‘More rights and more humanity’: Italy overhauls anti-immigration security decree

An update to the anti-migrant "security decree" introduced by former interior minister Matteo Salvini reinstates humanitarian protection for migrants and toughens punishments for violent and mafia-related crime.

'More rights and more humanity': Italy overhauls anti-immigration security decree
Migrants from Libya and east Africa pray on board the Sea-Watch rescue ship off the coast of Sicily. Photo: AFP

The changes mean it is again possible for refugees and migrants arriving in Italy to apply for humanitarian protection or obtain work permits.

The government has also cut the time needed for Italian citizenship applications to be processed down from four years to three, Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reports – though the timeframe was two years before the so-called “Salvini decree” became law in 2018.
“Tonight a wall comes down in Italy. We took a while, a bit too long, but now Salvini's so-called 'security decrees' are no longer,” Peppe Provenzano, Minister for the South with the co-ruling Democratic Party (PD) said. adding. “Onward towards a country with more right and more humanity”.
“The Council of Ministers has approved the immigration decree. The Salvini decrees are finally overturned and work is being done on healthy integration, respecting human rights. Security and hospitality are not incompatible but are two fundamental values ​​to be defended”. Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri tweeted.
Italy's current centre-left coalition government had pledged on coming to power last year that it would overhaul the former minister's rules, which included fines of up to one million euros for the crew of charity ships rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.
Charities carrying out rescues in line with maritime law and in coordination with national authorities will no longer be fined.
However any rescue ships deemed to be operating illegally can be punished with fines of between 10,000 and 50,000 euros, with the possibility of up to two years in prison for crew members.

Salvini, head of the right-wing populist League, made introducing anti-migration laws a priority when he came into government with his “Italians first” and “closed ports” messages.
“The government is opening doors and ports to illegal migrants,” Salvini tweeted, adding: “Italy deserves better”.
Protests in Rome against salvini's 2018 security decree. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
He ended Italy's two-year “humanitarian protection” residency permits, which were approved for 25 percent of asylum seekers in 2017.
Asylum was only granted to those who risked being tortured if repatriated. Protection will now be extended to those who risk being subjected to inhuman
or degrading treatment, or having their right to private and family life violated.
The new law also reintroduces the use of smaller reception and integration centres for hosting refugees, which Salvini had scrapped. They are widely thought to be more effective than the large centres now being used.
Migrants granted permits to stay will have the possibility to convert them into work permits, the prime minister's office said.
However, notably the new decree does not make allowances for second-generation migrants born in Italy, who have long campaigned for the right to apply for (or be automatically granted) Italian citizenship before they turn 18.
Italy's new security decree also provides stiffer penalties for mafia-related crime and violent crimes.
It includes tougher punishments for assault, increasing from a maximum fine of 309 euros to 2000 euros and imprisonment.
It also increases the maximum prison term for anyone found guilty of “facilitating communications with the outside world” for mafia members imprisoned under Italy's tough '41bis' regime, which completely isolates mobsters to stop them running their empires from behind bars.

Member comments

  1. Inconvenient truths.
    Almost 800.000 immigrants not from the war but for economic reasons.
    250.000 immigrants committed crimes.40% rapes.
    5 million Italian unemployed.
    5 million living at the poverty level.

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EXPLAINED: Why does Italy have so many political parties?

As more than a hundred political parties register ahead of Italy's upcoming election, here's why and a look at the ones you need to know about.

EXPLAINED: Why does Italy have so many political parties?

Italy is gearing up for an early general election on September 25th, and so far the number of different parties and alliances in the running can seem overwhelming.

While they won’t all be approved, a total of 101 political parties and movements submitted their symbols and leaders’ names to the Italian interior ministry on Sunday.

READ ALSO: Why has Italy’s government collapsed in the middle of summer?

Meanwhile, parties are busy forging electoral alliances that include up to eight or nine members.

It may look chaotic, but a large number of small parties and numerous complex alliances is standard in Italy’s electoral system.

Here’s a look at why, how it all works, and which of the parties to watch. And we’ll try to keep it brief.

How many political parties are there exactly?

It’s not yet known for sure how many of the 101 political parties and movements which submitted their symbols and leaders’ names to the Italian interior ministry for approval on Sunday.

But not all of these submissions will be approved, and those who do go forward will need to collect the 36,750 signatures necessary for their candidates to stand for seats in the lower house of parliament, and a separate 19,500 to get onto the ballot for the Senate.

The parties also now have until August 22nd officially register their candidate lists, or liste elettorali.

These lists of prospective MPs are seen as vitally important, and as such are reported on in detail by Italian media: all of these names will feature on the ballot, and voters have the option to name up to three individuals they want to support.

