It was in the electoral program of the League, and they have wasted no time to apply it. The new Italian government of Giorgia Meloni, made up of the Brothers of Italy, the League and Forza Italia, has dusted off an old debate on whether it is necessary to give greater autonomy to the regions that request it to the detriment of central power. It is the main objective of the new Italian Minister of Regional Affairs, the league member Roberto Calderoli, who has already met with the regional presidents to present them with a draft to reform the territorial organization of the Italian State that has raised many blisters in the south. Vincenzo de Luca, governor of Campania, has accused him of attacking the unity of Italy, and that of Apulia, Michele Emiliano, of not respecting the Constitution.
This is a draft law to implement articles 116 and 117 of the Italian Constitution, where it is written that new forms of autonomy can be granted "under the initiative of the region concerned." It is something that was achieved thanks to the constitutional reform of 2001, approved by referendum after the initiative of the progressive government of the time, led by Giuliano Amato. But it was never applied. In 2017, Lombardy and Veneto (through a consultative referendum) and Emilia-Romagna requested that this procedure be activated to have more powers, without any progress.
Now, Italy may be at the beginning of this path that has already been baptized in the media as "a la carte federalism". There are 23 competencies that each region, if they so wish, could request to manage, several or all of them. Among them, education, international relations of the regions and with the EU, foreign trade, health, civil protection or civil ports and airports. Some, like Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont, have already said they want them all. Others, such as Tuscany, are interested in some, that of the appreciation of cultural assets. In order to avoid that a citizen of a region has worse services than in others, for example, in nurseries, the essential levels of provision (LEP, for its acronym in Italian) are foreseen, which the State must guarantee.
The territorial debate in a country whose unification was recent is not new. Some say that giving the regions more autonomy will deepen the gap between the industrial locomotive of the north of the country and the impoverished south, and those who think otherwise, that it will benefit the whole. "It will allow the regions that are less fast to catch up with those that run," Calderoli has defended before his critics.
Although the league member says that it will be done during 2023, the members of Hermanos de Italia are already stepping on the brakes and allege that the autonomic question will be touched upon when the constitutional reform is addressed to convert the country towards presidentialism, in the French style, a reform much broader that would prolong the debate. All this could open a gap between the League and the Brothers of Italy, a party that until these elections harvested many more votes in the south and whose leaders have a centralist soul, while the right-wing north was reserved for the League and Forza Italia. But now, Brothers of Italy have beaten the League even in their fiefdoms in Veneto and Lombardy. "Brothers of Italy has a good problem because if it does not support autonomy, it becomes evident in these regions," explains Luigi Curini, a political scientist at the University of Milan. “The League can get electoral gain by being able to tell its voters in Veneto that Brothers of Italy prevents autonomy. It is a subject on which they are going to want to differentiate ”, he abounds.
A very necessary issue for the League of the weakened Matteo Salvini, who has returned to defend his soul based in the north after his project of turning the party into a populist artifact at the national level has not worked for him at the electoral level. The barons don't want to wait. And Luca Zaia, the powerful president of Veneto, already warned him during the electoral campaign that autonomy is an issue worth breaking the government for.