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The 2001 Italian expatriate vote: Was it worth it?

A view from the Africa-Asia-Oceania-Antarctica college

Bruno Mascitelli, Rory Steele and Simone Battiston

This book examines the implementation and consequences of the Italian expatriate vote and representation introduced in 2001 in the external electoral colleges with special attention to the Electoral College known as Africa-Asia-Oceania-Antarctica. The Italian elections of 2006, 2008 and 2013 were important moments where the expatriate vote was expressed providing results which Italian lawmakers may have not anticipated. Moreover, the electoral expressions of the external colleges were not always in accord with Italians ones. This study examines how the stakeholders in the Africa-Asia-Oceania-Antarctica college understood and perceived this voting and representation facility after its implementation. What they thought in 2001 and what they think now. The study seeks the views of focus groups across numerous cities in Australia, interviews the protagonists and provides critical commentary on the future of this «right» and whether all this effort «was worth it» in providing Italians abroad with external voting and representation in elections and referendums.

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2. Enfranchising Citizens Abroad 25

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CHAPTER 2* Enfranchising Citizens Abroad Italy’s model of expatriate voting and parliamentary representation is indeed a remarkable feat with regard to the growing phenomenon of engagement by homeland politics with diasporic communities. It represents an intriguing window on a major international trend – that of nation states seeking to embrace the wider nation well beyond their borders. It is not the scope of this book to comprehensively deal with that trend, but a brief consideration of it will help put Italy’s effort in context. This chapter looks at how selected countries have in recent years reached out to their Diasporas, and how far they have advanced the issue of franchise. While some countries (for example Greece) are still debating whether to alter their electoral legislation and reserve a number of parliamentary seats for their expatriate communities; others have fully enfranchised them (for example France, Portugal and Italy). Expatriate voting must be understood against the background of recent and current Diaspora definition, formation, and the relationship between country of origin and host country. According to Michael Fullilove (2008) over the last twenty years not only have Diasporas increased, but even their nature has become even more complex and mobile than in the past. He eloquently observes that, “Diaspora con- sciousness is on the rise: Diasporans are becoming more interested in their origins, and organising themselves more effectively; homelands are revising their opinions of their Diasporas as the stigma attached to emigration declines” (Fullilove 2008: vii – emphasis in the original). The field of...

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