Italy - Constitution

{ Adopted on: 22 Dec 1947 }
{ Effective since:
1 Jan 1948 }
{ ICL Document Status: 23 May 2003 }


Article 48 [Voting Rights]

(1) All citizens, men or women, who have attained their majority are entitled to vote.


(2) Voting is personal, equal, free, and secret. Its exercise is a civic duty.


(3) The law defines the conditions under which the citizens residing abroad effectively exercise their electoral right. To this end, a constituency of italians abroad is established for the election of the Chambers, to which a fixed number of seats is assigned by constitutional law in accordance with criteria determined by law.


(4) The right to vote may not be limited except for incapacity, as a consequence of an irrevocable criminal sentence, or in cases of moral unworthiness established by law.


Article 49 [Political Parties]

All citizens have the right to freely associate in political parties in order to contribute by democratic methods to determine national policy.


Article 56 [The House of Representatives]

(1) The house of representatives is elected by universal and direct suffrage.


(2) The number of representatives is six hundred and thirty, of which twelve are elected by the constituency of italians abroad.


(3) Eligible are voters who have reached the age of twenty-five on election day.


(4) Having set aside the seats assigned to the constituency of italians abroad, the distribution of seats among the constituencies is calculated by dividing the population of the last general census by six hundred and eighteen, and distributing the seats in proportion to the population of each constituency, based on the quotients and the largest remainders.


Article 57 [The Senate]

(1) The senate is elected on a regional basis except for the seats assigned to the constituency of italians abroad.

(2) Three hundred and fifteen senators are elected, of which six are elected by the constituency of italians abroad.


(3) No Region shall have fewer than seven senators; Molise has two senators and the Aosta Valley one.


(4) Having set aside the seats assigned to the constituency of italiens abroad, the distribution of seats among the regions is calculated proportionally to the population of the last general census, based on the quotients and the largest remainders.


Article 58 [Elections for the Senate]

(1) Senators are elected universally and directly by voters older than twenty-five years.


(2) Voters older than forty years are eligible to the senate.


Article 60 [Term]

(1) The house of representatives and the senate are elected for five years.


(2) The term of each chamber may not be extended except by law and only in the case of war.


Article 61 [Reelections]

(1) The reelection of new chambers must take place within seventy days from the dissolution of the previous ones. The first session has to be take place no later than twenty days after elections.


(2) The previous chambers retain their powers until the new chambers meet.


Article 75 [Referendum]

(1) When requested by 500,000 voters or by five regional councils, a popular referendum decides on total or partial repeal of a law or other acts with legal force.

(2) No such referenda are allowed for tax or budget laws, amnesties, pardons, or ratification of international treaties.


(3) Citizens entitled to vote for the house of representatives may also participate in a referendum.


(4) The referendum succeeds if a majority of those eligible have participated and if the proposal has received a majority of the valid votes.


(5) The law establishes procedures for referenda.


Article 83 [Election of the President]

(1) The president is elected in joint session of parliament.


(2) Three delegates from every region, elected by the regional councils in a way guaranteeing minority representation, participate in the election. The Aosta Valley is represented by one delegate.


(3) Presidential elections, conducted by secret ballot, require a two-thirds majority of the assembly. After the third ballot a majority of the members is sufficient.


Article 84 [Eligibility, Incompatibility, Allowance]

(1) Any citizen over fifty years enjoying civil and political rights is eligible for president.


(2) The presidency is incompatible with any other office.


(3) Remunerations and endowments of the president are defined by law.


Article 85 [Presidential Term]

(1) The presidential term is seven years.


(2) For the election of a new president, the speaker of the house of representatives summons parliament in joint session with regional delegates thirty days before the end of term.


(3) If the parliament is dissolved within three months of end of term, the new chambers elect the president within fifteen days of their first meeting. Meanwhile, the former president continues to be in power.


Article 87 [Presidential Duties]

(1) The president is head of state and represents the unity of the nation.


(2) The president may send messages to parliament.


(3) He calls parliamentary elections and sets the date of their first meeting.

(4) He authorizes the government's legislative initiatives.


(5) He promulgates laws and issues decrees with the force of law as well as government regulations.


(6) He call a referendum when provided for by the constitution.


(7) He appoints state officials as provided by the laws.


(8) He accredits and receives diplomatic representatives, ratifies international treaties once they are authorized by parliament, provided parliamentary approval is necessary.

(9) He is the commander of the armed forces and chairman of the supreme defense council constituted by law; he declares war according to the decision of the parliament.

(10) He chairs the superior council of the judiciary.


(11) He has the power to grant pardons and commute punishments.


(12) He confers the honors of the republic.


Article 117 [State and Regional Legislative Power]

(1) Legislative power belongs to the state and the regions in accordance with the constitution and within the limits set by european union law and international obligations.

