Federalism, Subnational Constitutions, and Minority Rights

By G. Alan Tarr; Robert F. Williams et al. | Go to book overview

7
Asymmetric,
“Quasi-Federal”
Regionalism and the
Protection of Minorities:
The Case of Italy

Francesco Palermo


MINORITIES AND REGIONALISM IN ITALY:
TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN

Within Italy, approximately 2.5 million people (4.5 percent of the population) belong to—at least—12 minority groups, not taking immigrants into account.1 This makes Italy the EU country in which the most minorities live.2 The Italian Constitution of 1948 treats only language as a distinctive feature for identifying minorities, due to the basic assumption that all Italian citizens are members of the Italian nation, which is therefore a nation of nations. This does not mean that minority features other than language are not recognized, but only that in these cases the legal protection is different: for “other” minorities (racial, sexual, religious, etc.) the general provisions of the equality clause and the nondiscrimination principle of Article 3 of the Constitution apply,3 whereas linguistic minorities are protected by means of “special measures” required by Article 6 of the Constitution.4

In addition, not even all linguistic minorities are officially recognized by the law, so that, in constitutional terms, it is correct to speak only

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