Italian elections: The third sector dictates the agenda

11 Aprile Apr 2008 0200 11 aprile 2008

Italian citizens will flock to the polls on April 13-14 to vote in Italy’s general elections. But the third sector already knows what it expects from the winners. This is their manifesto.

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Italian citizens will flock to the polls on April 13-14 to vote in Italy’s general elections. But the third sector already knows what it expects from the winners. This is their manifesto.

1) A Constituent Convention
Italian civil society believes that organised citizens are the true strength of the nation, and that they will be the force behind a new phase in the development of Italy?s representative democracy. Which is why civil society now asks Italy?s next government to establish a formal assembly with the social sphere to define the relationship between the State and social bodies, to define the boundaries of deliberative public space and the common good. The allocation and management of water, air, land and cultural resources, sustainable mobility, welfare and health care as a universal right for all, the need to build society, economic democracy, the quality of agriculture and food, sustainable tourism, an ethical finance ? these are the issues that civil society wishes to be involved in.

2) Welfare that guarantees rights for all
Italian civil society asks that the political discourse include the basic rights that all citizens have, starting with the weakest and most vulnerable sectors of society.

- The rights of the disabled, and their families: The UN convention on the rights of the disabled must be ratified and be the starting point for specific laws to address the problems that disabled people face. Starting with the right to employment, to recreation and the rights of their families to assistance in caring for the seriously disabled.

- The rights of dependent elders: To be looked after and their needs attended to.

- The rights of minors: About 100 thousand minors are in need of social care, but since 2004 there has been no national plan to attend to them.

- The rights of new immigrant citizens: Italian citizenship is granted too late and the procedures are too complicated.

- Rights to youth: More resources must be allocated to training opportunities for youth, to reducing the precariousness of employment and to providing moral support to all young people.

Find out more: Disability is on our agenda, Family where art thou & Social workers overbooked

3) Horizontal subsidiarity
Not only does horizontal subsidiarity does not exist in Italy today, but it works backwards and never even makes it to the third sector. Throughout the social sphere public policy is still seen as the allocation and distribution of public funds ? late and inefficiently. Italy has not moved on from the idea of the State as the manager of services to the idea of the State as regulator. This must change, and subsidiarity must be encouraged: citizens and their organisations must regain the sovereignty to decide how to meet their social needs.

4) Fiscal subsidiarity
Thanks to the mobilization of thousands of Italian associations and thousands of citizens since May 2005 the ?+ Dai, - Versi? (literally ?the more you give the less you are taxed?) law recognises that charity donations are deductible. And, thanks to the support of 16 million Italian taxpayers, the ?5 x mille? law, allows individuals to transfer 5 thousandths of their income tax to a third sector organisation of their choice. The Italian third sector now asks that the ?+ Dai, - Versi? law no longer have such a restrictive roof, and that the ?5 x mille? become law.

Find out more: Tax measures for the third sector

5) Greater economic democracy
Italy must, as do other European countries, grant social, not for profit organisations, the right to legally participate in economic activities. It is only by fostering cooperative enterprise that welfare can move away from reliance and into a new mode of development, and growth for the country.

6) Foreign policies based on cooperation and peace
Italian civil society asks that international development efforts become Italy?s foreign affair?s priority. Italy must fulfil its international commitments and increase its foreign aid to meet the European objective of 0.51% of Gdp by 2010. The law regulating Italy?s aid for development must also be revised.

7) Foster sober, sustainable lifestyles
Finally, Italian civil society asks the government to promote sustainability in practice, by creating and enforcing laws at all levels that will guarantee green, fair and socially responsible activities.

Find out more:Environment in the spotlight