Senate of the Republic (Italy)
|Senate of the Republic
Senato della Repubblica
President of the Senate
|Seats||315 elected senators
+ 5 lifetime senators
Opposition Parties (136)
|24–25 February 2013|
|Palazzo Madama, Rome|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
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.
The Senate consists of 315 elected members, and as of 2014[update] 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:
- Of law as former President of the Republic:
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi (independent, member of the Mixed Group)
- One economist (who served as Prime Minister in 2011-13):
Mario Monti (SC)
- One Pritzker Prize-winning architect:
Renzo Piano (independent, member of the Mixed Group)
- One Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist and inventor:
Carlo Rubbia (independent, member of SVP-UV-PATT-UPT-PSI-MAIE)
- One academic (the third female lifetime senator in Italian history):
Elena Cattaneo (independent, member of SVP-UV-PATT-UPT-PSI-MAIE)
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).
The current membership of the Italian Senate, following the latest political elections of 24 and 25 February 2013:
|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|
|The People of Freedom (PdL)||98|
|Lega Nord (LN)||18|
|Great South (GS)||1|
|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|
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:
|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|
|Giovanni Spadolini||2 July 1987||22 April 1992|
|Giovanni Spadolini||24 April 1992||14 April 1994|
|Carlo Scognamiglio||16 April 1994||8 May 1996|
|Nicola Mancino||9 May 1996||29 May 2001|
|Marcello Pera||30 May 2001||27 April 2006|
|Franco Marini||29 April 2006||28 April 2008|
|Renato Schifani||29 April 2008||15 March 2013|
|Piero Grasso||16 March 2013|
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).
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
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
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
- "Berlusconi allies hit out over president’s lifetime senator snub". Financial Times. 30 August 2013. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
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