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Regions Of Italy
The Regions of Italy are the first-level administrative divisions of the state. There are twenty regions, five of them are constitutionally given a broader amount of autonomy granted by special statutes.
Originally meant as administrative districts of the central state, the regions acquired a significant level of autonomy following a constitutional reform in 2001. A further federalist reform was proposed by the regionalist party Lega Nord and in 2005, the centre-right government led by Silvio Berlusconi proposed a new reform of the Constitution that would have entailed greatly increasing the powers of all regions. In June 2006 the proposals, which had been particularly associated with the Lega Nord, and seen by some as leading the way to a federal state, were rejected in a referendum by 61.7% to 38.3%.
[[http://www.repubblica.it/speciale/2006/referendum/ Repubblica.it, Outcome of the referendum]] The results varied considerably from one region to another, ranging to 55.3% in favour in Veneto to 82% against in Calabria.
Every region has a statute that serves as a regional constitution, determining the form of government and the fundamental principles of the organization and the functioning of the region, as prescribed by the ''Constitution of Italy'' (Article 123). Fifteen regions have ordinary statutes and five have special statutes.
Regions with ordinary statute
These regions, whose statutes are approved by their regional councils, were created in 1970, even though the Italian Constitution dates back to 1947. Since the constitutional reform of 2001 they have had legislative as well as administrative powers. ''The regions have exclusive legislative power with respect to any matters not expressly reserved to state law'' (Article 117).. Yet their financial autonomy is quite modest: they just keep 20% of all levied taxes.
[Report RAI - Le regioni a statuto speciale (Italian), retrieved 21st Jan 2009 [http://www.report.rai.it/R2_popup_articolofoglia/0,7246,243%255E90034,00.html], [http://www.report.rai.it/R2_popup_articolofoglia/0,7246,243%255E90114,00.html]]
Autonomous regions with special statute
Article 116 of the ''Italian Constitution'' grants to five regions (namely Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Aosta Valley and Friuli-Venezia Giulia) home rule, acknowledging their powers in relation to legislation, administration and finance. They keep between 60% (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) and 100% (Sicily) of all levied taxes.
In return they have to finance the health-care system, the school system and most public infrastructures by themselves. Sicily and Sardinia get additional resources from the Italian state in order to finance all services.
These regions became autonomous in order to take into account linguistic and cultural differences, such as the linguistic minorities in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Aosta Valley, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, or geographic isolation in the case of the two greater islands, Sicily and Sardinia. Moreover the government wanted to prevent their secession from Italy after the end of the Second World War.
Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol constitutes a special case. The region itself is nearly powerless and the powers granted by the region's statute are mostly exercised by the two autonomous provinces within the region, Trento and Bolzano-Bozen. In this case, the regional institution plays a merely coordinating role.
List of Regions
Italy is subdivided into 20 regions (''regioni'', singular ''regione''). The five autonomous regions are in italics.
Each region has an elected parliament, called ''Consiglio Regionale'' (Regional Council) or ''Assemblea Regionale'' (Regional Assembly) in Sicily, and a government called ''Giunta Regionale'' (Regional Junta), headed by the regional President. The latter is directly elected by the citizens of each region, with the exceptions of Aosta Valley and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, where he is chosen by the Regional Council.
According to the electoral law of 1995, the winning coalition of receives the absolute majority of the Council's seats. The President chairs the Junta, nominates and dismisses its members, called ''assessori''. If the direct-elected President resigns, new elections are immediately called.
In Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, the Regional Council is composed by the joint session of the two Provincial Councils of Trento and Bolzano-Bozen and the Regional President is one of the two Provincial Presidents.