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The Statuto Albertino or ''Albertine Statute'' was the constitution that King Charles Albert I conceded to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia in Italy on 4 March 1848. The Statuto later became the constitution of the unified Kingdom of Italy and remained in force, with changes, until 1948.
Background and Contents
The Statuto was proclaimed only because of concern at the revolutionary insurrection then agitating Italy. Charles Albert was only following the example of other Italian rulers, but it was the only constitution to survive the repression that followed the First War of Independence (1848–1849). The Statuto remained the basis of the legal system even after Italian unification was achieved in 1861 and the Kingdom of Sardinia became the Kingdom of Italy. Even though it suffered deep modifications, especially during the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini (who, however, ruled with the tacit approval of King Victor Emmanuel III), it was never formally abrogated until Italy became a republic in 1948.
In its original version it instituted a Parliament composed of the Senate of the Kingdom entirely nominated by the king and an elected House of Deputies. The King retained extensive powers, as shown in Article 5:
The King alone has executive power. He is the supreme head of the state, commands all the armed forces by sea and land, declares war, makes treaties of peace, of alliance, of commerce, but giving notice of them to the two Houses as far as national interest permit. Treaties which demand any financial burden, or which would alter territoral boundaries of the state, shall not have any effect until the two Houses have consented to them.
The King also appointed the ministers of state, who were solely responsible to him. With time, it became virtually impossible for a Cabinet to stay in office (let alone govern) against the express will of Parliament. As a result, notwithstanding the letter of the ''Statuto,'' it became a well-established convention that ministers were responsible to Parliament. In fact, this convention was so strongly established that in 1925, Mussolini had to pass a law which specifically stated that he was not responsible to Parliament.
Other provisions of note included: Roman Catholicism was the state religion (art. 1); succession to the throne followed the Salic Law (art. 2); Italian was the official language, but French-speaking deputies might use their own language (art. 62).