BM85: Democracy is at risk in Italy, even within HEIs
We observe with concern a compression of the democratic spaces in Italy that is embarking on a new phase in a process that we consider 30 years old.
Italy has gone from being one of the European states with one of the highest rates of electoral participation and wide participation in political parties, trade unions and civic associations to seeing a collective shrinking of popular participation in collective moments.
The participation rate in general elections has dropped from 86.07 percent in the 1994 elections to 63.91 percent in the 2022 elections, highlighting a feeling of detachment from politics that is impressive.
We believe that one of the roots of the problem is a policy of compression of democratic spaces at the lowest levels, including those in HEIs.
In this regard, it should be noted how today this compression affects both institutionalised representation and the student movement more generally. Especially in the last 3 years, as a result of the pandemic, we are verifying throughout Italy a tightening on the rules for the organisation of debates and initiatives in HEIs on topics deemed sensitive, pertaining to international issues, workplace conflicts, xenophobia, repression, abortion, queerphobia.
Increasingly, we are receiving reports about unwritten and unjustified bans by the Rectors, who exercise their power as if they are absolute authorities within the Universities, with respect to motions proposed by the Student Councils and to the discussion of events on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the reality of the Permanent Centers for Repatriation (CPR) of migrant persons.
We also want to denounce the use of police repression against the student movement. This is not a new phenomenon: in fact, savage beatings by the police of protesting students for a wide variety of reasons have been taking place for years.The latest reports concern the cases at the University of Florence (November 21, 2023), the University of Turin (which occurred several times in the last 3 years), and the numerous cases of police violence inside La Sapienza University in Rome (which occurred between 2022 and 2023).
The fact that needs to be pointed out is the complicity of academic institutions with these events, which in each case are informed of and complicit in police violence, which cannot intervene within university campuses without authorization from the Rector. In all these cases, we should also acknowledge that the government never condemned these repressions.
As Unione degli Universitari and European Students’ Union, we demand greater guarantees for freedom of speech and expression on and off university campuses, greater guarantees for student representation, the government to condemn the repressions and an end to the presence of police on campuses.
Seconders: ANOSR, FEF, ÖH, NSO, FEF, LÍS