The five referendums on judiciary failed. The quorum goal of 50 percent remained far off: in fact, the turnout stopped at 21 percent.
A serious mistake by voters
Yet the five questions dealt with an issue that should concern all citizens. Many have had to deal with the Italian justice system and potentially all may have to deal with it in the future, some as defendants and some as plaintiffs. There is also little doubt that there is something wrong with our country's justice system: just think of the length of civil trials (7.5 years for three instances), which is more than twice as long as in major European countries. Or to the fact that in the last 30 years the state - and therefore taxpayers - have had to shell out more than 800 million euros to victims of unjust imprisonment or miscarriages of justice.
The five questions would not have been a panacea for all ills, but they would have helped alleviate some of them. We will not delve into explaining why, but refer to our researcher Alberto Aimi's timely clarification:
Right-wing voters between apathy and self-defeat
If referendums concerned all citizens, those on the right should have been the most affected. If only because they are the first victims of another major problem: the politicization of the judiciary. Mindful of the long judicial persecution suffered by Silvio Berlusconi, aware of the one still ongoing against Matteo Salvini, mindful of the one soon to come against Giorgia Meloni, they should have poured to the polls to change something.
They did not. Considering the relatively high percentages of those who voted but for NO (ranging from 26 percent to 46 percent), those who supported the referendum' intentions were 6.5 million at best, 4.8 at worst. We are between 10% and 15% of those eligible to vote. Many fewer than those who theoretically identify themselves with the Right: looking at the polls, even taking into account the abstainers, we would be at about 30 percent of eligible voters aligned with the Center-Right. And, as mentioned, these polls will also have affected citizens not sympathetic to these political forces.
This confirms what has already been observed after previous elections: namely, the increasing difficulty of center-right parties to mobilize their electorate and bring them to the polls. This is an issue they need to reflect on as soon as possible, because with disaffected and demoralized supporters there can be no victory in next year's general elections.
However, everything cannot be blamed on the parties. Citizens are not children who need to be led by the hand all the time. They must become active subjects, capable of self-mobilization, aware of their own interests and ready for the smallest of sacrifices necessary to make them count: going to the polls and voting. Exactly as citizens on the left do. Unfortunately, on the right we discount old vices (cultural subalternity, lack of organized civil society, anti-politics, etc.) to which is added a certain self-defeat. People on the right voted en masse two years ago to confirm the legislation cutting the number of parliamentarians, further emptying legislative power - that is, of the citizens themselves! - to the benefit of the globalist and progressive technocracy.
This time, that it was a matter of bringing back into the democratic balance of powers one of the apparatuses most instrumentalized by the Left - the judiciary, precisely - the right-wing voters foolishly thought of going to sea. Except to return from today to make "the revolution" on social media or in the pub.
The quorum issue
A comprehensive reflection should be made on the referendum institution as well. Yesterday, June 12, saw the lowest referendum turnout ever. Worse even than the 2009 referendums, which talked about linking electoral lists to obtain the majority prize: 23 percent voted.
Looking at a list of the repeal (thus with a quorum requirement) referendums held so far in Italy, one will discern a clear downward trend in turnout. It is no coincidence that the highest was the first (88 percent, divorce referendum), while the lowest was the last. The three referendums of the 1970s all saw more than 80 percent of eligible voters vote. In the 1980s the share dropped below that threshold, from 79% in 1981 to 65% in 1987. The 1990s saw the first failed referendums due to lack of quorum and turnouts below 60 percent, except for the "anti-party" referendums in 1993 that were held in the wake of Tangentopoli, bringing 77 percent of voters to the polls. Since 1997, 34 referendums have been held: of these only four have reached a quorum, and with a not reassuring 55%. Even of the four constitutional referendums (thus without a quorum requirement) held during the same period, one had turnout well below 50 percent and two barely above the threshold.
It is clear that the problem lies not only in these questions. The problem lies in a republic that is, etymologically, everyone's thing but in which fewer and fewer want to participate. Should the disengagement of most deprive so many of their rights? If the answer is no, the time has come for the quorum requirement to be eliminated for repeal referendums as well, or for it to be revised downward to fit the new reality. One idea would be to tie the quorum size to a fraction (50 percent or less) of the actual voters in the last general election. For example, by doing so, the quorum today would be a maximum of 35 percent. A much more credible goal in the current state of our democracy.
Founder and President of Centro Studi Machiavelli. Graduated in Historical Sciences (University of Milan) and PhD in Political Studies (Sapienza University), he is professor of "History and doctrine of jihadism" and "Geopolitics of the Middle East" at Cusano University. From 2018 to 2019 he was Special Advisor on Immigration and Terrorism to the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Guglielmo Picchi. His latest book (as editor) is Topicality of sovereignism. Between pandemic and war.