(2) The state has exclusive legislative power in the following matters:

            a) foreign policy and international relations of the state; relations of the state with the european union; right of asylum and legal status of the citizens of states   not belonging to the european union;

            b) immigration;

            c) relations between the republic and religious denominations;

            d) defense and armed forces; state security; weapons, ammunitions and explosives;

            e) money, protection of savings, financial markets; protection of competition; currency system; state taxation system and accounting; equalization of regional             financial resources;

            f) state organs and their electoral laws; state referenda; election of the european parliament;

            g) organization and administration of the state and of national public bodies;

            h) law, order and security, aside from the local administrative police;

            i) citizenship, registry of personal status and registry of residence;

            l) jurisdiction and procedural laws; civil and criminal law; administrative tribunals;
            m) determination of the basic standards of welfare related to those civil and social rights that must be guaranteed in the entire national territory;

            n) general rules on education;

            o) social security;

            p) electoral legislation, local government and fundamental functions of    municipalities, provinces and metropolitan cities;

            q) customs, protection of national boundaries and international prophylactic measures;

            r) weights, units of measurement and time standards; coordination of the informative, statistical and information-technology aspects of the data of the     state, regional and local administrations; intellectual property;

            s) protection of the environment, of the ecosystem and of the cultural heritage.


(3) The following matters are subject to concurrent legislation of both the state and regions: international and european union relations of the regions; foreign trade; protection and safety of labor; education, without infringement of the autonomy of schools and other institutions, and with the exception of vocational training; professions; scientific and technological research and support for innovation in the productive sectors; health protection; food; sports regulations; disaster relief service; land-use regulation and planning; harbors and civil airports; major transportation and navigation networks; regulation of media and communication; production, transportation and national distribution of energy; complementary and integrative pensions systems; harmonization of the budgetary rules of the public sector and coordination of the public finance and the taxation system; promotion of the environmental and cultural heritage, and promotion and organization of cultural activities; savings banks, rural co-operative banks, regional banks; regional institutions for credit to agriculture and land development.
In matters of concurrent legislation, the regions have legislative power except for fundamental principles which are reserved to state law.

(4) The regions have exclusive legislative power with respect to any matters not expressly reserved to state law.

(5) Regarding the matters that lie within their field of competence, the regions and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano participate in any decisions about the formation of community law. The regions and autonomous provinces also provide for the implementation and execution of international obligations and of the acts of the european union in observance of procedures set by state law. state law establishes procedures for the state to act in substitution of the regions whenever those should fail to fulfill their responsibilities in this respect.

(6) The power to issue by-laws is vested in the state regarding all matters where it has exclusive legislative power, insofar as it does not devolve such power to the regions. The power to issue by-laws is vested in the regions in any other matters. Municipalities, provinces and metropolitan cities have regulatory power with respect to the organization and the fulfillment of the functions assigned to them.

(7) Regional laws have to remove all obstacles which prevent the full equality of men and women in social, cultural, and economic life, and promote equal access of men and women to elective offices.

(8) Regional laws has to ratify agreements reached by a region with another region aimed at the better exercise of their functions, including the establishment of joint institutions.


(9) Within its field of competence the region may establish agreements with foreign states and understandings with territorial entities that belong to a foreign state, in the cases and forms provided for by state law.


Article 122 [Regional Form of Government]

(1) The electoral system, the cases of ineligibility and incompatibility of the president and other members of the regional cabinet and the regional council are defined by the laws of the region within the limits of the fundamental principles determined by a state law also specifying the term of elected organs.

(2) Nobody may be at the same time a member of a regional council or a regional cabinet and of either chamber of parliament or of another regional council or another regional cabinet or of the european parliament.

(3) The regional council elects from its own members a president and a president's office.

(4) Regional councilors may not be made liable for opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of their functions.

(5) The president of the regional cabinet, unless provided differently by regional statute, is elected by universal and direct suffrage. The elected president appoints and dismisses the members of the regional cabinet.


Article 123 [Regional Statutes]

(1) Every Region must have a statute determining the form of government and the fundamental principles of the organization and the functioning of the region in accordance with the constitution. The statute defines the exercise of initiative and of referendum on regional laws and regional administrative decisions and the publication of regional laws and regulations.

(2) The statutes is adopted and amended by the regional council by a law approved twice by a majority of its members; votes being taken within an interval of no less than two months. This law must not be submitted to the government's commissioner. Within thirty days of its publication, the central government may challenge the constitutionality of a regional statute before the constitutional court.

(3) The statute has to be submitted to a popular referendum when, within three months of its publication, a request is made by one fiftieth of the electors of the region or by one fifth of the members of the regional council. The statute submitted to referendum may not be promulgated unless approved by a majority of valid votes.

(4) The statute of every region has to provide for a council of local governments, which function as a body for consultations between the region and local authorities.


Article 132 [Regional Boundaries]

(1) By means of a constitutional act and after consulting the regional councils, existing regions may be merged or new regions created, provided the population of any new region is at least one million, when it is so requested by as many municipal councils as represent at least one third of the population involved, and when the proposal has been approved by the majority of the involved population in a referendum.

(2) With the assent of a majority of the people of the province or provinces concerned, and of the municipality or municipalities concerned, expressed by means of a referendum, after consulting the regional council, a state law may allow provinces and municipalities which request it to be detached from one region and assigned to another.


Article 138 [Procedure for Constitutional Amendment]

(1) Law amending the constitution and other constitutional acts are adopted by each of the two chambers twice within no less than three months and need the approval of a majority of the members of each chamber in the second voting.

(2) Such laws are afterwards submitted to popular referendum when, within three months of their publication, a request is made by one fifth of the members of either chamber, by 500,000 electors, or by five regional councils. The law submitted to referendum is not promulgated if it does not receive the majority of valid votes.

(3) No referendum may be held if the law has been approved by each chamber in the second vote with a majority of two thirds of its members.