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  • Writer's pictureBeyond the Canvas

On Italian National Day, 02/06/2022

On 11 June 1946, the Italian people voted in an institutional referendum to replace the monarchy with a republic. I won't lie, it was closer than I like to think, but they did it: 12,672,767 votes for the Republic vs 10,688,305 for the Monarchy. Importantly, this was also the first time that women voted at national level. As the journalist Anna Garofalo recalls: "The ballots that arrived at home inviting us to do our duty had a silent and peremptory authority. We turned them over in our hands and they seemed more precious to us than a piece of bread. We held the ballots as if they were love letters."

On the 1st of January 1948, the new Constitution of the Italian Republic came into force. Its 1st article reads: "Italy is a democratic Republic founded on labour. Sovereignty belongs to the people and is exercised by the people in the forms and within the limits of the Constitution." Italy was one of the founding countries of the EEC (European Economic Community) in 1957 and of the European Union in 1991.

Italians are famously not very patriotic, I guess the country's shambolic politics have a lot to answer for, and we much prefer waving our flags at football matches. But it's on days like these, where elsewhere not too far they are spending millions of taxpayers' money to celebrate a stale bubble of privilege that is both obsolete and obscene, that you realise how deeply you are, and always will be, connected to your country of birth.

Giacomo Balla

Bandiere all’Altare della Patria, 1915

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