Author: Giovanna Spanò – University of Florence
In the past fifty years, Italy has experienced several waves of radicalization. The political strand concerns right wing, leftist, and anarchist terrorism; others relate to separatist movements and radical ecologies. Nevertheless, there is no national plan addressing radicalization or extremisms in a broader sense though some (unofficial) good practices have developed in prison settings, such as religious counselling, psychological support and other activities preventing inmates from alienation and marginalization that prison environments may exacerbate. Moreover, states’ response to (de)radicalization has mostly been repressive, relying on criminal law – though mitigated by the principles of social solidarity and human dignity as typical features of a pluralist constitutional state. The institutional actors involved in deradicalization are the same as those working in the counterterrorism networks and their responses are harnessed by a coordinated activity among intelligence, the armed forces and the Courts. A substantive role is played by the third sector and NGOs as well. They often work at an unofficial level in support of the public institutions, owing to the lack of a formal legal framework to rely on for their activities.
Additionally, the Italian state is conceived as one but it strongly promotes regions and local autonomy as well as linguistic minorities and cultural particularisms through the principles of decentralization and a cooperative regionalism. Since both the State and its Regions hold the same general legislative authority, their interaction should be coordinated taking into account the overlapping powers they are vested with. Actually, the abovementioned decentralised structure of the state brought forth asymmetries regarding viable strategies to de-radicalization, since regional autonomy often leads to extremely diversified actions at the subnational and even at local levels.
Although a draft bill providing detailed and comprehensive regulations on the main issues related to radicalization(s) was introduced in 2017, it has never been approved. Thus, the Italian legal framework still does not devote any specific legislation to address the topic, rather consisting of a plethora of provisions enacted in connection with precise political agenda, characterised by an emergency structure coupled with a repressive pattern. These features are confirmed by the progressive introduction of new criminal law provisions, related to 9/11 and to lone actors’ activities occurred throughout Europe since 2014 onwards.
Furthermore, in Italy, the mainstream narratives on radicalism massively focus on the religious pattern, especially on jihadism. This circumstance is also confirmed by the concern over a firm control on proselytism, which became the privileged lens for de-radicalization strategies as well. On the contrary, the varieties of political extremism seem undermined in comparison with the religious one. The forces of political extremism are strengthening their public profile through polarisation of the political debate and the creation of anti-establishment ideologies able to address specific sources of grievance such as unemployment issues and social cleavages. Thus, right-wing extremism and national supremacism seem to be the main phenomena requiring monitoring in the current Italian scenario in addition to the spread of misleading fake news and grievances against the government management of Covid-19 pandemic.
The current Italian situation still allows a case-by-case approach based on different kinds of “emergency”. Indeed, the creation of an official institutional network addressing all the facets of radicalizations is highly recommended as well as a structured legislative framework specifically addressed to the topic.
For more insights, see the REPORT >>, that provides a conceptual account on existing policies and laws addressing radicalisation, to pinpoint their most critical aspects and best practices, and to develop evidence-based policy and guidelines.
 For an insight on the topic, see D.Rad D3.1 and D3.2, https://dradproject.com/?publications=stakeholders-of-de-radicalisation-in-italy;https://dradproject.com/?publications=trends-of-radicalisation-in-italy.