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Berlusconi Is Ineligible


In an article in Sole-24 Ore of Sunday 26 May 2013 (Ineleggibilità e Democrazia dei Partiti: Le ragioni legali che i saggi non svelano) Giuliano Amato adds his voice to those such as Valerio Onida, Luciano Violante, and now no less than the new leader of the PD, Gugliemo Epifani, who oppose the notion of Silvio Berlusconi's non-elegibility to Parliament, alleged by many on the ground of his conflict of interest as beneficiary of economically significant TV concessions by the State.
The eminent jurist and statesman rejects the argument used by others that, since the relevant legislation has not been invoked for twenty years, it cannot begin to be applied now. It would be like arguing, he writes, that, if a serial killer has not been condemned for his first six murders, he should be acquitted once he is caught for his seventh murder. The trouble, Amato argues, is that the Electoral law of 1957, which is still in force, is not as clear-cut as the law on murder. That law declares ineligible, among others, "those who on their own account [in proprio] or as legal representatives of companies or enterprises are involved with the State by concessions or administrative authorisations of considerable economic significance [in qualità di rappresentanti legali di società o di imprese risultino vincolati con lo Stato per concessioni o autorizzazioni amministrative di notevole entità economica]...". Berlusconi, argues Amato - as has Valerio Onida, a former President of the Constitutional Court and one of Napolitano's "wise Men" - is neither the legal representative of such a company, nor a direct concessionary, even though he is the uncontested main shareholder, the "boss, l`ideatore e il regista". According to the Italian Constitution, norms that limit any rights cannot be interpreted extensively, for in that case the hostility towards laws ad personam would be replaced by a peculiar predilection for interpretations ad personam. Therefore, Amato concludes, Parliament was right in applying , on purely legal and not on political grounds, a literal interpretation of the law. If main shareholders of concessionary companies were intended to be ineligible an amendment to that effect should have been approved beforehand; many such amendments were presented over the years but, for better or worse, were never approved.
Amato explains that in his approach he is giving voice to his own "jurist's soul". By the same token, let me voice my own "economist's soul" on this matter.

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