Senate of the Republic (Italy)

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Senate of the Republic
Senato della Repubblica
Coat of arms or logo
Type
Type
Leadership
President of the Senate
Pietro GrassoPD
since March 16, 2013
Structure
Seats 315 elected senators
+ 5 lifetime senators
Senate of Italy 2014.svg
Political groups

Government (175)

Opposition Parties (139)

Elections
Last election
24–25 February 2013
Meeting place
Aula senato.jpg
Palazzo Madama, Rome
Website
http://www.senato.it
Emblem of Italy.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Italy
Constitution
Foreign relations

The Senate of the Republic (Italian: Senato della Repubblica) is a house of the bicameral Italian Parliament. It was established in its current form on 8 May 1948, but previously existed during the Kingdom of Italy as Senato del Regno (Senate of the Kingdom), itself a continuation of the Senato Subalpino (Subalpine Senate) of Sardinia-Piedmont established on 8 May 1848. It sits in Palazzo Madama in Rome.

Composition[edit]

The Senate consists of 315 elected members, and as of 2014 five senators for life. The elected senators must be over 40 years of age, are elected by an electorate composed of Italian citizens aged 25 or over and, save for six senators who represent Italians living outside Italy, are elected on a regional basis. The senators for life are composed of former Presidents of the Italian Republic who hold office ex officio, and up to five citizens who are appointed by the president "for outstanding merits in the social, scientific, artistic or literary field".

The five current life senators are:[1]

The current Italian President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano (independent), was also a "life senator" before his election in 2006; but his membership of the Senate is suspended whilst in Presidential office. He was re-elected as President in April 2013, and assuming he does not resign from this post during his seven year legislative term or succeeds to get re-elected for a third term, then his senate membership will remain suspended until April 2020.

The Italian Senate is unusual among European upper houses in that it has the same power as its lower counterpart. Any law can be initiated in either house, and must be approved in the same form by both houses. Additionally, a Government must have the consent of both to remain in office (a position which is known as "perfect bicameralism").

The current term of office of the Senate is five years. Until a Constitutional change on February 9, 1963 the Senate was elected for six-year terms of office. The Senate may be dissolved before the expiration of its normal term by the President of the Republic (e.g. when no government can obtain a majority).

Membership[edit]

The current membership of the Italian Senate, following the latest political elections of 24 and 25 February 2013:

Coalition Party Seats
Pier Luigi Bersani:
Italy. Common Good
Democratic Party (PD) 111
Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) 7
South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) 2
Trentino Tyrolean Autonomist Party (PATT) 1
Union for Trentino (UPT) 1
The Megaphone – Crocetta List (IM-LC) 1
Total 123
Silvio Berlusconi:
Centre-right coalition
The People of Freedom (PdL) 98
Lega Nord (LN) 18
Great South (GS) 1
Total 117
Beppe Grillo: Five Star Movement (M5S) 54
Mario Monti: With Monti for Italy 19
Associative Movement Italians Abroad (MAIE) 1
Aosta Valley (VdA) Valdostan Union (UV) 1
Total 315
Popular vote (S)
IBC
  
31.6%
CDX
  
30.7%
M5S
  
23.8%
MONTI
  
9.1%
Others
  
5.4%
Distribution of the 315 parliamentary seats (S)
IBC
  
39.1%
CDX
  
37.1%
M5S
  
17.1%
MONTI
  
6.0%
Others
  
0.6%

Presidents[edit]

Under the current Constitution, the Senate must hold its first sitting no later than 20 days after a general election. That session, presided by the oldest senator, proceeds to elect the President of the Senate for the following parliamentary period. On the first two attempts at voting, an absolute majority of all senators is needed; if a third round is needed, a candidate can be elected by an absolute majority of the senators present and voting. If this third round fails to produce a winner, a final ballot is held between the two senators with the highest votes in the previous ballot. In the case of a tie, the elder senator is deemed the winner.

In addition to overseeing the business of the chamber, chairing and regulating debates, deciding whether motions and bills are admissible, representing the Senate, etc., the President of the Senate stands in for the President of the Republic when the latter is unable to perform the duties of the office. The current President of the Senate is Pietro Grasso.

