Trying to Change Italy’s Citizenship Laws
Parliamentary elections, held in February 2013, brought for the first time in Italian history the appointment of a black minister. Cecile Kyenge, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, takes on a new portfolio for racial integration. She is one of two naturalised Italians in the government, both elected for the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
Since her appointment, the minister has been a victim of repeated xenophobic and racist hate speech, especially from representatives of the right-wing political party the Northern League. This brought the expulsion of Mario Borghezio, a representative from the right-wing and openly racist party Lega Nord, from the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Democracy group at the European Parliament,.
On the other hand, many welcomed her appointment as a way forward to an open discussion on integration policies. Alongside this, the Milan football club player Mario Balotelli called her appointment “a further, big step towards a more civilised and responsible Italian society”. Kyenge said her top priorities included changing Italy’s citizenship laws, which are based on descent rather than place of birth.
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