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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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7. Conclusion 125

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CHAPTER 7 Conclusion This study has sought to undertake a detached and reflective view of the more than ten years in which Italians abroad have benefited from an extension of their constitutional right to participate in Italian elec- tions. In this period they have voted in their expatriate constituencies and elected representatives from among their expatriate residents in country. These representatives, twelve Deputies and six Senators, have been able to sit in the Italian parliament alongside the other members of parliament elected in Italian constituencies. The democ- ratic right extended to Italians abroad was from the outset widely rec- ognized as not only generous but also both ambitious and radical. By this electoral privilege and beyond all expectations the Italian Dias- pora was provided with a remarkable chance to engage politically with their homeland. In the more than ten years following the passage of Law 459 in 2001 Italians overseas have been able to participate in national elec- tions (in 2006, 2008 and 2013) and in referendums (in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2009 and 2011). This participation allows a full opportunity to assess both its effectiveness on the one hand, and on the other whether or not this reform was worth doing in the first place. While the long journey of introducing the expatriate vote began in 1955, the major tasks involved in changing the Italian Constitution and pulling to- gether bipartisan groups to draft legislation acceptable to all in the Italian parliament did not occur until the 1990s. The final...

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