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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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4. Views from the Focus Groups: Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne 71

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CHAPTER 4 Views from the Focus Groups: Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne No one anywhere in the world knew what to expect with the introduc- tion of Italian expatriate postal vote and the Diaspora parliamentary representation in 2001 (Law 459/2001). In Italy and abroad such a novelty may have caused both excitement and bemusement. Abroad it initially made little impact until its first implementation in the 2003 and 2005 referendums, and later in the 2006 national elections. Lead- ers of Italian expatriate communities were quick to inform fellow ex- patriates and their communities of the new status they had acquired and how this might provide services and support they might otherwise not have. In this initial period speculation was rife over pension rights, re-acquired Italian citizenship and even greater access to Italian televi- sion. Finally there was a feeling that the decades of being forgotten as Italians abroad might be redressed. As the electoral campaign acquired momentum in 2006, and again in 2008 and in 2013, the issues ad- dressed by the candidates began to reveal the limits to this representa- tion in Parliament, indicating how existing Italian parties with candi- dates representing them had their own party policies which could only marginally meet the aspirations of Italians abroad. This is a study of the views of a selected group of the electorate of Italian expatriates, namely those residing in the cities of Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and enrolled in the off-shore Italian electoral college of Africa-Asia-Oceania-Antarctica (AAOA). While anecdotal evidence...

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