Italy government

Italy. The government crisis means uncertainty for the future of citizenship law

Over the past 20 years, several attempts have been made to reform Italian citizenship law, all of which have failed. Along with the end of Draghi’s government, the latest Italian political crisis has again put an end to such attempts.

Based on the so-called ius scholae model, the latest attempt introduced the possibility of granting Italian citizenship to foreign children who have regularly attended school in Italy for at least one school cycle for at least five years. This pathway would be available to children born in Italy to foreign parents legally present in the country, and to children who were not born in Italy but entered the country before the age of 12. Built around the two concepts of attenuated soil juice (which is highly contested by right-wing parties) and ius culturae (which shifts the focus of the residence towards the educational and cultural links of migrant children), this course proposal represented the final compromise between several proposals presented in 2019.

Most associations and networks of so-called “second generation” immigrants (which have strongly advocated for citizenship reform) have welcomed the final version of the proposal, while pointing out some of its shortcomings (see, for example, comments from the newborn second generation network ‘Rete per la riforma della cittadinanza‘). If adopted, the reform would have affected an estimated number of at least 280,000 children (other sources give higher estimates).

According to data collected by the Italian Ministry of Education and analyzed by CRC Group’s recent “Monitoring Report on the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child”, approximately 877,000 non-Italian students have enrolled in the school during the 2019/2020 school year. Between 2015 and 2020, the number of students of non-Italian nationality born in Italy rose from 478,000 to nearly 574,000 (+20% approximately).

The unexpected government crisis and the call for new elections to be held on September 25 this year have frozen all efforts to push for reform. However, the issue has not completely disappeared from public debate. For the first time, the idea of ius scholae on the basis of the final text of the reform was included in three of the four electoral manifestos presented by the main parties to participate in the September elections (Democratic Partythe centrist coalition, Azione and Italia Viva and Movimento Cinque Stelle.

In the (most likely) case of a victory for the far right, the chances of such a reform passing could be at their lowest. Unsurprisingly, however, the issue is less controversial in public opinion than it first appears: according to an ActionAid survey in June, 6 out of 10 respondents favor the ius scholae reform – a broad consensus front that transcends party affiliations. Italian politicians may not be ready to push for citizenship reform, but more than half the country – including citizens and non-citizens – would welcome it.