There’s a harsh discussion in between local municipalities and the Italian central government ongoing since a few weeks, but that may grow more in the next few months.
Historical reason, like at Dante’s time
First a little bit of background. Majors, or sindaci, can be very much influential in Italy. This is due to multiple reasons, among which the fact Italian unification arrived very late compared to other countries (1861). Somehow Italians still identify their selves more on the local cities (comuni) rather than the in the voice of the entire nation, so different by region an often hard to identify with. Who has been in Italy, knows how difficult to find a common denominator of identity that can be share across the entire nation.
The national association of comuni has a strong political power and allow the multitude of different majors to have one single voice at national level. Quite often the local municipalities have had attrition with the local government. Often when it comes to apply locally the directives coming from Rome . Given how close the municipalities are to the life of the citizens, they have strong social aspects.
2 laws on one territory, hard to implement
It has been the case in the past when municipalities were asked to register same sex marriage, with for example the ones rules by far right parties to push back and try to put hurdles on the way. Recently the debate is instead related to migrants and the possibilities of municipalities to welcome or not migrants.
The line of the central government, constantly repeated by vice-deputy Salvini is of zero tolerance and zero welcome. This very often justified with the fact that in the recent years Italy has done (as per minister words) too much and enough and it’s now time for other countries to welcome migrants coming from Africa or Asia.
Propaganda or real deal?
This approach, which we won’t debate here, and that the goal to stop the growth of migrant population in Italy, has created though issues not only for incoming migrants, whose boats aren’t anymore allowed to stop in Italian docks, but also for the ones who are already in the Italian territory. In some cases for example, due to the new laws being recently pushed by Rome, would not allow to host migrants in facilities, making them basically complete homeless.
Majors of the most important italian cities, with Palermo in the lead, and strong supports from Naples, Bari, Parma, Milan and Florence among others, are rejecting this approach, claiming that it will attack the basic human rights and therefore outlaw.
It’s unclear on whether this will mean a real action by these majors against the law, in order to continue guarantee human rights to migrants, or the central government will need to use the strong ones and look for the (very remote) option to fire those majors (democratically elected). Salvini has already shown his options in the past months against the major of a small center, Riace, which was supporting actively the welcome of migrants.
If those arguments and positions won’t be followed by direct and concrete actions, will still be evaluated by the voters in the European elections in March.