Not enough is said about the scandal surrounding the lists of soldiers in the May 14-15 local elections

Not enough is said about the scandal surrounding the lists of soldiers in the May 14-15 local elections

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Local Elections 2023

Another round, another run. Also in the administrative elections on May 14th and 15th, 2023, tens of thousands of Italians will have the opportunity to experience how hateful and unjust some privileges can be. Or rather, how the distortions of interpretation of even untouchable laws undermine the bond of trust between citizens and institutions and contribute to the dissatisfaction with politics that is often inappropriately talked about. We refer to what is now called “military lists“, a perfectly legal mechanism by which thousands of law enforcement, military and other actors are granted dozens of days of paid leave without doing practically anything.

The holiday for workers and military recruits

To understand what we’re talking about and why it’s a national disgrace, we need to provide some contextual information. Every citizen with political rights must be able to exercise their right to vote and to stand as a candidate: vote, stand as a candidate, support the election campaign. Over the years, legislators have worked to remove the barriers that stood between citizens and their rights and to facilitate access to active and passive voters in every respect. In this sense, the prediction of Vacation days so that you can take part in the election campaign to workers who choose to apply and make their contribution to the management of public affairs. The underlying reasoning focuses on a common principle: politics must not become a matter for a few, i. For example, national collective agreements provide for the possibility of using a holiday period in the event that civil servants (on a civil servant basis) decide to stand for election. In order.

So what’s the problem? Well, we forgot to mention an important detail, a “very Italian” one to quote a hit TV series. In fact, campaigning leave is free for all workers, with the exception of members of the police and military.

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There Law No. 121 of April 1, 1981Article 81 (which governs the political conduct of police officers) states:

Members of the police force who are candidates for political or administrative elections are placed on leave by check for the duration of the election campaign from the date of acceptance of the candidacy and may engage in political and propaganda activities outside of their respective offices in civilian dress.

As far as members of military bodies are concerned, this must be pointed out in Article 1484 of the Code of the Military Order:

Military candidates for elections to the European Parliament and for political or administrative elections are free to engage in political and propaganda activities outside the military environment and in civilian dress. They receive special leave for the duration of the election campaign.

This is a fully paid periodwith the only exception “Allowances and fees related to the effective performance of labor activity‘ (and God forbid), which lasts the entire election campaign and ends exactly two days before the election (when polling silence is in effect and political propaganda is not allowed).

We are not finished yet.

Campaigning typically lasts 30 days, but the “quiet period” in the military can be longer because once the employee notifies the bureau chief that he has officially accepted the candidacy, he is “exempted from any activity pending formal leave of absence, respecting the principle that those who are candidates may not perform any duties“.

In summary, a member of military or police bodies who chooses to stand as a candidate is entitled to a substantial paid rest period, which may be up to 45/50 days, including vacation, licenses, expectations or exemptions from the exercise of any Task ; an official enjoys three days’ paid leave and, if he so requests, a period of unpaid leave; a private worker is only entitled to unpaid leave.

Military lists: the real problem

So far, you will say, at best we are talking about a clear inequality between workers, nothing so scandalous. There are employment contracts with greater guarantees and benefits, special treatment for military candidates could be included in this category. The real problem lies in the combination of a similar rule with other mechanisms that are also somehow designed to provide guarantees and justice. Also in this case it is necessary to step back and give some contextual information.

Let’s take the case of local elections. Generally, In order to submit an electoral roll in support of a mayoral candidate, it is necessary to collect a certain number of signatures from that municipality’s eligible voters. The signatures must be certified and handed over to the municipal electoral office with very precise information on the modalities, responsibilities and deadlines. Basically, there needs to be a small group of citizens who support the submission of a list and a mayoral candidate to ensure there is no distortion of the voting instrument.

However, this regulation does not apply to municipalities with fewer than a thousand inhabitants. Indeed, in small towns, it is not necessary to collect signatures to submit an electoral roll.

Are you starting to connect things?

