asked gilgamesh: Do you have some polling data on this?

While I am curious about polls on civil unions, if possible also according to parties, I looked up some other polls.

UDEUR, the catholic centre-left party that is the sole opposition within L'Unione I read of, gets just 1.3%. UDC is on the right, and it gets 5.7%.

I also looked up Nichi Vendola's victory in Puglia again. It is even more impressive than I put it before - to extend the list:

1 he won in a Southern province (where people are more conservative),
2 he won as an open gay,
3 he won as a communist,
4 he won with 6% more than the last centre-left candidate,
5 he won by even more than the supporting L'Unione coalition on list votes (0.1% more - that must have come from the right!),
6 he won while the L'Unione vote included 3.28% vote for the Christian Democrat UDEUR and its centrist allies.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 14th, 2005 at 08:18:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why in blazes would you want to get rid of PR?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Sep 14th, 2005 at 07:06:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See here. (Why I don't think it solves the problem Gilgamesh details there, see above.)

BTW, I just read of the recent dispute kicked off by the government's plan to introduce a 4% margin, which Prodi protested against in the strongest terms. I wonder what gilgamesh thinks about that.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 14th, 2005 at 09:49:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It will be interesting to see the extent to which reforms
of the laws are actually implemented, just as the same might be said for the laws themselves.  Italy tends to have truly excellent laws, incredibly detailed and "conceptual" in their pristine formulation at the hands of legislators who have been steeped in the intellectual tradition handed down through Giovanni Gentile's "liceo classico".   Even Berlusca himself circulated a memorable
pre-electoral publicity magazine in which he spoke of his
week-ends reading classical authors with Fedele Confalonieri and other coworkers.   The trouble, of course, is that there is usually (and almost necessarily) an enormous gap between the law "on paper" and the law
in "daily practice".   If the laws on the books were ever uniformly enforced, revolution would ensue within hours.
Needless to say, this is not an imminent peril.

Hannah K. O'Luthon
by Hannah K OLuthon on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 04:26:45 AM EST
Yes, these are excellent observations. Italy has such an unbelieveble number of laws on the books that it would be impossible to implement them all in practice. If I rememebr correctly, it is among the nations with the most laws on earth.  

There's also a big difference between "campaign proposals " and promises (ask Berlusoni abut those) and actually  implementing the changes.

Regardless of that, thouhg, it is good to see that someone is finally coming forward with an altrenative  program of some sort. And many of Prodi's moves lately, like yesterday's decision to include the Pacs in the cneter-leftì's program have been fairly courageous. Of course, he's alerady getting crucified for it by Mastella and the Ratzingerian Rottweilers.  

by gilgamesh (expat at 6719 dot it) on Tue Sep 13th, 2005 at 07:45:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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