Loyal Opposition and Anti-system Parties: the Italian Case

Nowadays, several States face the increasing phenomenon of ‘abusive constitutionalism’, that is, quoting David Landau, ‘the use of the mechanisms of constitutional change—constitutional amendment and constitutional replacement—to undermine democracy’. Whether minority parties in legislative bodies are able to use democracy-protecting mechanisms against this threat or in order to strengthen this same threat has recently become a central question, even in some EU Member States. Therefore, the paper aims to reflect on the possibility that only a constructive and responsible opposition may be able to make democratic constitutionalism resistant to erosion from within. In order to analyse this possibility, the paper (a) presents solutions offered by the Italian Constitution which may prove effective against the threat of abusive constitutionalism, and (b) reflects on recent Italian political events and history which show that, under specific circumstances (future elections, economic and financial crises, pandemics), these same solutions have to face the danger represented by an anti-system opposition.