The celebrations should serve to remember, to make a budget, to build identity. None of this. Few have remembered the different meanings of the anniversary. The abandonment of the dynastic conception of the head of state, which means open access to all at the top of the state. It also means temporary nature of the position. Few have remembered that for a quarter of a century there was no vote, on June 2, 1946. It was, therefore, the rediscovery of democracy. That day half of the citizens who hitherto lacked the right to participate in active political life (women) voted. That day the constituent process started, because the assembly was also elected which was to give the country a constitution a year and a half later.
That laid the foundations of a new public power, called the Republic, where the term does not mean the opposite of monarchy, but something different, because it means state – order or state – community, that is, also the collectivity of citizens. On June 2, 1946, almost 90 percent of the electorate had gone to vote, that is, the people had rediscovered the possibility of making their voices heard (much more than what happened then, since the electoral participation subsequently went down). Finally, that on June 2 also Garibaldi’s death is commemorated, which took place on the same day in 1882.
Republic is therefore a polysemic word, it carries multiple meanings.
The Constitution uses it more than 70 times. To indicate the form of state, an elective leader instead of a dynastic summit, there was no need. When the Constitution came into force in 1948, the monarchy has been gone for almost two years. So the word means something else. As mentioned above, it indicates the whole of the Italian legal system. It is used in place of the state, to abandon terminology and concepts of fascism, to indicate a public power that includes citizens in their various formations.
But there was also the taste for novelty: the polling station, the possibility of making a choice.
Since 1921 there have been no free elections. In 1924 there was the plank. In 1929 and 1934 the plebiscites. In 1939 the transformation of the Chamber of Deputies into the Chamber of Bundes and Corporations, to choose whose members there was not even the semblance of popular participation, because it was automatically renewed (when a person entered or left the Party’s top organ national fascist or guilds, entered or exited automatically from the Chamber of bundles and guilds).
Let’s go back to the Constitution. As we move away from your date of birth, does it strengthen or weaken?
On the one hand, there is a constitutional patriotism that is strengthened: constitutional values penetrate slowly, just as slowly one realizes the moral heritage represented by the Constitutional Charter. On the other, its opposite is stated. The image of a different Constitution is spreading, an imaginary Constitution is consolidated.
An imaginary Constitution?
Yes, imaginary. Let’s start with words, which hide institutions and values. How many people are those who lead the government with the constitutionally corrected term of Prime Minister? Current usage is “premier” or even “prime minister”. Now, there is a big difference between the President of the Council of Ministers and the figure of the Prime Minister or Prime Minister. The first is a “primus inter pares”. The second is a hierarchical superior. Don’t you see a linguistic shift, indicative of an institutional shift, a centralization of powers to the detriment of the government as a college, and of Parliament? And this is not the only linguistic signal of a modification.
Let’s continue then.
Regional council presidents are currently called governors. The latter term belongs to federal states, such as the United States of America, where those who drive California or Wyoming call themselves governors. Once again, the linguistic signal of an institutional transformation, which leads to the verticalization of power.
Continue to illustrate this (new) imaginary Constitution.
The definition of the Board of Governors as a self-governing body. The Constitution called this collegiate body to manage the career of the judiciary to avoid indirect government influences on justice, through the pressures that can be exercised in the appointment, assignment of posts, promotions of the magistrates. So, configure the High Council as a shield, not as a self-governing body. The use, not only linguistic, supported by the closed citadel of the magistrates, has configured an imaginary Constitution far from that designed by the Constitution, allowing magistrates to feel citizens different from others, because they are self-governing.
There is also bureaucracy. Today everyone says, starting with the President of the Council of Ministers, that bureaucracy must be cut. There is unanimity of opinions in this regard. But it is a synecdoche, because the part is indicated for the whole. He complains that the state as a whole does not work, indicating its terminal part, the administration. At the same time, that terminal part of it is being impeached, and it also takes direct criticism of other parts of the state.
I end the list with the Consulta, the short term with which the Constitutional Court is indicated, a term that originates from the building in which the organ is housed, built in 1700 to house the “Consulta Sagra”, a pontifical judging organ. But the word also indicates an activity, that of a councilor, of who gives opinions, and therefore deflects, in the collective imagination, the attention of those who do not know the law and institutions, from the true activity of the Constitutional Court. To advise is very different from to judge. Those who give an opinion know that it can not be followed, those who judge must obtain obedience. A guarantee body ends up presenting itself linguistically weakened.
What does this linguistic analysis mean?
Words matter, they are full of meanings, they penetrate use, they enter people’s heads, they create convictions, they consolidate them, they arouse expectations and hopes. These words are the sign of an overall shift in the system, which is being transformed, under the influence of many factors, but helped in this shift by linguistic uses and betrayals. Attention, therefore, to the original meanings of the Constitution, if we do not want to find ourselves one day with a material constitution different from the formal Constitution.