The Italian Almanac


Italian News - April 8

Italian-Australians are being given the chance to have their say when Italy goes to the polls this weekend. For the first time, Italians living abroad are able to vote in the election without having to return to Italy to cast a ballot. The Italian vote taking place on Sunday and Monday is shaping up as close run battle, which could increase the importance of the overseas postal ballot.

Roberto Mengoni, a diplomat with the Italian embassy in Canberra, said Italians living abroad were being given the chance to lodge a postal vote in a general election for the first time. Provisional figures in Australia indicate nearly 40,000 of 95,000 eligible voters have decided to have a say in the election.

Some 3.5 million overseas Italians have been able to vote for 18 special representatives - 12 MPs and six senators. The constituencies are split along regional lines, with Australia grouped in with Africa and Asia. That electorate is voting for one MP and one senator, who are most likely to come from Australia, given its large Italian population.

"Australia is in a very strong position because it has the biggest Italian community in the Asian region," Mr Mengoni said. South Africa, with a significant Italian population, is seen as an outside chance of getting up a candidate. Seven candidates for the lower house and 10 candidates in the Senate are vying for the positions for the Australian region.

To be eligible to vote for the special representatives for overseas Italians, voters have to be Italian by citizenship but live abroad.