Four weeks ago, the City Council of Forlì approved the changes to the regulation of the Council of foreign citizens. We went to talk to the council leaders to get their opinion.
A unique and purposeful position is that of the City Council of Forlì with regard to the next Consult of foreign citizens of the city of Aurelio Saffi. The 24 last January approved the modification of its regulation with the 32 votes in favor of majority and opposition, the abstention of the two councilors of the League present in the hall and no vote against. Certainly it can benefit the relationships between the two organs that will have to interact in the future. That will happen often and on various levels. The President and the Vice President of the Consulta can participate with speaking rights at the meetings of the Municipal Council and designate them to represent the work of the council commissions. A right also enjoyed during the previous mandates, but which can take on a different relevance in light of the good intentions and the expectations expressed by the councilors during the discussion of the resolution in the classroom. For its part, the City Council will also be represented at meetings of the Council of the Council by its President and Vice President. Instead, the Conference of group leaders together with the councilor of reference will choose the 10 representatives of the associations of migrant citizens who will sit on the Council of the Consulta next to the 20 elected by universal suffrage. It will be because the Council is a form of social representation that has not affected politics over the years, it will be because it is an instrument of dialogue and participation without excessive burdens, it will be because as such it is not part of the territorial policies that count as welfare and services, but the debate in the council was very constructive and without excessive conflicts. Also the eighteenth-century trompe-l'oeil frescoes of the Sala dei Fasti were complicit, it seemed to be the mad hatter to wonderland and it was difficult to distinguish the majority and opposition councilors from their interventions. An expected result
But the result is also due to the comparison and the sharing of the regulation changes in the council committee and to the implementation of the proposals put forward by the political forces. As the leader of the council of the PD, Marcello Rosetti, argues, the theme of the Consulta "has not become the subject of speculation between right and left" because it is a tool "that serves the community to live better". And the Forlì one "is also made by forlivesi who have different origins". Taking note of the position of the center-right in the council, Rosetti, head of 22 members on 40, also recalls how "the exit of some councilors from the classroom has allowed for a peaceful debate". But the expression of voting, according to the leader of the board of the IdV, Federico Balestra, is also due to the context of the city where "integration is ahead of other realities". Alessandro Rondoni, independent mayoral candidate for the 2009 elections, supported by the center-right parties and today coordinator of the opposition council groups, says that "a sharing was done". Not only that, but it would have urged the establishment of the representation of foreign citizens that has been missing for two years and usually the six months following the establishment of the City Council are elected. The group leader of the nine councilors of the PDL, Angelo Sampieri, added that "I have also asked how many funds have been allocated for this operation, because it does not help the council by making declarations of intent without providing funds". "Integration unfortunately also requires this effort on our part". Instead, the abstention of the Northern League demonstrates the fact that this party has no prejudices and preconceptions towards foreigners. This is stated by Francesco Aprigliano, leader of the three directors of the Northern League. "We wanted to give confidence to this new regulation - says Aprigliano - even if in the past the Consulta had political references of the extreme left in some way, and it was an unacceptable fact". For the first time since the second post-war period, the left-wing parties are no longer part of the municipal council. Which can mean in this case: when the tooth is removed, the pain is removed.
Talking about the role and objectives of the consultation also means expressing the expectations towards it. Similar but with different nuances the opinions of the group leaders on the future consultation. "It is a place to give participation to those who in fact cannot do so through voting," says Rosetti of the PD. In reality they will sit in the Consulta "also EU citizens who can nonetheless exercise the right to vote by requesting it". In the last municipal elections they participated with minimum percentages. "And it is a pity because in this council still that voice is not heard". On the other hand, it shows in a sense that "they do not feel the community so close and do not feel the interest in participating in the life and civic debate of the city". So, there is a lot of work to do and "we need to understand how the resident can actually feel like a protagonist of the life of the city to the end". And the Consulta can commit itself to this aspect, obviously remaining also "a tool of dialogue and comparison on the themes of integration". Words also shared by Balestra of the IdV that dwells on the "decisive role of the consultation in the management of the relations of the city with the various communities". It would not be a beginning of a path because the next one will be the fourth Consulta, but it will be able to continue to commit itself "in the direction of integration between the various communities", even if there is a risk that it "serves no purpose", considering that "The last Consult that has not achieved great results". So if "the goals succeed, they are to the benefit of everyone". "The culture of the meeting", instead, is at the center of Rondoni's opinion on the future of the Consulta. "There must be willingness on the part of everyone". "It is right that there is this form of listening and of bringing an instance". As are "the attention paid by the public administration" and "the responsibility that the parties must demonstrate". And it would be desirable for the City to incentivize and recognize the autonomy of this body, so that the message that "foreigners are those close to the majority political force" does not pass. However there would be a problem of the ability of the Consulta "to be representative of the most of foreign realities, which are many, maybe they do not talk to each other and have different needs". Hence also the importance of the representation of foreigners in "knowing how to monitor, represent and dialogue the various communities". For Sampieri of PDL, "the consultation is a tool that must help both us and you to arrive at a civil and friendly life as possible". But cohabitation requires that "there is all this predisposition, that there is no racism and contrast. However, one must be able to follow customs and habits because integration passes through them ”. All in all the opinion of the Parent Company of the two councilors of the UDC, Gabriele Gugnoni: "is a fundamental element of our city, first of all, of collaboration with the institutions".