Each list is headed by the party leader, who would then be their choice for prime minister. But some – usually smaller – parties choose to link their lists together under one leader’s name.

Ok, so which of these parties do I need to know about?

At this stage, it’s safe to say quite a few of the 101 parties and movements mentioned earlier are not serious contenders.

The number of parties you’ll actually need to know about in order to follow the election race is much smaller (although it’s still more than the two or three some of us are used to following in our home countries).

You’ve probably heard of at least some of Italy’s biggest political parties: Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy, or FdI); Partito Democratico (Democratic party, PD); Lega (the League); Forza Italia; Viva Italia; and Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five Star Movement, or M5S).

READ ALSO: Who can vote in Italy’s elections?

As well as these, some relatively small parties that you may never have heard of are also likely to be decisive in the outcome of the election, if not in the formation of the next government.

That includes groupings of several parties that have joined the large right- and left-wing alliances.

What are these alliances?

Electoral alliances between two, three or more parties are vital, because the way Italy’s political system works means it’s almost impossible for one single party to take enough of the vote to rule alone.

Italy essentially has a multi-party system – in contrast to the two-party system in countries like the US and UK – designed after the second world war (and Italy’s Fascist era) to prevent any one party from being in complete control.

Image: Demopolis

So parties must team up and form these alliances with similar parties to fight elections. Then, they often have to join forces with yet more parties or alliances to form a government – often, these coalition partners are from a different part of the political spectrum.

As a result, Italy has had a long series of fractious governments made up of numerous parties with vastly differing viewpoints (which, perhaps unsurprisingly, don’t tend to last very long).

Here’s a look at the three main electoral alliances in the running this time around, and the parties within them, as well as a few other contenders you may hear about in the news:

  • Centre-right

The so-called centre-right or ‘centrodestra’ alliance is led by the hard-right Brothers of Italy, the biggest party in Italy according to the latest opinion polls, along with the populist League, led by Matteo Salvini, and Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia

READ ALSO: An introductory guide to the Italian political system

These three heavyweights, predicted to take around 45 percent of the vote between them, have now been joined by a grouping of smaller, more moderate parties – a coalition within a coalition, if you will – who are running under one list.

This list is named Noi Moderati (‘we moderates’), and is made up of the following small parties: UDC, Coraggio Italia, Noi con Italia and Italia nel centro. 

Altogether, the ‘centrodestra’ alliance is essentially the same one that came close to winning the last election in 2018.

  • Centre-left

On the other side of the ring sits Italy’s second-largest party: the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which is polling just behind FdI but hasn’t formed similar powerful alliances that would make it a credible challenge to a right-wing landslide.

The centre-left alliance, called the PD-IDP, is made up of four different lists, or groupings of similar small parties:

    • Democrats and Progressives (PD along with Article 1 and Socialists)
    • Più Europa (a grouping of small pro-European parties)
    • L’Alleanza Verdi e Sinistra (Greens and Italian Left, an alliance known as AVS)
    • Impegno Civico (IC leader Luigi Di Maio is heading a list including candidates from two other small parties: Centro Democratico and Psdi, the Italian Democratic Socialist Party.)

All these parties together are currently expected to take around 32-34 percent of the vote.

  • ‘Third pole’

After breaking an agreement to ally with PD, centrist party Azione formed a pact with Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva to create a third alliance, which they called “a third pole” and described as a “pragmatic alternative to the bi-populism of the right and left”.

The two are currently running together along with a smaller party, Lista Civica Nazionale.

The so-called A-IV alliance is currently polling at five percent.

  • Five Star Movement

Now led by former prime minister Giuseppe Conte, the populist Five Star Movement is the only major party running alone.

The party is significantly diminished since it shot to power on the protest vote in 2018. 

After several years of hemorrhaging support and recently splitting as former leader Di Maio left to form his own party, Impegno Civico (which is running as part of the centre-left coalition), M5S is expected to take around ten percent of the vote – sharply down from 32 percent in the 2018 elections.

Who else is out there?

There are currently dozens of new and unaffiliated parties out there, though very few are likely to reach the number of signatures needed for their list to appear on the ballot.

In theory, some of the more notable smaller parties and movements could take a small share of the vote each – though it’s unlikely to be enough for them to obtain representation in parliament.

The better-known of these parties include single-issue parties like Italexit (Eurosceptic), which is currently polling at three percent.

There’s also the Partito Gay (campaigning for LGBTQ rights) as well as anti-establishment groups such as the Movimento Gilet Arancioni (Orange Vests Movement), while many of Italy’s most prominent politicians, such as current health minister Roberto Speranza, also lead their own small parties.

Find all the latest news on Italy’s election race here.