On Sunday, 25 September, many Italian citizens in the country will be able to vote to elect the new parliament, which for the first time will be composed of 400 deputies and 200 senators.
Voters need to be at least 18 years of age and get one vote for the Chamber of Deputies and another for the Senate. Unlike Australia, voting isn’t compulsory in Italy.
However, about 5.6 million eligible Italian voters live outside the country.
- Italy goes to the polls to elect a new parliament on 25 September
- Eligible Italian voters living overseas to vote by postal ballot
- This is a snap election, caused by a government crisis resulting in dissolution of parliament in July
Italian voters overseas
Italian citizens living outside the country will elect 12 members in four overseas constituencies: eight members for the Chamber of Deputies and four for the Senate.
The Africa-Asia-Oceania-Antarctica constituency, which also includes Australia, will elect one deputy and one senator.
Italian citizens living in Australia received two ballots by mail, which had to be posted back by 22 September.
Counting for the overseas constituencies will begin at the same time as counting in Italy, on 26 September.
Votes cast in North America and Africa-Asia-Oceania-Antarctica will be counted in Naples.
Australia’s Italian voters
Italian citizens living in Australia have been sent two ballots by post and were instructed to return them by 22 September.
Speaking with members of the community, SBS Italian found that many Italo-Australians did not vote.
Paolo de Luca, 55, moved to Australia 22 years ago and is a chef in Wollongong, New South Wales.
He says he has always voted in Italy’s elections, but this year he has decided to take a step back from Italian politics.
“During these 22 years I’ve been in Australia I’ve always voted. I did it for my friends, for the people I care about who still live in Italy. But I decided that from now on I will vote only if there is a party that I believe in,” he said.
This year I decided that I’m not going to vote anymore for the lesser evil.
Fabio Menichetti, 51, is an accountant in Sydney and has been in Australia for 16 years.
He also used to vote in every Italian election, but not this year.
“When I received the ballots, and I saw that there were just four logos, I didn’t even try to learn more about the candidates,” said Menichetti.
“Voting used to be important for me, even though I’ve lived abroad for many years.
“But this year I could not find any politician or party that is aligned with my values,” he said.
Antonio D who now lives in Brisbane, has also been in Australia for many years.
He didn’t even know that there was an election in Italy.
I try to stay away from Italian politics — I mean, this is one of the main reasons why I left Italy — so I don’t want to know about it at all and even if I see something coming through Facebook I try to ignore it.
For Nadia Fronteddu, a civil engineer who has lived away from Italy for the last 20 years, of which three-and-a-half were in Australia, voting is an important duty as a citizen.
“I’ve been living away from Italy for over 20 years now for work. But I was never in a country long enough to gain the right to vote. And for me it’s not only a right, it’s the duty of a citizen,” said Fronteddu.
She says representatives elected by Italians abroad play an important role.
Our representatives in parliament have, during the pandemic, raised important issues affecting Italians in Australia.
Gino Antognetti, 68, lives in Melbourne and has lived in Australia for 10 years.
He said now, more than ever, it’s important to vote to make sure Italians do not lose some of the rights they have fought for and achieved over many years — referring to the likely win of Italy’s most far-right government in power since World War II.
Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, FDI, a party with a post-fascist origin, is witnessing a very quick rise, from 4 per cent voter support in 2018 to a projected 25 per cent this year.
Silvio Berlusconi, Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini address a rally in Rome on 19 October 2019. Source: AP / Andrew Medichini/AP/AAP Image
“I voted in person at the [Italian] embassy, and posted it on social media because for me, it’s important to help Italy not lose the civil, social and political achievements to which I contributed when I lived Italy,” Mr Antoghetti tells SBS Italian.
These rights, which we have fought for for decades, are now at risk of being lost.
Chiara Aghito, an accountant and resident of Sydney, voted in this election due to her “civil and moral right” but admits she doesn’t feel in touch with what’s happening in Italy.
“I’ve lived in Australia for 15 years. How am I supposed to really know about what’s happening in Italy right now? I voted just because I have a civil duty to vote,” she said.
I think that if one has decided to live abroad, I don’t understand why my vote should matter and influence the lives of those who are still living in Italy.
A smaller Parliament
This is a snap election, caused by a government crisis which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi and resulted in President Sergio Mattarella dissolving the Italian parliament on July 21, eight months before its natural expiration.
After a constitutional referendum held in September 2020, the number of parliamentarians was reduced from 945 to 600.
Seats in the lower house have been cut from 630 to 400, while those in the senate have been brought from 315 to 200.
Enrico Letta, Carlo Cotterelli, Silvia Roggiani, Antonio MIsani and Irene Tinagli at a press conference on September 21.
New election system
Under a new law introduced in 2018, just over one-third of parliamentarians in Italy’s upper and lower houses are elected on a first-past-the-post basis, with the remainder chosen by proportional representation through party lists.
Italy is divided into 28 electoral districts for the election of the Chamber of Deputies and 20 for the election of the Senate.
Parties have to secure at least 3 per cent of the vote to get in, while coalitions require 10 per cent.
There is no longer an automatic majority for any party or group that wins more than 40 per cent of the vote.
Parties can contest by themselves or as part of a coalition.
The winning alliance will need a majority in both houses of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.
Parties and candidates
The so-called “centre-right coalition” (coalizione di centrodestra) is currently leading in the polls and comprises four parties, including Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia, FDI); Matteo Salvini’s Northern League (Lega Nord, LN) and Silvio Berlusconi’s Go Italy (Forza Italia, FI).
The centre-left coalition (coalizione di centrosinistra) is made up of the Democratic Party (Partito Democratico; PD), and many other small parties with progressive positions.
The Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle; M5S) is once again running as a stand-alone party with former prime minister Giuseppe Conte as its leader.
The so-called “Third Pole” (Terzo Polo), is a centrist coalition formed by former minister Carlo Calenda’s Action (Azione) and ex-prime minister Matteo Renzi’s Italy Alive (Italia Viva, IV).
There are lots of other small parties, such as Italexit, which, as the name suggests, is advocating for Italy’s departure from the EU. Parties like this are polling at single-digit percentages, so it’s unlikely that they will obtain many seats.
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