Italy: Regional elections, false signatures and the mass violation of data protection as right wing conflict spirals out of control


An ongoing conflict within the Italian right between Alessandra Mussolini and her erstwhile party colleagues from Alleanza Nazionale (AN) resulted in the temporary exclusion of the electoral list of her party Alternativa Sociale (AS) from the regional election in the Lazio region, before it was finally readmitted by the Consiglio di Stato (State Council), a court before which decisions taken by regional administrative courts can be appealed. The exclusion was a result of the submission of false signatures among those required for the party to run in the election. The governor of the Lazio regional council Francesco Storace (AN) announced on 12 March 2005 that Mussolini's party would not be allowed to run, following a ruling by the Rome Court of Appeal after the candidature had been appealed by acandidate from Storace's party. AS's electoral platform for last year's European elections was established in coalition with two other far-right parties, Roberto Fiore's Forza Nuova (FN) and Adriano Tilgher's Fronte Sociale Nazionale, and was also joined by Luca Romagnoli's Movimento Sociale Fiamma Tricolore for the coming regional elections. Polls have suggested that the list could win up to 5% of votes, and the run-up to the election had seen attempts by Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, to reach an agreement with Mussolini, an approach that was forcefully opposed by AN. The decision to exclude Mussolini's list was followed by an appeal submitted to the Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale (TAR, regional administrative court), and by a hunger strike by Mussolini, who claimed that it was a "non-violent initiative for civil and political rights". On 18 March, the TAR ruled in favour of upholding the exclusion of AS from the regional election because the regular conduct of the elections "would be seriously undermined in the light of the irregularities that have been ascertained" by the regional administration, some of which were not denied in the appeal filed by AS. Eventually, the list was re-admitted on 23 March after a successful appeal against the exclusion to the Consiglio di Stato, which ruled that the false signatures an were not "ascertained in the ways established by the law". Nonetheless, there have been suggestions that an appeal following the election could result in its annulment as a result of the fraudulent participation of AS, whose exponents argue that the fraudulent submission of signatures is widespread in Italian politics. Fraudulent practices were also found in the collection of signatures for AS to run in the elections in the Milan province, from which it was excluded after the 2,800 signatures submitted in Milan were reportedly found to have been fraudulent by the Digos (the carabinieri's special operations unit). The short-lived exclusion of AS in Lazio led to a string of initiatives against electoral lists accused of contravening legislation on the presentation of signatures in support, including an appeal by the Verdi - il sole che ride (left-wing Greens) against the Verdi ecologisti (Environmental Greens, who support Storace) which may lead to the exclusion of the latter group from the regional elections.

Illegal searches of city council personal records database

The scandal developed into an institutional clash between the centre-left run Rome city council and the Lazio regional council, because it surfaced that workers from the regional council had unduly accessed the records of the anagrafe (the office which runs the register of residents, as well as issuing identity cards and storing related personal records in its database) in Rome. The Italian data protection ombudsman's authority has reportedly started an investigation into the incident. The Rome city council reported that the IT system of the Rome anagrafe was "repeatedly violated" by the company Laziomatica, "a legal subject which is an expression of the Lazio regional council"* and is authorised to access the town council archives excl

 

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