Interview with Davide Drei, Councilor for Welfare of the Municipality of Forlì, on the modification of the regulations of the municipal council of foreign citizens and stateless persons.
"Precisely because the identity, the knowledge of the council and the incisiveness of its role has been so limited in the last few years, I have decided to bring about modifications". Davide Drei, Councilor for Welfare of the Municipality of Forlì was the main supporter of the new regulation of the Council of foreign citizens approved by the City Council on 24 last January. But before sending the text of the regulation to the council committee, in the 2010 it has also launched a consultation process with migrant associations to share its contents and receive their proposals. And the associations, as foreseen by the new regulation, will be an integral part of the Consulta. In fact, its Council will be composed of 20 members elected by universal suffrage by foreign citizens and 10 by the associations appointed by the Municipality. A shared choice precisely because the associations have "an important role not only in representation but also in operations, because they are subjects working on the issues of inclusion and social integration". Another novelty introduced by the regulation amendment is the Immigration Forum. Twice a year the Consulta will meet the institutions and the economic and social associations of the territory. "It is a way to discuss a wide range of issues on which there is a need to work," says Councilor Drei. "Take stock of the situation and work on new ideas and new projects". On the other hand, having also accepted the indications of the municipal council in the course of the change, it helped the approval in the classroom. It was a vote almost unanimously, had it not been for the abstention of the two directors of the Northern League present in the courtroom. Instead with regard to the right to vote, the first to have to engage in this battle should be foreign citizens. And in the case of Forlì, even if it is a matter for the national legislator, the municipal administration would be willing to collect the reminders that can come from the Council of foreign citizens. From the 1997, the year of the election of the first Council of foreign citizens, the city of Forlì is preparing to welcome the fourth. A review of the first three councils.
I have a vision of the first three councils not as a councilor, and as a person who has followed their vicissitudes as a citizen and social worker, I would say that it is a great intuition of a moment of real participation for foreigners who had a good start in the 1997. It was an experience participated by the associations and by many Italian citizens who saw in it an instrument that brought foreigners closer to an idea of citizenship. And so I think it was a nice workshop of participation, and also of integration, because we have to keep in mind that a consultation is made up of many diversities that are sometimes more different from each other than for some nationalities the cultural history and relations between Italy and other countries. Surely the history of the consultation has institutionalized a non-institutional body, made it known first and foremost to the city's politics, because its representatives sit on the municipal council. He gave the voice to immigrant citizens because in any case his President and his Vice President can express themselves on the contents in the Municipal Council. Then, he created a participatory work within the organisms of the council that was very much supported in the first phase by the services, the secretariat and the spaces. A very important job for starting a participation process. What were the limits of the first three experiences?
The limits were those, however, of having ranged over everything, having to come to terms with the time and the human resources that are there. I remember that the consultation did its meetings, participated in the municipal council, the council commissions and the work of the circumscriptions. Therefore, it has become such a broad commitment, often even on very broad urban issues, not directly linked to immigration. I believe that there is also a bit of dispersion from which the great difficulty in having to manage the consultation experience. I believe that they were also problems that were also found in the subsequent experiences of the consult. Some changes have been made to the structure of the consultation over the years, but we must also see how the last experience of the Consulta is an experience, I would say, also disappointing in terms of awareness of foreigners of this instrument of participation. So, just because in any case the identity, the knowledge of the consultation and the incisiveness of its role has been so limited in the last few years, I have decided to make changes. The new consultation will present itself with a new look to the city. Was it necessary?
I believe it was necessary. Because it was necessary to give a new impulse both in some aspects of the regulation and in the desire of the associations of foreigners to have an instrument of that type. So, I started a series of meetings in the 2010 that involved these associations to read the limits and the critical points of the previous consultations and to identify some news that we shared, and then we brought to the vote and renewed in the Municipal Council. The first major change seems to have included migrants' associations within the consultation.
In fact, the journey with the associations was not only of consultation but also of openness to their role. They will be an integral part of the next consultation that will continue to have an elected member, but will also have a section with their representatives. We think that associations play an important role not only in representation but also in operations, because they are subjects who work on the themes of inclusion and social integration, they carry out a liaison activity between people of different nationalities. They are also subjects of responsibility and therefore it was right in a perspective of application of the principle of subsidiarity, to have them within the Consulta. I would say that it is the main innovation of the changes made to the regulation.
