As expected, the Constitutional Court declared yesterday that the referendum on nuclear energy should go ahead. More surprising was that their verdict was unanimous.
We shouldn’t have been surprised after the new president, Alfonso Quaranta said “unofficially” on Monday that there were no grounds for not holding the referendum. Given the the political composition of the Court it would have been unlikely that a majority of the judges agreed with him. Instead, all of them decided that their only job was to judge the constitutionality of the referendum and of the earlier Court of Cassation verdict: they decided that there were no objections.
The question under examination was whether the government’s moratorium on the nuclear programme changed the substance of the issue, and was a way to cancel the referendum. The court decided it did not.
Its unanimity means either that the Court is a purely legal body with no political loyalties or that the centre right judges have sensed that the wind is changing and do not want to risk unpopularity. Neither hypothesis is wholly convincing but together, they explain the decision. There was also presumably a sense of pique from a group a 60 and 70 year old lawyers who however conservative they might be, bridled at be labelled “communists” by Berlusconi and who also objected to the underhand ways used to stop the referendums.
Along with the court, there has been a stream of figures and institutions encouraging the quorum. Most church newspapers and senior churchmen, Emma Marcegaglia the president of the employers’ federation, Carla Fracci the ballet dancer and President Napolitano.
A week ago, I was very sceptical that more than 25 million Italians would turn out to vote – they haven’t done so since 1995. Now I think there is a good possibility. The next technical question is whether the 3 million or so Italians abroad will be included in the quorum but the issue will only arise if they are crucial to the result.
Correction. Bruno Tiozzo pointed out a mistake in the last post:
"FLI is not in favour of the proposal to keep water distribution public. In fact the law bear the name of Andrea Ronchi, who is (at least for now) still a FLI MP. You are however right that some single MP’s from FLI (like Granata) have expressed themselves against the liberalization of water distribution."
Thank you Bruno.