Whilst scanning the news, as I do, I noticed that Italian Values IDV party leader and staunch opponent of Silvio Berlusconi, Antonio Di Pietro has placed a bill before Italy’s parliament which would ban practising lawyers, such as Berlusconi attorneys Ghedini and Longo from taking up seats in Italy’s parliament.
Not a bad idea as there is certainly something iffy about a prime minister’s defence lawyers having seats in parliament. Even more iffy is that these defence lawyers/parliamentarians can also work on introducing laws which may be able to protect their premier client. This is something which has been covered on Italy Chronicles before, here: Berlusconi’s Lawyers: Niccolò Ghedini and Piero Longo
Di Pietro obviously thinks these lawyer/parliamentarians are a little iffy too.
In Italy’s lower house alone there are some 90 parliamentarians who ‘moonlight’ as practising lawyers, or vice versa. How they manage to find the time to run a country and manage client instructions is anyone’s guess.
Anyway, if Di Pietro’s pet proposal ever does become law, Italy will be advertising for a good few new members of parliament. However, the chances of this proposal for a law actually becoming law are minimal.
For a start, the 90 existing lawyers/parliamentarians in Italy’s lower house are unlikely to vote in favour of a law which will remove them from their lucrative seats in parliament.
Not only would Di Pietro like to exclude practising lawyers from Italy’s parliament, he’d also like to see members of other recognised and regulated professions banned from taking up seats in parliament – unless they cease practising.
Aside from a prime minister’s defence lawyers also being MPs, it is also possible for working architects to be MPs in Italy and for them to continue to work for their private clients. It is possible that certain clients may be prepared to offer bribes to certain politicians in return for preferential treatment when they tout for some public works project or other. Corruption seems more or less inevitable.
Berlusconi will undoubtedly ensure his party faithful vote against Di Pietro’s radical proposal, as with his long list of legal woes, having his defence team in parliament must be advantageous for Italy’s prime minister.
Whilst potentially good for democracy in Italy, Di Pietro is living in fairyland if he thinks now is the right time to propose such a law.
Read more about Di Pietro’s bill here, in Italian: Norma Di Pietro: “Niente avvocati o professionisti in Parlamento” Di Pietro Norm – No Lawyers or Professionals in Parliament – in Italian.