Involving the associations in the Consulta, it is recognized that migrant associations are characterized by structural difficulties and that they must be supported, otherwise their path within the Consulta could become counterproductive.
Sure. We support this associationism which is also a form of freedom. Because in any case it is in the free initiative of foreign citizens to join associations. So we would try to exploit those that are not closed in themselves, but that have the desire to dialogue with citizens, other associations and institutions, because we would like to create a permanent network of associations and the Consulta seems to us a privileged place where to have them in permanent dialogue. The question was more about their organizational problems. However, migrant associations are characterized by a weak organization, there are no offices or funds. There are a whole series of problems that could prevent even greater involvement in the Consulta.
From this point of view, we must put them in the resolution of the problems of the associations in general, because we do not even want to create branches for Italian associations and those for migrant associations. There are already tools and possibilities that are given to associations and can be used to find solutions to the problems that are highlighted. The Consulta will still be a place where you can explain them.Another emblematic novelty, actually in effect by the 2
009, is that among the voters were also included EU citizens who did not vote in previous consultations. Because this choice was made since they can still vote even in municipal elections.
It has not been a long time since there is the possibility for EU citizens to vote in municipal elections. However, it is a possibility, but if we look at how many people have voted so far, it is really a minimum percentage compared to the presence on the territory, also because it was planned among the EU countries, even before the enlargement of the Union to some European countries Europe. Therefore, it was in fact a very little possibility, but today the citizens of the new members of the Union, in particular from Romania, make up the largest community among foreign citizens in Forlì. As far as the Consulta is concerned, the possibility also certainly increases for EU citizens to be inside it. But we have not intervened on the subject of the community: we have left the previous one in force. Instead, we intervened on another aspect: we excluded the possibility of being able to actively participate or vote the consultation to those who obtained Italian citizenship. In reality, today the consult is for us the consultant of EU or non-EU foreign citizens who do not enjoy all the rights of Italian citizens. The only right that EU citizens have over non-EU citizens is the right to vote in the administrative. However, will they have the chance to vote both in the council and in municipal elections?
Sure. However, there is a procedure that is not automatic. One must make the request to be registered on the voting lists. I remember that of the many Romanian citizens present in Forlì voted for 0,000%. It seems then that in the end it is an unused right, while we need to have inside the consultation experiences of communitarians that however have very similar problems to the non-community. A French or English does not come to Forlì due to serious economic situations in their own country. The same cannot be said for those who arrived from Romania. It is a fact that in the last local elections they did not go to vote, also because the political parties did not involve them. In the end, politics must also do its part.
Absolutely yes. He must do it. I believe that we should promote this possibility and if in fact we would have communitarians who express their representatives within the administrative structures, I believe we should make new choices. Probably at that point the Consulta will become only non-EU citizens.Another novelty is that of the Immigration Forum. Over the years there has been talk and there have been different forms of collaboration between multiple actors but in this way it is institutionalized.
We foresee at least two moments a year in which the whole Consulta meets the institutions, the economic and social associations of the territory in a Forum convened. We need to have the Foreign Citizens' Council meet with the city and vice versa that the city meets the Consulta. It is a way to discuss wide-ranging topics on which there is a need to work. Otherwise, the risk is however that one has a body that dialogues with the municipal administration, but has few moments of contact with the rest of the city. Therefore it is necessary twice a year to take stock of the situation, work on new ideas and new projects, and also have a cultural exchange between representatives of foreign citizens in Forlì and local institutions, economic and associative realities and the trade union world.Is it an attempt with the intention of involving migrant citizens in policies that affect them personally? In this way, they will be able to have a local voice on these policies, as already happens to a lesser extent in the area plans.
