Italians are among the most active participants of European Citizens Initiatives (ECIs). Yet when it comes to national referendums or petitions there are fluctuating levels of involvement because these instruments are often perceived to be ineffective. And not without reason. Citizens’ legislative initiatives have rarely been converted into national laws and, according to the Italian Constitution, Italy’s obligations under international and EU treaties cannot be changed by public consultation anyway. Unlike the ECIs, which are thought to be an effective direct democratic instrument, the poor success rates of national direct democratic instruments have resulted in the latter being used more to protest against the government and the status quo than to influence the legislative process.
Contribution to the first of three volumes produced in the framework of the project 'Towards a Citizens’ Union' and is the product of collaboration with 20 think tanks from the European Policy Institutes Network (EPIN).