Last-minute appeals for parliament to fit in an immigrant children citizenship law called ‘ius soli’ (law of the soil) before it is dissolved appeared to be in vain Wednesday.
President Sergio Mattarella is set to dissolve parliament on Thursday ahead of a general election in just over a couple of months, parliamentary sources said this week.
The most likely election date is March 4.
The ‘Italians without citizenship’ group of immigrant children – representing some 800,000 would-be citizens – has appealed to the president to allow parliament to first approve ‘ius soli’. “I urge President Mattarella to give parliament two more weeks to debate and pass ius soli,” said Luigi Manconi, a Senator for the ruling centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
“I urge him to do so, with the confidence that is due to a gentleman whose intellectual rectitude and social sensitivity is well known,” said Manconi.
The Green Party, for their part, appealed to Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso “to convene the Senate before the end of the year”.
Gianni Cuperlo, former chair of the PD, said “the PD must ask Mattarella to prolong the legislative term”.
But with the majority of parliament including the centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) against the bill, the chances of it being tabled appeared very slim.
“Mattarella mustn’t listen to the left,” said Roberto Calderoli, a heavyweight in the anti-migrant, anti-euro League (L).
Deborah Bergamini, the communications chief of FI, said the majority of Italians were against the bill and they should be allowed to show what they think in the upcoming election campaign.
“Mattarella should let that majority decide,” said the FI spokeswoman.
But many voices in the PD would not be stilled.
Barbara Pollastrini, the deputy chair of the party, said “The PD should ask for the necessary time to approve ius soli and the government should not be afraid of putting the issue to a confidence vote”.
In other remarks from the side that appears to have won the battle, Giorgia Meloni of the rightist nationalist Brothers of Italy (FdI) party said the heads of UNICEF Italia owed Italians who are against the law an apology for allegedly calling them “idiots” and “Fascists”.
Writing on Facebook, she said “it’s the least the leaders of a UN organisation can do”.
FI Senator Maurizio Gasparri said his party and others had “won the battle for realpolitik” after a long migrant crisis.
Loredana De Petris of the PD splinter group Free and Equal (LeU) insisted, however, that “the only way forward on ius soli is a confidence vote”.
The citizenship bill was repeatedly promised by the PD but it recently had to come to terms with the fact that it could not muster a majority behind it because of opposition from its centrist junior partner Popular Alternative (AP).
The government would therefore have risked falling if it put the widely called-for bill to a confidence vote.
AP recently fell apart but is still formally part of the government.
The opposition of the M5S, which had previously abstained on the bill, thus became critical.
The bill would have granted citizenship rights to the children of regular immigrants, born in Italy, who have spent at least five years in the Italian school system.
Currently these kids have to wait until they’re 18 to apply for citizenship.
The bill would cut that to 10 or 12.
Centre-right and rightist parties have sought, successfully, to link the bill to Italy’s migrant crisis, falsely suggesting that citizenship would be given to any kid arriving on Italian shores.