Francesco Medico

The Constitutional Court Deactivates the «Democratic Surplus-Value» of the Referendum. Reflections from the Last Referendum Round

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Referendum; Popular Initiative; Constitutional Court; Admissibility; Constitutional Review of Legislation; Balancing Test

This study analyses the last rounds of Italian referenda from the perspective of the Constitutional Court’s decisions on their admissibility. It focuses in particular on the limits of the Constitutionally mandated implementation law, on the broad interpretation of international obligations, on issues related to the duty of loyal cooperation, and on the question of popular initiative within the existing law. The essay observes a trend of growing attention to constitutional balancing by the Constitutional Court, and growing overlap between questions of referendum admissibility and constitutional legitimacy. Based on this observation, the essay argues that this last round of referenda illustrates the subordination of Art. 75 Italian Constitution to Art. 70 Italian Constitution, confirmed in constitutional case law, and a departure from decision 16/78 Italian Constitutional Court, confirmed by the Court’s deeper embrace of a theory of values. The effect of this new approach, the essay argues, is that of a slow deactivation of the «democratic surplus-value» of the referendum in the Italian constitutional system

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