The League is to judge on the facts "both the behavior of the council and the participation of foreign communities within the city". According to Aprigliano, "if the Consulta is a way to make us understand what social aspects we must measure in the city, we will see all this well. But if it serves to strengthen opinions that we do not share we cannot fail to oppose it. "
The representatives of the majority and the opposition are essentially on the same line as regards the relations that can be established between the City Council and the next Council of foreign citizens. "It is extremely important that the two parties are able not only to speak but also to collaborate," says Balestra, also pointing out the point on which politics must spend the most: "we must decide that those who live in the territory have common rules. We must respect them all and we can all feel the same way in the same city. We must arrive with all the differences that are there because these must be an enrichment ”.
Rondoni thinks that it will be possible to have correct and institutional relationships and certainly it would be nice to address certain topics as well as to make a city council open to foreign citizens on topics dear to them. Sampieri is also effective. We should find "common bases of collaboration, intentions and addresses because there are your needs, our needs and common needs". On the basis of these it could be that there are ways to manage them in a more appropriate manner.
Gugnoni of the UDC is very happy that the representatives of the Council will be able to continue to participate in the sessions of the municipal council, because even if they do not represent the will of the voters, the voice of foreign citizens is heard. "It is an act of civilization and democracy that must be maintained". Aprigliano della Lega expects a qualitative leap in terms of dialectics: "we are open and willing to discuss and obviously we will put us to the test". "Let's see what you are capable of doing, how capable you are of engaging us, of making us think and share a path that you might find interesting even for yourself in the purposes of the League." The right to vote
The Consulta is a consultative and participatory body and even if it has limited powers it is the only opportunity for foreign citizens to participate in political life and exercise the right to vote in electing the 2 / 3 of its members. And obviously the opinions of the councilors diverge when it comes to the granting of the right to administrative vote, substantially reflecting the positions of their parties at the national level. For Rosetti the debate on the right to administrative vote "is a false problem that someone politically exploits and has done a battle with, but in reality it would be relatively simple to solve. So it is "a sacrosanct right for residents" because those who grow up, work in a community and contribute to their life, must also be able to exercise their active and passive electorate. However, "it would not have an impact, it is simply a path" because the question of participation always remains and of "feeling completely the citizen of that community".
The IDV and the UDC are also in favor of the law. "When we can get to the point that foreign citizens residing in Forlì will be able to vote, it means that we would have taken a step forward towards a more evolved society." As it no longer makes sense, citizenship based only on the ius sanguinis. The IDV is convinced that "living, working, starting a family in a particular context that can be that of Forlì, basically means being part of the community, being part of society and feeling fundamentally Italian". Also Gugnoni is absolutely in agreement on the right to vote "enough that they have five years of residence in the territory". "The UDC tradition is a democratic Christian tradition for which it has no kind of foreclosure, even if there is respect for the rules".
Instead Rondoni and Sampieri refer the matter to the national legislator. But for Rondoni, at the local level "a path is made of legality and a discourse of participation that a foreign citizen is allowed through the consultation". The same Rondoni in the 2009 was a candidate "to encourage participation", earning a historic ballot in one of the strongholds of the left. Thanks to the experience of the "Rondo point", his information point still active from the electoral campaign, he met more citizens and foreign families than anyone in the streets, enriching themselves with their stories. And he reiterates his position on immigration and integration. "Welcome and respect" is his slogan for immigration. "Respect for legality and people". Instead, integrating into the territory means "work, home, rights and duties". But at the same time, knowing the territory and history and "giving attention to customs, customs, laws, culture". And it is also a cultural and political path of "complete integration" for those who will have Italian citizenship in the future. The fact that during the visit of the President of the Republic Giorgio Napoletano the 8 last January, there were no foreign citizens to welcome him in Piazza Saffi, it shows how difficult the path is.
The League is strongly opposed. "We will implement the parliamentary tools available to counter this left-wing vision". And even if they have lived in the area for several years and contribute economically, socially and culturally. Because "a community that represents the 10% of the entire population contributes to the 10%" and it would be obvious that "it cannot expect to have the 50% of the services that are supplied by the municipal administration". So even if foreigners through the Consulta show that they know how to participate and share, they don't talk about it. "We are clearly opposed and this idea will not make us change anyone." "Not even the best foreigner in this world". "Confronting each other does not mean giving up everything they ask". And Aprigliano asks a question to all foreign citizens of today that "in thirty years they will probably all be Italian citizens": "Would they agree if they were bypassed in their rights by foreign citizens as soon as they entered the national territory?" And if "should they find themselves in the unpleasant situation of having to choose priorities? Who do we give the house today? And with what criterion? I think you would certainly come to the position of the League ".
The consult, a political body
The new consultation risks becoming the target of politics and citizens. On the one hand, political forces expect greater consultation, awareness-raising, sharing and convergence of values and positions from different communities through consultation. But there are some details to consider. Within the consultation and everywhere, the many cultural differences do not count as much as the political ones, which are few but often opposed or alternative and on which representative democracies are also based. Despite the consultation is a consultative body, already the fact that the President and the Vice President will sit in the City Council, it also becomes political. In the meetings of the Council of the Consulta, its members in speaking and defending their positions, regardless of cultural affiliation, basically make politics. And therefore it is easier for them to find themselves in party positions starting from integration and immigration policies. On the other hand, citizens of foreign origin could have immediate needs other than the opportunity offered by the Consulta. His task is quite delicate even before the elections: on what basis and on what intentions will the candidate want to call the citizens to the polls? Instead he will have to continue to explain to citizens what his role actually is, identifying some transcendental communication strategy. And to have a greater impact on the junta and the city council, basically it will have to do politics again. Assuming that inside it you find a shared position, if it is farsighted it will be able to join forces with political forces according to its priorities. However, its incidence will always be limited because it remains an expression of non-citizens. Those that don't count. And the only effective deterrent to affect politics is the vote. Always. At least in representative democracies.
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