Italians invited to debate politics online

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The public consultation is open until October 8th . Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP
16:55 CEST+02:00
Italians are being asked to debate politics online, a bold move by the government in a country with low internet usage, and at a time of political disenchantment.
The online questionnaire, launched by the Italian government on Monday, will cover topics including the president's term and the abolition of provinces, according to a message on the website, Partecipa (Participate).
The message added that "the contribution of everyone is important" in order to bring about change, and that the move "represents an instrument for participative democracy, complementary to traditional channels of representative democracy.”
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Italians will have the chance to take part in two short questionnaires over the next three months, the results of which will be published online and passed to Prime Minister Enrico Letta and the working group from the Department of Institutional Reform. The consultation will close on October 8th.

The questionnaires touch upon key political debates, including the future of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, which have similar powers yet operate under different electoral laws. The current structure was seen as a reason for the political stalemate at the national elections in February, which led to a coalition government being sworn in in April.

The government is also seeking opinions on the abolition of provinces, just three days after passing a bill on the subject.

Other topics include the term of the presidency, currently held by Giorgio Napolitano. Italians are being asked if the seven-year term is the best option and if the president should continue to be elected by parliament, or whether citizens should have a role to play.

The government’s move online is unusual given the low levels of internet penetration. Research released in June by the European Commission showed that 37 percent of Italians never use the web, significantly higher than the EU average of 22 percent.

But the government appears determined to push forward into the online sphere: “This is an approach used across the world, it is important to look to the future, using technology to increase participation,” the Participate website said. 

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