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Constitutional Law and Regionalism

A Comparative Analysis of Regionalist Negotiations

Vito Breda

This topical book analyses the practice of negotiating constitutional demands by regional and dispersed national minorities in eight multinational systems. It considers the practices of cooperation and litigation between minority groups and central institutions in Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, and the U.S. and includes an evaluation of the implications of the recent Catalan, Puerto Rican and Scottish referenda. Ultimately, the author shows that a flexible constitution combined with a versatile constitutional jurisprudence tends to foster institutional cooperation and the recognition of the pluralistic nature of modern states
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Chapter 4: Italy: constitutional negotiations and tolerance in a patrimonial political system

Vito Breda


This chapter discusses the process of the constitutional accommodation of regionalist demands in Italy. Distinctive drivers of change in the Italian constitutional system include political parties such as the Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP) that promotes the interests of the German-speaking community of South Tyrol, and the Valdostan Union that represents parts of the French-speaking groups in the Aosta Valley. The SVP is distinctive. It has, over the past seven decades, managed to cooperate with central institutions in a way that established an extremely complex process of the recognition and negotiation of identity claims called ‘tolerance trough law’. The South Tyrolean tolerance through the legal system is compared with the rather intolerant political activities of the Lega Nord. The Lega Nord is a new identity-based pollical party that, in the past three decades, has been successful in gaining the votes and the aspirations of Northern Italians. The Lega Nord is, I will argue, a distinctive form of identity politics which is, in many ways, both a reaction to and a product of the systematic corruption inherent in Italian politics. This chapter is divided into three sections, and is preceded by an introduction and followed by a conclusion. The first driver of change discusses the process of the recognition and negotiation of the German-speaking community in South Tyrol. The second section discusses, instead, the Lega Nord’s policies. The third part reflects on the potential general implications of having a process of accommodation for identity-based constitutional claims in a patrimonial system.

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