Right, it would be enough for a member of a military/police corps to seek elections in a community of fewer than a thousand people, agree with less than a dozen comrades to come up with a list for the above community, put the meager necessary paperwork and the game is over: he and all the candidates here have about forty days of vacation/vacation on full pay. To be clear, we are not referring to those who legitimately wish to stand in local elections in order to contribute to the administrative life of a community. We are talking, for example, of dozens of soldiers living and residing in Rome, presenting themselves with a list to administer Municipality XXX, a small village in inland Basilicata that they may not even have seen on postcards. It is a tried and tested mechanism, a kind of completely legal scam that increases with each electoral survey, counting hundreds of cases, with thousands of soldiers taking more than a month’s vacation at the expense of the Italian language thanks to this trick taxpayers.

Still don’t believe it? Let’s give some concrete examples. Arpaise, a small town in the province of Benevento with a population of about seven hundred: eight candidates for mayor competed, with eight lists and over seventy candidates, the vast majority of whom resided in other municipalities and belonged to a military or police corps; On average, there is one candidate for every nine residents and one for every five voters. Cairano, a municipality in the province of Avellino with 275 inhabitants: five lists, fifty candidates, one for every 5 inhabitants, one for every 3 electors. Salcito is a municipality in the province of Campobasso with 630 inhabitants: there are nine lists. TO Campochiaroalways in Molise, for 750 inhabitants there are eight lists with over 70 candidates. One of the more interesting cases is that of Maquis Valfortorea municipality in which 200 eligible voters cast their votes in the last political elections: there are seven lists, seventy candidates, an average of one for every 2.8 voters.

Why doesn’t anyone intervene?

The phenomenon of military lists is neither new nor recent. There are testimonies from some thirty years ago of really organized groups being able to systematically monitor which small towns were voting, submitting the lists and enjoying paid vacations week after week. The restrictions on this practice are essentially non-existent (there is a three-year ban from working in the same constituency you’re running for, but these are political and European elections, so appointments where it’s practically impossible to pull off the trick). Several mayors of small communities have attempted to raise the issue with the Ministry of the Interior, with no effective response. A number of citizens have reported to newspapers and media about the problem, which represents a total lack of respect for their small communities and a debasement of the democratic instrument, but without bringing about any change.

However, as we have explained to you in this study, the matter is not even limited to small towns. In fact, even in some communities of more than a thousand residents, it’s possible to track down Owl Lists, which are largely made up of military personnel. These are puppet lists, typically presented when there is only one candidate for mayor and whose sole purpose is to neutralize the quorum required for the election of the mayor. In the event that there is only one candidate for mayor, 50% + 1 of the eligible voters must vote for the election to be valid, which is not easy to achieve. A dozen soldiers, a puppet list, a bogus candidate, “kindly offered” signatories from whoever organizes the real candidate list, and it’s game over: no quorum required, election guaranteed.

But if this is the case (and it is), you may be wondering why no one is intervening. Well, there are several reasons. First, it would be technically impossible and undemocratic to impose restrictions on passive voters based on the “suspicion” that one or more citizens have no “genuine interest” in running for municipal council in an Italian municipality. In addition, no instruments are conceivable that limit the democratic participation of citizens because of their affiliation with a police force or the army (there are already rules disciplining their behavior and delimiting their field of action). In conclusion, the forecast of paid expectation for citizens contributing to the democratic life of their community is not conceptually wrong. If anything, it’s abuse.

The mechanisms of moral persuasion, appeals to responsibility, the hope that people will realize how much harm such attitudes and behaviors do remain. Months of vacation at the expense of Italian taxpayers is the least: What is really intolerable is the distortion of democratic mechanisms, an insult to all those citizens who devote time and resources to politics in small towns.

At Fanpage.it, I’ve been co-director and editor-in-chief of the policy section since the beginning. Currently in the Neapolitan section of the newspaper. I tell stories, discuss boring things and write about politics and communication. Without prejudices.

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