Italy Must Recognize Its Own People: A Push to Reform the Citizenship Law

Italy must change its definition of the "governed" to include all Italian inhabitants who should have the right to vote and have a say in the political process under which they live.
In December of last year, Italy conducted a referendum in which over 70 percent of the population to vote. However, this impressive turnout did not account for a large chunk of the Italian population – people who were denied the right to vote on the mere basis of their citizenship status.

This vast denial of a basic civil right sparked national calls to reform the Italian law on citizenship. In recent times, the matter has resurfaced on the agenda of the Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Italian Senate. With this resurfacing, there is now hope that Italy will change to become fully inclusive for all its national inhabitants.

The law

Italy's citizenship law is regulated by law n. 91 of 1992. This law stipulates that citizenship can be inherited by birth if one of your parents is an Italian citizen or if you are born in Italy to unknown or stateless parents. Citizenship can also be acquired later if it is adopted or you marry an Italian citizen.

The law is also subject to several bills and proposals, which present some limitations and ambiguities as to its formulation and application.

Four articles govern the acquisition of nationality, including those which allow for a limited version of the ius soli principle, which gives citizenship to those born in the territory of the state. Acquisition of citizenship by the ius culturae is also proposed, however it is subject to age and educational requirements.

Despite the fact that citizenship is governed by several legal principles, it fails to clarify certain circumstances. For example, is citizenship granted to a child with a parent who has a residence permit or has applied for one prior to the child's birth? Are children born to parents without citizenship or residence eligible for citizenship if they complete school education in Italy? Must you or your parents satisfy certain economic criteria and ownership to be eligible for citizenship?

The #Italianisenzacittadinanza movement

The Campaign 'L'Italia sono anch'io' recently launched the movement '#italianisenzacittadinanza' to highlight the exclusion of "non-Italian Italians" from elections, and the subsequent need to reform Italian citizenship law.

The campaign is the leading force behind the motion to resurface discussion of citizenship law in the Italian Senate, and has so far achieved success in raising awareness of the issues involved.

Recognizing Italians as Italians

It is clear that a reform of Italian citizenship law is necessary on the fundamental basis of democratic civil rights. It is necessary to recognize the vote of over one million Italians, those born and raised in Italy, but who have yet to be fully recognized as Italians.

The Italian government has an impact on the lives of all those who are governed by it. Therefore, Italy must change its definition of the "governed" to include all Italian inhabitants and ensure that no one is otherwise administrated with repression.