In recent weeks you may have come across a viral video that is Italian mayors pleading with their residents to obey restrictions and stay home.
The hilarious video features mayors out in their communities personally telling people to go home. Shaming pet owners for their suddenly incontinent dogs that need to be walked many times a day. And a sombre warning that the illegal hairdresser appointments would only lead to good hair in your coffin.
While the video is truly entertaining and very funny to watch it holds an extremely important message, stay home!
Over the past eight weeks, Italy has had some of the strictest quarantine laws in the world, second perhaps only to Wuhan during the earliest stages of the outbreak. Many factors contributed to the need for such restrictions and while these local mayors are doing a fantastic job enforcing these new rules, who actually made them?
Italian Government Structure
Italy is currently a democratic republic, formed in 1948, in fact, the country’s official name translates to the Italian Republic. In 1946 Italians voted in a referendum to end the previous monarchy and become a republic.
The referendum coincided with the ending of World War II when the Italian public had ceased their support of the reigning monarchs.
The Italian royal family had fell out of favour when they supported Benito Mussolini’s rule of the country. Mussolini allied with Nazi Germany in 1936 before entering World War II on the German side. It wasn’t until 1943 when the Allies invaded Sicily that Italy signed an armistice and declared war on Germany.
In 1945 Mussolini, who had been rescued from prison by Germans, was recaptured by Italy and subsequently executed. In the most simple terms, Mussolini’s death and the next year’s referendum would put Italy on track towards its current political structure.
Today Italy is in what it refers to as the “Second Republic.” The first republic lasted until the early 1900s when a series of serious scandals that rocked the Italian political scene.
Mani Pulite is a term coined by Italian newspapers in the 1990s to describe the nationwide investigation into illegal political party funding. The investigation saw more than 400 city councils dissolved due to corruption charges and up to 5,000 public figures came under investigation.
It’s believed that in the 1980s up to USD 4 billion worth of bribes were paid annually as bids for large government contracts. While the corruption and scandals are a very complex history in and of themselves, we’ll save you some of the drier details.
All that is important to know is that many of the seemingly indestructible parties were disbanded as a result of the scandal, and voters demanded significant changes to Italy’s government. It is also worth noting that though the current political landscape is known as the Second Republic, no actual changes were made to the constitution.
The Italy that we know today, or at least from a governmental point of view, is referred to as the “Second Republic.”
Following the scandals of the 1980s, Italians became increasingly determined for transparency of the government. Although there were no constitutional changes made, the political landscape in Italy looks vastly different. Many of the seemingly indestructible large political parties shut down.
States, provinces, regions? How does Italy divide its land and who is in charge?
Italy is one of few countries that have both a president and prime minister.
Honestly speaking, the role of president is far more ceremonial than political. The president has very little political power, however, they are charged with appointing the prime minister.
The prime minister officially sits below the president on the political hierarchy however they hold much more political power. The prime minister is appointed by the president but only if they have the confidence of the Italian parliament to hold the role. As this role is appointed rather than elected, there is no maximum term for the position.
Italy is divided into 20 regions, each with a regional government known as regional councils. These regions act in similar ways to states and are entrusted with the power to pass laws and issue administrative regulations.
So, who did we see in the Italian Mayor video?
Looping back to where we started, no we didn’t forget the funny video, we just wanted to give you a history lesson first, who was in the video?
Following almost 100,000 individuals charged with breaking quarantine orders delivered by the prime minister, mayors from across the country took to Facebook to warn their citizen. As mayors, they are the highest-ranking officials in their respective municipal governments. This means they not only need to protect their citizens, but they may be held accountable if their residents continue to flaunt social distancing rules.
One of the mayors in the original video, Cateno De Luca, mayor of Messina, has gone even further since he first posted his video to Facebook. Seen in his first video warning those who break quarantine to “watch out” as “nobody goes out in Messina” he’s since come out with a new idea to keep people inside. Curse drones. That’s right, he wants drones to take flight through Messina and yell profanity at people wandering the streets – what an idea, what a great example of Italian ingenuity!
Italy has a complex and incredibly interesting political history. It is very unlike many of the political systems of other European countries and has lived under just about every political rule you can think of!
There’s plenty of ways to learn all about the country’s diverse, peculiar and ancient political history. From visits to the Roman Forum to the stunning museums in Florence, you’ll learn a bit of something new around every corner in this country.
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