L.A.: Ius Soli, the law modifying the methods for acquiring citizenship in Italy, meets many resistances. The migrant exodus to Italy and Europe makes certainly the legislative measure in question unpopular, because it arouses fears and distrust, even legitimate, but that are often instrumentally magnified by those who intend to take electoral advantages of similar issues, which is why it is seen
its run aground in parliament. But is it acceptable that a telling question of civil justice can undergo such conditioning? How is it possible to explain that welcome and integration can coexist with security?
C.K.: Not having voted for the citizenship reform law was a very serious mistake for this term. Not just for a matter of social justice, with this law in fact, discriminations which today create first and second-class citizens would be settled, but also for a question of long-term vision on the future of our society. In fact, this reform was not some form of charity towards the children of immigration, but took rather seriously in consideration two elements that are increasingly pressing for our society: the consolidated decline of the demographic curve and the investment of the State in a generation numerically more and more relevant of children of immigration. This reform gave answer to this kind of considerations. Because, it is true, the current law does not preclude the citizenship to these young people, but makes it a purely bureaucratic issue, which comes after a series of bureaucratic obstacles, faced in years when a young person builds his own identity. The reform wanted to create a path. To give value to the meaning of citizenship. To accompany these young people on their path in Italy, helping to consolidate their identity as Italians. Countless falsehoods have been told about this law. Young people, boys and girls, have been for months at the center of a fierce debate once again. Children mistaken for terrorists and criminals. Yet, and this is an error often committed even by supporters of this reform, the three great themes today we face in relation to immigration, reception, integration and security, are three major political issues, related, but distinct from each other. The reform of citizenship, for example, is a fact of integration. Social integration. It has nothing to do with security, nor with reception.
L.A.: It is undeniable that a right-wing wind is blowing in Europe. The recent elections in Austria are witness to this, together with the displacement of the electorate towards the extreme wings of the xenophobic right, a common phenomenon throughout Europe. The economic crisis has certainly contributed to this conservative rebirth. But in what, in your opinion, the EU policy and in particular the progressive European left has failed?
C.K.: There is no doubt that there is an ongoing process of “orbanization” of moderate rights throughout Europe. A term that I get from the Hungarian premier, Viktor Orbàn, who laid down what I consider the seed for the rebirth of authoritarianism in Europe, through persecution and unilateral amendment of the constitution. In itself, extremist political groups in Europe have achieved important victories, but, in numbers, they have so far represented a share that we can relegate to the protest vote. What I consider rather dangerous is the transformation, in fact, of the great families of the moderate right in Europe. A transformation of which the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurx has become a symbol. Today’s slogan for the right is to contain the far-right, paradoxically sharing some populist, reactionary and security aspects. A path that I consider very dangerous and that Europe has already undertaken in the past. It did not end well. The European Union has some responsibilities. Indeed, more than the EU, the Member States have the main responsibilities for this wave of Eurosceptic authoritarianism. The reason lies in the resistance by the States in surrendering sovereignty over issues that can be effectively dealt with only thanks to the strength of a “country” of over half a billion people and a GDP in the first place in the world. Challenges such as employment, growth, immigration and international security are challenges that, in a globalized world, must be tackled on a global level and there is no doubt that on that level only a united Europe, speaking with one voice, is able to play a leading role.
The return to nationalism would only mark the first step for our inexorable decline on the world stage, both on the political and economic level. In the current political context, I believe that the progressive family is the one that has paid more dearly the economic crisis. In a sense, we have sinned by lack of audacity in questioning the current world economic model, while the sense of institutional responsibility has led us to share difficult choices, in some way contrary to the very values of a reformist left. However, the future has yet to be written. Let’s start from that social pillar that, after Brexit, has returned to being at the center of the European debate. A pillar that will allow the Union to recover its own humanity and closeness to its citizens, rediscovering its own humanity and solidarity.
L.A.: Let’s look at Spain. The Catalan vexed question today is rekindled together with a growing demand for autonomy in various regions of Europe. Even in Italy we have had consultative referendums in the North, and in Sicily itself we traditionally have a strong push for autonomy. Is such a secessionist unrest, in your opinion, related to economic issues only, or is it due to the democratic deficit of today’s representative systems and thus the disconnect between policy and actual reality?