Absolutely. Let's say that it is a form that is intertwined with the central programming of the zone plans. Instead, a historical novelty is that the city council has very well accepted the modification of this regulation. 32 votes in favor of majority and opposition, two abstention votes by the League and no votes against.It is a great result, no doubt. I believe this consensus is the result of two factors. On the one hand, the level of participation that we have guaranteed in drawing up this new statute has been recognized. On the other hand, the city council itself was involved. Your indications in the council committee have been implemented. So there is a kind of reciprocity between the City Council and the Council that we have defined a bit as the "parlamentino" of foreigners. For example, if the President and Vice President of the Consulta will be invited permanently to the City Council, in the Commission we have decided that the same is also valid for the President and the Vice President of the Municipal Council who will be invited permanently to the Consulta. As well as the commission that will evaluate the candidates expressed by the associations, it will be a representative body of the municipal council. I believe that all this has been understood not only as an action of immigration policies but as an action of participatory democracy.
In his word during the discussion of the resolution on the regulation in the Council, he wanted to underline that the consultation is the instrument of dialogue for excellence of those who are Forlivese without Italian citizenship. Was it also an appeal to remind political forces that this is a useful tool also to prepare them for the possibility of granting the right to administrative vote?
I think so, but this is not decided locally, it is part of national legislation. However, I believe that a concept of cultural nature also starts, that is, the forms of participation and the right to vote are also forms of responsibility. Voting is a right, but it also generates duties. And so we put this in a path that calls for legislation that goes towards an administrative voting right. This is our little piece. Forlì has always been a bit in the forefront in promoting initiatives of this type. We must not be afraid of participation and the right to vote because we must also interpret the right to vote as a responsibility that we assume.
Already in the 2001 Forlì, in the modification of its municipal statute it also introduced the right to vote with regard to the elections of the district councils. Then in the 2004, the City Council decided to suspend its applicability for self-protection, given the government's opposition. How much do you plan to resume this battle?
I believe this is one of the battles that we must not carry forward directly as an administration, but which we must collect if it becomes a battle of the Consulta. In other words, the first to have to pose the theme of this battle, should be foreign citizens. At this point an intention to go in this direction will certainly be collected by the municipal administration. I can't say the times because we have to do the consultation first. Given that this is an administration of the Democratic Party in coalition with the Italy of values, in the last national assembly of the PD it was decided that all the circles and local administrations governed by the PD will carry on the battle of the right to administrative vote as well to provide for the active participation of foreign citizens born in It
alia. is a debate that has been going on for years, isn't it time to end it?
I understand that seeing from outside is a debate that goes on. But rightly we have just arrived as an administration and we inherit it now. But everyone has to do their bit. I worked on the instruments of participation as an administration and I would like the consultation to work on the issue of the right to vote. A different thing even if extremely connected is the role of the majority that supports this junta starting from the Democratic Party. Foreign nationals should urge him to collect those who have made his national bodies. Because then the administration also moves with respect to such requests. For example, in a year and a half of the legislature, no agendas or initiatives have been presented that solicit an administrative voting right from the PD. We must, how to say, urge the PD to probably do this part, but then it is necessary that at this moment everyone holds his roles. We are the administration that obviously has every interest in collecting such stimuli. But in that context the proposal was made by the PD.
As far as the right to vote is concerned, a reform is still needed and therefore to have a law approved. How do you manage to dull it?
This happens all at the national level. From the bottom you can send reminders and stimuli, but it is a purely national matter. Today we must also take into account the situation of national politics that does not seem very attentive to these issues. He does not see in government a political party that has been particularly interested in these issues, perhaps it was more hostile because I remember that it is a government supported by the PDL and the Northern League. There was a member of the PDL who made openings. I refer to Fini and his group which at this time is no longer part of the PDL. How to succeed in unlocking foreign citizens and actually getting them involved in local politics. It is not that the participation of the natives is far superior, but in this case there is a need for greater involvement?
I believe that there is a work of cultural and educational nature, if it is not connected with the elements of cultural participation, but that there is also something to show what is at stake. So if the stakes are worth it, it will be much easier to have a stake. It also depends on whether or not what you are doing has sustainable goals and concrete results.
Participation and sharing of policies at the territorial level seems to be a battle that also concerns Italian citizens.
Sure. If participation is responsibility, it is a vision of citizenship. If citizenship is also a responsibility, it means that every citizen will also have the responsibility of others who are Italian or foreign.
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