So, just to get it out real quick: a really important vote just went down here in Italy. Something went just about right, and something probably went fairly wrong. Here’s my point on what I witnessed… and also, probably the closest thing to an explanation of Italian political madness I can give to outside observers not expert on the subject.
December 4, last Sunday, was the day of the Constitutional Referendum. My fellow citizens and I had to decide to fate of a Constitutional Reform that was approved a few months before by the Parliament. Whenever such a law is approved by a majority below what’s called a “qualified majority” ( two thirds of the components) of both houses of Parliament, a popular vote can be requested and indicted to validate the reform.
I won’t go into details of the actual law, which would be super complex and time consuming for non Italian readers. For the issue at hand, suffice it to say it was a pretty signifying change mainly in how the Senate would have been formed and how would it have worked, and also a number of other things, like the President of the Republic’s election, national energetic and health policy, regulations for future referendums, and so on.
The reform was blocked by 59,11% of the voters (last I checked), with subsequently brought Matteo Renzi, our Prime Minister, to announce its resignations. What will happen now, as of yet, is anyone’s guess, but not what I actually wanted to talk about.
I was personally against this particular reform for a number of reasons, though my opinion on the it became more nuanced with every day of researching about the subject matter. In the end, I was pretty sure I was gonna vote against it for different reasons than most of the other voters. I was pretty convinced of my opinion, and thought the final result would have made me feel mostly happy.
I was wrong about that.
I’m not gonna make a lot of political considerations here. To briefly sum up my opinion I didn’t necessarily want the Prime Minister to resign after this loss, though I disagree with him on this reform and a number of other things. I had a couple of different ideas on what could have happened next. I’m not even against reforming the Senate and the rest of the Constitution, I believe it has to be done in some points.
I went to vote on the subject matter, and I am still convinced of my choice. Over my months of reflection, I found a good number of positives in the proposed reformation, but in the end I concluded they were outmatched by the negatives and voted accordingly.
I could even change my ideas about the balance of good and bad elements, though I think I’ll remain of my opinion about which were which, and obviously I respect and consider who thinks otherwise. That wasn’t the question, and it’s not even knowing if I’m right or wrong in the end. What bothers is the attitude with which a lot of people voted.
Right after the results were out, Italian social networks exploded withcelebrating, insults to the Prime Minister, insults from losers to winners and vice versa, and even some absurd totally unrelated outbursts against foreign immigrants and the like. Add a lot of hysteria about the upcoming political situation: vote now, “technical government”, chaos, catastrophe, we’re all gonna die by taxes and/or revolts, niggers out (?), the evil populists are gonna win, the evil corporate power lost, yeah, no, AAAARGH!!!
Seriously, would you just… breathe for a second? What’s f***ing wrong with everyone? What did you believe we were voting for?
To summarize… I’m sad about this. About the awareness that a lot of people did not actually vote about the Constitution and the reform, but for or against a political party or interest. Sad that this half a year of referendum campaign was insult after insult on both sides and rarely and barely a focus on the actual issue. Sad about the ignorance and dishonesty showed by politicians on both sides, and that many people just went along with that.
I’ve been researching and documenting myself for more or less five months, continuosly. Hearing from every source I found, reading, discussing, confronting the old Constitution and the new proposals. I dialogued, and argued, even with some of my relatives and close friends. I changed my mind at least partially on a number of little details. Sometimes I thought a little about reconsidering my opinion. I decided not to, for my reasons. I think I was right, but maybe I was wrong.
I knew that this in the end had to be a politically relevant vote. Everyone in both sides on the campaign, starting with the Prime Minister himself, along with too many people ignorantly shouting made sure of that, mostly by talking anything except the subject matter at hand.
So yes. Maybe the vote truly was about this government, about picking a side and a party to vote with. Maybe the fact that this reform failed, with its good sides as well as flaws, both controversial, will in the end stand in the way of any future attempts to a structural change, as many say.
Maybe now we will face political instability and be left with a weaker position in the European context.
But you know what? I don’t care. I can’t care. It’s only like this because our ignorance as a nation allowed it to. From highest politicians to lower class voters, all of us. I know I personally did not, but I’m going to include myself in the people I’m part of.
I want to make clear that a “they” does not and must not exist. We are a nation. There’s only an “us”. And it was us who decided to campaign and vote on anything except Constitutional issue. It was us who created the ungodly animosity around the question.
Nowhere in the text of the Constitutional reform or in the old one, there was anything of what this vote has been charged with. It was never about which party you pick, or about economics, or international competitiveness of Italy and all of that crap.
Nothing in sane people’s logic should lead to the conclusion that voting against a particular change you don’t like is voting against change, for example.
Nothing in sane people’s logic should have lead to the conclusion that if you don’t like the way a politician is advocating the reform it has to be wrong, either. For many, apparently it did.
I refused to let any of this crap influence my decision. That and arguments like “I can’t vote for this, some people I totally dislike vote for this as well!!”. It’s called human nature, jackass. Sometimes, you’re bound to even have the same opinion of people you even despise.
I voted against, for reasons I could probably discuss elsewhere if anyone is interested. I encourage everyone else to do the same in the future. This will only have certain consequences or not because we made it such. I’d like our nation to be not that dumb-headed again. But these are hard times.
I voted against and in the end my “side” won. That in itself would be good news to me. But to make sure this doesn’t all go down the crapper, we’d have to make sure we didn’t do the right thing for all the wrong reasons.