Recent Presidents of the Italian Senate:

President From To Notes
9th Legislature
Francesco Cossiga 12 July 1983 24 June 1985 elected President of the Italian Republic
Amintore Fanfani 9 July 1985 17 April 1987 resigned once elected Prime Minister
Giovanni Malagodi 22 April 1987 1 July 1987
10th Legislature
Giovanni Spadolini 2 July 1987 22 April 1992
11th Legislature
Giovanni Spadolini 24 April 1992 14 April 1994
12th Legislature
Carlo Scognamiglio 16 April 1994 8 May 1996
13th Legislature
Nicola Mancino 9 May 1996 29 May 2001
14th Legislature
Marcello Pera 30 May 2001 27 April 2006
15th Legislature
Franco Marini 29 April 2006 28 April 2008
16th Legislature
Renato Schifani 29 April 2008 15 March 2013
17th Legislature
Piero Grasso 16 March 2013

Palazzo Madama[edit]

Palazzo Madama as it appeared in 17th century
Palazzo Madama today

Since 1871, the Senate has met in Palazzo Madama in Rome, an old patrician palace completed in 1505 for the Medici family. The palace takes its name from Madama Margherita of Austria, daughter of Charles V and wife of Alessandro de' Medici. After the extinction of the Medici, the palace was handed over to the House of Lorraine. and, later, it was sold to Papal Government.

Later, in 1755, Pope Benedict XIV (whose coat of arms still dominates the main entrance) ordered major restructuring, entrusting the work to Luigi Hostini. In the following years there were installed the court offices and police headquarters. In 1849, Pius IX moved the Ministries of Finances and of the Public Debt here, as well as the Papal Post Offices. After the conquest of Rome by the newly formed Kingdom of Italy, the palace was chosen to became the seat of the Senato del Regno (Senate of the Kingdom).

Cicero Denounces Catiline

Palazzo Madama and the adjacent buildings underwent further restructuring and adaptation in the first decades of the 20th century. A radical transformation which involved, among other things, the modernization of the hemicycle, the full remaking of the prospectus on Via San Salvatore and Via Dogana Vecchia, and the establishment of a connection with the adjacent Palazzo Carpegna. The latter, owned by the Senate, was entirely rebuilt in an advanced position compared to its original position. The small church of San Salvatore in Thermis, dating to the 6th century, which stood in the street to the left of the palace, was first closed, expropriated and later razed for security reasons.

The current façade was built in the mid-1650s by both Cigoli and Paolo Maruccelli. The latter added the ornate cornice and whimsical decorative urns on the roof. Among the rooms one of the most significant (and perhaps the most impressive from the political point of view) is the "Sala Maccari," which takes its name from Cesare Maccari, the artist who decorated it in 1880 and created the frescoes, among which stands out as one that depicts Cicero makes his indictment of Catiline, who listens, isolated from their seats.

The chamber where the Senate met for the first time on 27 November 1871 was designed by Luigi Gabet. A plaque on the wall behind the speaker's chair commemorates the king's address to Parliament when first convened in the new seat of government:

L'ITALIA È RESTITVITA A SE STESSA E A
ROMA • QVI E' DOVE NOI RICONOSCIAMO LA
PATRIA DEI NOSTRI PENSIERI; OGNI COSA
CI PARLA DI GRANDEZZA MA NEL TEMPO
STESSO OGNI COSA CI RICORDA I NOSTRI
DOVERI •
VITTORIO EMANVELE II
27 NOVEMBRE MDCCCLXXI

"Italy is restored to herself and to Rome... Here, where we recognise the fatherland of our thoughts, all things speak to us of greatness; but at the same time all things remind us of our duties..." - Victor Emmanuel II, 27 November 1871

Above this has been placed a plaque bearing the inscription:

IL 2 GIUGNO 1946
PER SUFFRAGIO DI POPOLO
A PRESIDIO DI PUBBLICHE LIBERTÀ
E A CERTEZZA DI PROGRESSO CIVILE
FU PROCLAMATA
LA REPUBBLICA ITALIANA
On 2 June 1946/ by popular suffrage/ in defence of public liberty/ and a certainty of civic progress/ was proclaimed/ the Italian Republic

To the viewers left stand the flags of the Italian Republic (with a ribbon embroidered with the words SENATO DELLA REPUBBLICA) and the European Union.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Berlusconi allies hit out over president’s lifetime senator snub". Financial Times. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 41°53′57.09″N 12°28′27.4″E / 41.8991917°N 12.474278°E / 41.8991917; 12.474278