Quirinale, the origins (and risks) of the white semester – Corriere.it

Quirinale, the origins (and risks) of the white semester – Corriere.it
Quirinale, the origins (and risks) of the white semester – Corriere.it
from Marzio Breda

From 3 August President Mattarella will not be able to dissolve the Chambers: if the government falls, it remains an extreme option. The story of a law born out of fear of a legal coup

A small legal coup. This was the dangerous scenario that Renzo Laconi, a member of the Constituent Assembly for the PCI, sketches in front of his colleagues who are busy writing with him our Magna Carta if it had not been taken away from the heads of state the right to dissolve the Chambers during the last six months of their mandate. According to the Sardinian Communist, in fact, there was a risk that an expiring president would dismiss Parliament only for having extended his powers and using this extended power to influence the new elections.

Doubts and mistrust for future reference. A scruple gained on the idea that it was necessary to protect the newly born Italian democracy as much as possible. In short, Laconi needed a rule that would act as an antidote capable of making maneuvering and authoritarian temptations impracticable. by a president, whoever he was. The President, if things had instead remained as they had been expected up to that moment, could have exerted pressure or even got rid of the tenants of Montecitorio and Palazzo Madama in advance, to have more favorable assemblies elected and confided perhaps in a second mandate.

It was more of a suggestion. But then – it was between 1946 and January 1948 – the fears of a resurgent fascism in new forms were still widespread. And they were enough to get the second paragraph of Article 88 approved in a hurry, introducing the blank semester that Sergio Mattarella will have to deal with tomorrow. A black hole, they called it (without too much color fantasy), because it annihilates the strongest weapon available to the head of state. That is, the threat to send everyone home in case a dead end crisis materializes. This hypothesis is not entirely strange, given the increasingly less latent tensions in the majority.

Mattarella must have thought about it, since last February 2nd, while he was preparing to entrust the government post to Mario Draghi, he found a way to recall the frustrating experience of his predecessor, Antonio Segni. He recalled that in 1963 the Sassari statesman had sent a message to the Chambers in which he explained how it was appropriate to introduce in the Constitution the principle of the non-immediate re-election of the President of the Republic, pointing out that the seven-year period is sufficient to guarantee continuity in the action of the State. .

Segni had added that his proposal, in addition to eliminating any, albeit unfair, suspicion that some act of the head of state is carried out in order to favor his re-election, required another, consequent passage. Repeal the provision that mutilates the power of dissolution when a president’s seven-year term is about to end. The fateful semester, in fact, always remained intact. The only exception, a functional change voted by Parliament in 1991, to avoid the institutional jam that occurs when the end of a legislature coincides with the end of a post at the Quirinale (it happened with Cossiga reigning).

And here it is inevitable to ask a question. Does the white semester still make sense? He does not have much for the former president of the Council Valerio Onida, who recalls how the heads of state have never so far become what could frighten the constituents, and represents us almost a guarantee … Without calculating that, beyond of the problem of re-eligibility, however, it is not true that they can dissolve the Chambers as and when they want, at their discretion. Opinion shared by Giovanni Maria Flick, also an emeritus of the Council, which considers the blank semester overtaken and contradicted by the facts, that is, by the elastic interpretation but, in the constitutionally correct substance, to which the heads of state were held. What is worrying for him, if anything, is the prospect that now a free-all logic is triggered in the parties with a run-up to quarrel, at the cost of breaking the government alliance, in the not very responsible conviction that Mattarella cannot do anything.

Here is the political point, fbased on the prospect that in twenty-four hours a drastic power vacuum will open at the Quirinale which would make the head of state an unarmed authority. Not so. Not entirely, at least. In Mattarella the powers of appointment, signature, postponement of laws, to send messages to the country remain intact, in addition to the prerogative of using moral suasion, which has now entered the material Constitution.

Of course, if the most restless parties, in order to gain consensus or to preserve the votes held despite the internal fractures (such as Lega and M5S) led to a crisis without remedy, everything would become complicated for the Quirinale. Which would have few options left. The first: to keep the resigning executive in office for ordinary administration, and the history of the First Republic gives us examples of disheartened prime ministers who, between verifications and negotiations, managed to survive for more than 200 days (without neglecting the precedents of Belgium and Austria, where they staggered for more than a year). The second option: aware of being faced with an unmanageable crisis, which becomes a system, Mattarella precipitates it by resigning and from that step the dissolution of the Chambers would depend on his successor. These are not just extreme conjectures. And better cross your fingers.

August 1, 2021 (change August 1, 2021 | 21:45)

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