C.K.: Globalization has undoubtedly created a democratic deficit. The reaction is the rebirth of nationalisms at all levels. The claim is political: in the face of phenomena to which citizens have lost direct control, the field of action is narrowed to recover a perception of control, which, however, will never happen. As I said, the only way to cope with global challenges is to give global responses. The alternative would be to succumb in the international context. The separatist and autonomist referendums are reactions that are completely in line with the historical period we are going through. However, they are based on incorrect assumptions, on a basic lie produced by populism: the illusion of being able to recover sovereignty over their own political choices. Politics is solidarity. If today we accept that a richer Region get more, politically and economically, compared to a poorer Region, tomorrow we could apply the same principle to contexts of an increasingly reduced size, until, taking the reasoning to the extreme, to take a step back more than a century and to vote for wealth. Requesting to have greater administrative autonomy is not wrong. On the contrary, it is precisely in the direction of containing the deficit of democracy that globalization has entailed. Autonomy, however, does not mean independence. If today we can say that the State Nation form is obsolete, and has been made even more so by the consolidation of the European Union, even the historical reasons of contemporary separatism are equally obsolete.
L.A.: Last year Tina Anselmi, the first woman minister in Italy, passed away. The debate about the presence of women in politics is always current, considered that the conquest of the right to vote for women dates back only to the last century. The political under-representation of women is a global problem. The percentage world average of female members in national legislatures only stops at the 19%. What does this representation deficit mean in your opinion? How can Europe intervene to increase the presence of women in political institutions?
C.K.: I keep repeating it all the time: the woman is one of the main engines of development of a country. Not implementing policies capable of favoring women’s self-determination means renouncing an important piece of our society. Europe can do a lot, in terms of identifying the common minimum parameters of equality gender. The right to paternity, for example. In this case, guaranteeing an equal right and duty towards man regarding the leave for the birth of the children, brings the two genders closer together in a moment that is extremely delicate in the professional life of a woman: motherhood. Establish rules and actions able to fill the shameful wage gap between men and women. A gap that according to the Global Gender Gap Report 2017, if it will continue without hindrance in the coming years, it will need 217 years to be filled. Then there is the question of representation. Today we use and propose a quota system that guarantees gender balance in leadership roles. A system that I consider temporary, but necessary to trigger a cultural revolution. Until the next generations of women grow up without examples and models of female leadership to be imitated, this cultural revolution will not happen. So the quotas for women are welcome: both in politics, as in the private sector and in the same boards of directors.
L.A.: Precarious vessels overflowing with men, women and children crossing the Mediterranean looking for a safe harbor where to start over, and again lifeless bodies on the beaches are the tragic images that more and more often burst into our homes. The search for peace and rights crosses the Mediterranean Sea and too often there is suffocated. The NGOs have been the sentinels of the Mediterranean and have played a very important humanitarian role in dealing with this emergency. Do you think that Europe has done enough to control the migratory wave coming from the countries of North Africa? Are you agree with the measures provided for by the Minniti minister’s code?
C.K.: The flaw lies in the assumption. The term control recall a containment policy. An action that takes place in front of a phenomenon that is suffered. Rather, managing the migration phenomenon means actively acting, implementing medium and long-term policies, following a global and holistic approach that takes into account reception, integration and the root causes of forced migration. The movements of peoples have always characterized the history of humanity. The phenomenon of immigration is unstoppable. Any policy of containment, of control, in fact, is in the position of failing from the start. It is rather necessary to ensure, first of all, that migration is a voluntary and legal act, thus acting on the causes that push people to leave their homes for war, hunger and persecution. Once the phenomenon becomes a voluntary act, it is a matter of managing it, to ensure that the system is able to implement those measures aimed at making the processes of reception and integration effective. If these two phases of the process are managed with success, any migrant becomes a resource, an active member of society, producing positive effects that can be reflected on all of us. Many young people today claim their right to travel, to emigrate, to identify their place in the world. A right that I believe must be protected, both for a young European and for a young person coming from the African continent, provided that this is a choice. In the opposite case, our commitment must be aimed at eliminating the causes of this constraint, without forgetting, today, the values that require us to welcome those who flee and to always protect life. Europe has done a lot in these years. The European Commission and Parliament have taken emergency and structural measures to cope with the flow of migrants from North Africa. He did it promptly, making sure that what for a country is an emergency, becomes a phenomenon of easy management if faced jointly by all EU member states. However, the resistance of national governments has put numerous obstacles to the proposed measures. Measures based on solidarity and fair sharing of responsibilities between states. Europe is the answer, but when our governments give it the opportunity to be. Italy has tried to cope with the phenomenon of landings through a code of conduct proposed to the NGOs by the Government. In my opinion, the NGOs have done a hero job. They have filled a deep value gap left by politics: protecting life. A code of conduct does not change the rules. There is only a border on what civil society can or can not do. The border is legality. The overwhelming majority of NGOs have done their work within these boundaries and it is certainly not a code of conduct to establish new boundaries. To date, the landings have been reduced, but, demonstrating that the flow of migrants is unstoppable, new migratory routes have been reactivated, while the deaths at sea, unfortunately, have not ceased.