Parties, associations ask for direct representation of Sardinia in European Parliament

Sardinia and Sicily make up one single constituency · Sicily's demographic clout usually works against Sardinian candidates · Several proposals want a Sardinian-only constituency in Europe · Pro-independence Michela Murgia announces Possible Sardinia not to run in European election

Up to five parallel initiatives are asking for changes in the Italian electoral law, so that Sardinia could have its own direct representation to the European Parliament. Three proposals are headed by MPs in the Italian Parliament, while the other two are led by Sardinian associations. Their aim is common: at least one out of 73 Italian MEPs should be elected in a Sardinian constituency.

Initiatives point to the same problem: Sardinia and Sicily make up one single European constituency. This means that Sicilian and Sardinian voters must vote for the same lists. But while Sardinia has a population of 1.6 million, Sicily has 5. This, Sardinian parties and organizations argue, implies that Sicilian candidates outweigh Sardinian ones. And thus, too often all MEPs from the Sicilian-Sardinian constituency are from Sicily.

Sardinian MPs are proposing to amended an Italian 1979 electoral law: "Splitting the constituency would assign, according to the populations' weight, 2 seats to Sardinia and 6 seats to Sicily", Democratic Party (PD) MP Francesco Sanna says. Last August, Sanna submitted a proposal to amend the law. Since then, the Italian Parliament has not yet decided. Sanna considers that, if necessary, the Italian Government should itself promote it and give it "priority on the parliamentary agenda" so that the new settlement could be implemented for next May's European election. Other similar proposals have come from MPs Pierpaolo Vargiu (Sardinian Reformists) and Roberto Cotti (5 Stars Movement). At the moment, none of them has succeeded.

Proposals by associations

Apart from those proposals by MPs, during the last few days two other initiatives by civil society organizations have been unveiled. Nino Carrus Association has launched an online petition addressed to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Sardinian MPs which also wants the common constituency to be split into two new constituencies: Sardinia and Sicily. "This amendment could be passed by the Italian Parliament in a very short time", the petition argues. This could ensure at least one Sardinian MEP be elected in May.

Meanwhile, the Association for the Protection of the Rights of the Sardinians has appealed to the courts (a decision must be made by April 11th) so that the Sardinian people, as an officially recognized minority, is entitled to have its own MEP. This proposal is supported by several Sardinian parties, including the Rossomori, the Sardinian Action Party and Unidos, among others. According to its promoters, a 1999 Italian law that allows to set aside a quota representation for minorities has never been applied. The group says that thanks to this law, "50,000 votes would be enough for a Sardinian to be elected to the European Parliament". The Italian electoral law also provides that any list not reaching at least 4% of votes Italy-wide will not be taken into consideration for seat distribution.Thus, even if Sardinia had its own constituency, candidates who wanted to have a real chance to be elected should run within a wider, Italian coalition, in order to overcome that threshold.

Michela Murgia not to run for the European election

Last month election to the autonomous Sardinian Parliament showed the relative strength of pro-sovereignty Sardinian parties, which altogether got 18% of the votes (up from 9% in 2009). Due to the electoral law, pro-sovereignty Possible Sardinia coalition got no seat, even though its candidate Michela Murgia had more than 10% of the votes. Other pro-sovereignty parties did make it into the Parliament: Independence Republic of Sardinia leader Gavino Sale was elected, as were four other members of sovereignist parties Rossomori and Party of Sardinians. All three parties had run as a part of a wider coalition, led by Italian Democratic Party (PD). The PD is opposed to independence but, following many contradictions in Italian politics, it accepted to include pro-sovereignty parties into its coalition. Moreover, the Sardinian Action Party, running with an Italian center-right coalition, also won two seats.

It is still unknown if and how Sardinian parties will run for the European election. Gavino Sale is now asking for the establishment of a center-left sovereignist coalition, but not necessarily for May's election. The landscape of Sardinian parties for many years has been marked by lack of cohesion, fragmentation and lack of coordination. Meanwhile, Michela Murgia has now announced that Possible Sardinia will not run in the European election: the coalition wants to focus on Sardinia itself. Other parties, given the 4% threshold, could try to be included into one of few Italian-wide coalitions, which are always headed by the main Italian parties.