Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Republic Day June 2nd 2011

Re-instituted a decade ago, Republic Day - observed on June 2nd - commemorates establishment of the Italian Republic by popular referendum on June 2nd 1946. Held under Allied auspices during the Anglo-American occupation of Italy, this event marked the first time Italian women could vote. Though sanctioned (confirmed) by a high court, the referendum results were questionable, and not only because of the vote-rigging in many quarters. To abolish the monarchy required more than 50% of the total ballots cast in favor of a republic. In fact, there were 12,717,923 votes counted in favor of a republic, and 10,718,284 in favor of the monarchy. If, however, the 1,509,735 blank ballots were counted into the total, the republic would have obtained 47% of the vote, not the 50% plus 1 required by established law.

The existence of the Italian Republic is beyond question, but this year, as Italians celebrate 150 years of unification, it's important to remember that today's Italy is a successor state to the Kingdom of Italy ruled by the House of Savoy until 1946. It is not the same nation state that was established by a far more dubious referendum 150 years ago - in which the Savoys were confirmed by an incredible 99% of the voting population.

Historical nuance of this kind escapes most Italians, who will simply enjoy an extra holiday.

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