1902 Encyclopedia > Italy > Political Administration

(Part 23)


Political Administration

The constitution of the kingdom of Italy is based upon that presented to the Sardinians by King Charles Albert, 4th March 1848. The crown is hereditary in the male line of the house of Savoy. The king—whose majority is attained at, the olose of his eighteenth year—cannot exercise his legislative functions except in agreement with the voice of the national parliament, and on his accession to the throne he is bound to take an oath in the presence of both chambers that he will obey the constitution. By the law of 17th March 1861 his title is "by God's grace and through the will of the nation king of Italy." His executive functions are exercised by means of responsible ministers, nine in number—(1) the minister of foreign affairs, (2) of the interior, (3) of public instruction, (4) of finance and the treasury, (5) of war, (6) of marine, (7) of grace, justice, and worship, (8) of public works, (9) of agriculture, industry, and commerce. These departments are to all intents the same as those which under slightly different designations existed in the kingdom of Sardinia in 1860, just before the title of king of Italy was assumed by Victor Emmanuel. The ministry of agriculture, however, which was instituted by Cavour in July of that year, was abolished in 1878, but it was restored in 1879. A permanent hydrographic commission was instituted in 1866, a council of meteorology in 1876, and an independent board of statistics (Direzione delta Statistical) in 1878. There was a meteorological department in connexion with the ministry of agriculture as early as 1865, and a statistical department as early as 1861.

The Italian parliament consists of two houses or chambers—a senate and a chamber of deputies. The senate consists of the princes of the royal family (who are admitted to the sittings at the age of twenty-one, but cannot vote till they have completed their twenty-fifth year) and an unlimited number of persons, forty years of age or upwards, chosen by the king from the ranks of the archbishops andbishops, ministers of thecrown and high administrative functionaries, admirals and generals, members of the provincial councils and of the Turin academy, persons who have rendered special services to their country, or who for three years have paid 3000 lire of direct taxation. Since the removal to Rome the parliament is accommodated in the palace at Monte Citorio. Neither senators nor deputies are paid for their services, but they have the right to a free pass over the whole railway system of the country. All measures must be carried by an absolute majority, or one half of the members and one. The parliamentary oath does not contain the name of God ; the member simply says, " I swear to be faithful to the king and loyally to observe the statutes and laws of the land." According to the law there must be a new election every five years ; the actual duration of parliaments, however, has hitherto been on an average two and a half.
The registered electors for 1879 amounted to 627,838, out of a population estimated at 28,437,091, or 2.21 percent.; inotherwords, Italy has 7.77 electors in every 100 males above twenty-one years of age. The highest proportions were in Porto Maurizio 5.06 per cent., Genoa 3.63, Leghorn 3.67, and Alessandria 3'32 per cent. The lowest of all was Syracuse 0.07 per cent. Thirty-five provinces besides those mentioned had upwards of 2 per cent., and all the rest had upwards of 1 and less than 2. Of the total electorate 489,044 had their place on the roll through the payment of not less than 40 lire of direct Government taxes and provincial "super-imposts"; 5922 in virtue of the value of their factories, workshops, or warehouses ; 1412 as sea-captains or employers of at least 30 operatives ; 1502 as holders of Government stock of the annual worth of 600 lire ; 2934 in virtue of the amount of their house-rent,—making an aggregate of 15,158 whose right was due to their wealth. On the other hand there were 550 members of scientific academies, chambers of commerce, and directors of agrarian commissions ; 5631 professors, ex-professors, and teachers in the higher institutions ; 43,045 functionaries and employes, civil and military ; 1452 persons decorated with the national orders of knighthood ; 33,936 holders of university degrees (laureati); 27,522 solicitors, accountants, geometricians, chemists, &c.; 870 money agents and brokers,—making a total of 112,906 whose right depended on education and social influence.

According to the law of 1860, in force in 1880, there are 508 electoral colleges, or as they would be called in England parliamentary constituencies, the largest of which are the third college of Palermo with 84,767 inhabitants, and the third of Turin with 76,654, and the smallest S. Sepolcro with 30,463, and Benevento with 25,460.

The following table (XLI.) indicates the chief statistics of the eight elections which have taken place in Italy. They are interesting as showing an increase of political activity among the people. As is well known, the watchword of the ultramontane party has been "neither electors nor elected"; their abstention helps partly to explain the small percentage of the electors who have voted.

== TABLE ==


463-1 Author of La Riforma penitenziaria in Italia, and founder of the Rivista di disciplina carceraria.

463-2 An electoral map of Italy and a valuable analysis of the distribution of parties in 1880 will be found in Arch. di Stat., 1880, fasc. iii.

463-3 Without the Venetian provinces, Mantua, and Rome.

463-4 Without the province of Rome.

Read the rest of this article:
Italy - Table of Contents

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-21 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries