PODCAST | Debate on the Italian Constitutional Referendum: Yes or No?

  • Date: Thursday 3 November, 6:30-8:00pm
  • Venue: Fisher Library

On December 4, 2016, Italy will hold a referendum. Italians must approve or reject a series of Constitutional changes aimed at reducing the size of the Italian Senate, simplify the Parliament legislative procedures, and improve the bureaucracy of the state. The outcome of the referendum might have critical repercussions on Italian politics, not unlike Brexit in the UK last July. The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi (like his former British counterpart, David Cameron), has staked his leadership on Italians voting “Yes”. Though in recent weeks Renzi has partially retracted his stance, a ‘No’ vote could still result in a leadership reshuffle or, worse, in a general election. 

With less than a month left, the outcome of the referendum is everything but certain. Italian media, the parties and the public are all significantly divided between the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps. Even within Renzi’s own party, the Democratic Party, which is proposing the reforms, there are doubts about whether these changes will have a positive impact on Italy’s political future. Due to the large diaspora community in Australia, many Italian-Australians will be eligible to vote in this referendum.

In the context of growing anti-establishment popular movements and national referendums throughout Europe, this debate will also explore the effects the Italian referendum might have on both domestic and European politics. The speakers will shed light on the significance and history of the Italian Constitution and explore in-depth both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ arguments for the proposed reform.


Dr Giovanni Navarria

gio_portrait-oct-2015-2-e1446095291815Dr Giovanni Navarria’s is a Lecturer and a Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. His academic background is primarily in politics and new communication media. He has a PhD from the University of Westminster and a Degree in Philosophy from the University of Catania. At the University of Sydney, where he teaches Postgraduate Units of Studies in the field of Public Opinion, New Media Public Relations, Politics and International Relations. Dr Navarria is currently working on two research projects: one on China and Democracy and one on Networked Politics.

As Associate of the Sydney Democracy Network (SDN), he convenes the network research seminars and co-edits an article series called Democracy Futures which is published by TheConversation.com. On The Conversation he also writes a regular column titled Networked Politics.


The Hon. Sen. Dr. Francesco Giacobbe, OAM

giacobbeFrancesco Giacobbe was born in Catania in 1958 and migrated to Australia at the end of 1982. He studied at the University of Technology, Sydney, where he completed a Bachelor of Business Degree with Distinction (1990), a Masters Degree in Accounting and Finance (1995) and a PhD in Accounting (in 2007), with a thesis on international joint ventures control systems.

Since 1991, he has worked as a tax and business consultant in Sydney and as a Senior Lecturer in Management Accounting at the University of Technology, Sydney.

He has published numerous papers, essays and reports, attended as a guest speaker many international conferences and received several academic awards including the University Medal at the University of Technology Sydney in 1991 and the “Peter Brownell Manuscript Award” for the best article published in 2004 by the journal Accounting and Finance.

Since his arrival in Australia, Dr Giacobbe has been involved in social and community activities, holding numerous positions and roles and promoting many events. For his contribution to the community, Francesco has received many awards and recognitions including the Medal to the Order of Australia Merit (OAM) in 2013 and the title of “Commendatore” of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2008.

In 2013, he was elected to the Italian parliament as a Senator of the Republic with the Democratic Party. In the Senate, Dr Giacobbe is part of the Finance and Treasury Committee, the Industry, Trade and Tourism Committee and the Committee for Italians Abroad.

In his parliamentary role, Senator Giacobbe has contributed to a number of activities, in particular, to promote Italy in the world and for Italians abroad. Amongst these, two are worth noting. The first is a firm commitment to the Italian language and culture as the first vehicle for the promotion of the Made in Italy in the world and as a fundamental link between Italy and Italians in the world. The second is the project of the order of the Council of Italian Accountants on “Small and Medium Enterprises and foreign markets: the road show of accountants for internationalization.”


Mr. Matteo Preabianca

matteo-preabianca1Matteo is the Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S – ‘Five Star Movement’) Councillor on the CGIE (Consiglio Generale degli Italiani all’Estero), a body which represents the interests of Italians abroad to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome. He is a member of the CGIE Commission for Political and Civil Rights and Participation. In addition to his political activities, he is a linguist, online education expert and PhD candidate in Education at the University of Oviedo (Spain). He is originally from Milan, and is now based in Brisbane.