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2011 | 1(102) | 71-83

Article title

ELECTORAL QUOTAS IN THE ITALIAN LEGAL SYSTEM (Kwoty wyborcze we wloskim systemie prawnym)


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Parliamentary electoral system, established in Italy in 1948, was based on proportional representation for both chambers of parliament. In 1993 this system was abrogated by virtue of the provisions of Laws No. 276 and 277, and a mixed substantially majoritarian system was introduced. A new modification of electoral system was made in 2005 when Law No. 270 was adopted and the return to proportionality, although with a majority premium, took place. The majority premium consists of giving a premium in seats to the (party) list having obtained the highest number of votes throughout the entire country in the election to the Chamber of Deputies and - in a regional level - in the election to the Senate. At the same time, in Italy five abrogative referendums were held, on application of citizens, in relation to laws governing general or local elections. In the first half of the 1990s, in the wake of the debate about gender issues, there appeared in the course of political debate the problem of equal opportunities of men and women and ways of counteracting the inadequate representation of women in political bodies chosen in general and direct elections (municipal, provincial and regional councils and national parliament). The article contains description of various techniques aimed at increasing women's participation in political institutions. The author identifies two stages in search for solutions to the problem: the years 1993-1995 and the years 2001-2010. At the first stage, the following types of regulations were applied: 1) political parties were legally obliged to submit electoral lists containing certain minimum percentage of candidates of both men and women, however this system of reservation on electoral lists of a particular quota for women did not guaranteed their election; 2) granting of quotas on the closed electoral lists with an obligation to arrange electoral lists that would include both men and women alternately, which guaranteed some 'quota' of seats for each of them. However, this system was challenged by the Italian Constitutional Court which found the above-mentioned provisions concerning the so-called 'electoral quotas' to be unconstitutional and, hence, they were deleted from the legal system. The judgment was criticized by those political groups which, in the Constitutional Law No. 3 of 2001, had adopted a constitutional provision which requires that 'regional laws shall remove any hindrances to the full equality of men and women in social, cultural and economic life and promote equal access to elected offices for men and women', and added - in the Constitutional Law No. 1 of 2003 -that 'to this end, the republic adopts specific measures in order to promote equal chances for men and women.' Thereby, an obligation to promote equal chances of men and women at both regional and national level was confirmed. The above-mentioned amendments preceded the second stage of search for adequate solutions. In Valle d'Aosta a regional law was adopted in 2002 that prohibited against the creation of electoral lists containing candidates of only one sex. The government of the Republic brought the law to the Constitutional Court, which however did not share the government's arguments, drastically changing its attitude to electoral quotas comparing with the Court's judgment of 1995. This meant, first of all, its approval of the possibility of regulation of electoral quotas by both regional laws (Valle d'Aosta, Calabria, Marche, Abruzzo, Sicily) and national laws. In 2009, the question of electoral quotas was inventively treated by the regional council of Campania (in regional law No. 4 of 2009), by making reference to electoral quotas in the context of both the right to vote and the right to be elected. That solution was a new approach. The law was brought by the government of the Republic to the Constitutional Court, which did not agree with the government and found the law to be constitutional.





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  • Marco Olivetti, Facolta di Giurisprudenza, Universita degli Studii di Foggia, Via A. Gramsci 89/91, Foggia, 71100 Puglia, Italy


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