induced by the current crisis of the Italian government this post examines the open data of the Chamber of Deputies to understand part of the political context in which the crisis broke out.
exploring Italian Chamber of Deputies
The Chamber of Deputies is a component of the Italian Parliament which also includes the Senate of the Republic, both of which are equal in functions and powers. Parliament passes legislation, directs and monitors government activities, investigates matters of public concern, and grants and revokes trust in the government. Sitting in joint session, the Parliament also elects the President of the Republic, some judges of the Constitutional Court as well as members of the Superior Council of the Judiciary.
This post explores the composition, organization and activity of the Chamber of Deputies using the linked data provided by data.camera.it.
data.camera.it is a platform for publishing and sharing Linked Open Data on the activities and bodies of the Chamber, to be downloaded or interrogated freely.
The main features of this data are:
free availability: the data proposed are Open, i.e. released under the Creative Commons - Attribution - Share in the same way license and freely usable by users;
semantics: the use of semantic descriptors allows links between resources to emerge, correlating them according to their “meaning”. RDF thus provides the possibility of describing resources through a structured and graph-oriented data model, and therefore constitutes the main description model used;
usability: within the hypermedia network the nodes become resources, identifiable through uri and representable in various formats, according to the needs (RDF can for example be serialized in xml formats as well as on simple text files, and presented to the html pages)
Queries over linked data have been executed using a semantic query language called SPARQL that allows to retrieve and manipulate data stored in Resource Description Framework (RDF) format .
Data has been extracted on February 1, 2021.
Chamber composition: deputies
Currently the Chamber counts 629 deputies in this eighteenth legislature started on March 2018. The following sections describe the deputies in respect of their political group, personal characteristics, education and Chamber experience.
In order to do this the deputato class included in the Deputies Chamber Ontology (OCD) of data.camera.it has been queried.
The deputato, subclass of persona, identifies the person who has played some role in the Chamber of Deputies and in particular who has a parliamentary mandate: a deputy.
Chamber groups composition
The rules of the Chamber provide that each deputy must belong to a parliamentary group. The “mixed” group brings together Members who do not belong to any other group. At least twenty deputies are needed to form a group in the Chamber.
Note that the parliamentary group to which the deputy belongs at this time could not coincide with the political party for which he was elected.
The following visualization describe the Chamber Groups composition.
As Stream of Data Consciousness is not a political commentary blog and to give an idea of the political area of the parliamentary group, their position within the Chamber is reported from left to right:
Liberi e Uguali group sits at the far left,
Partito Democratico group sits at left,
Italia Viva sits to the left,
Movimento 5 Stelle sits from the left to the center,
Misto group sits at center,
Forza Italia group sits from the center towards the right,
Lega - Salvini premier group sits to the right,
Fratelli d’Italia group sits at the far right.
Deputies political moves
Deputies that are elected in a political parties could then move to a parliamentary group that is not the corresponding one. These moves can happen anytime during the legislature.
The following visualization shows how many deputies moved to parliamentary group politically different from the original party.
A patrol of Movimento 5 Stelle elected deputies are registered in Gruppo Misto. Italia Viva is a parliamentary group born from the split from Partito Democratico party. Other political parties have few deputies moved to politically contiguous groups or to Misto group as independent.
+Europa, MAIE, SVP, USEI deputies are all registered in gruppo MISTO because their party group does not overcome the 20 members threshold.
Gender gap is highly present in the Chamber being male deputies almost twice as female ones as shown in the bar plot below.
The age of the deputies ranges from almost thirty to more than eighty years with female being younger on average.Youngest and oldest deputies belongs to the following parliamentary groups.
|MOVIMENTO 5 STELLE||28||2|
|LEGA - SALVINI PREMIER||29||2|
|MOVIMENTO 5 STELLE||29||3|
|FORZA ITALIA - BERLUSCONI PRESIDENTE||77||3|
From the provided data it is possible to extract from the info field the education level of the deputy as visualized below.
Most part of the Chamber is composed by graduate deputies.
deputies political experience
In order to measure political experience the mandates distribution present in the Chamber of 18th legislature has been drawn in the graph below. It appears clearly that the deputies majority are rookies at their very first mandate. At the same time experienced deputies with more than 2 mandates are very few.The most experienced deputies belongs to the following parliamentary groups:
|FORZA ITALIA - BERLUSCONI PRESIDENTE (27.03.2018)||8||1|
|FORZA ITALIA - BERLUSCONI PRESIDENTE (27.03.2018)||7||1|
|FORZA ITALIA - BERLUSCONI PRESIDENTE (27.03.2018)||6||2|
|LEGA - SALVINI PREMIER (27.03.2018)||6||1|
|PARTITO DEMOCRATICO (27.03.2018)||6||2|
deputies with government roles
During the XVIIIth legislature, Italy had 2 governments as of February 1, 2021.Overall the chamber has held the following posts in the governments.
|I Governo Conte (31.05.2018 - 04.09.2019)||51|
|II Governo Conte (04.09.2019)||43|
Note that second Conte government already ended few days ago lacking parliamentary support: end date has not yet been updated on data extracted February 1st.
In the below visualization it is shown how many and which government posts have been covered by deputies.
In the second Conte government the Chamber provides:
no “VICEPRESIDENTE DEL CONSIGLIO” (prime minister vice)
more than double “MINISTRO” or minister
less than half undersecretaries to the prime minister
The chamber has 2 fundamental roles: controlling the government and legislative activity. In legislature XVIII, the Chamber discussed 2907 proposed laws.
The following sections explore the chamber activities considering acts initiative, status and iter duration.
In order to do this the atto class included in the Deputies Chamber Ontology (OCD) of data.camera.it has been queried.
The class atto contains proposals and bills discussed in the Chamber.
Laws discussed in the Chamber of Deputies can be proposed by:
the parliament, both Chamber of Deputies and Senate of the Republic ( Parlamentare initiative),
regions ( Regioni initiative),
government ( Governo initiative),
people ( Popolare initiative) or
National Council of Economy and Labor ( CNEL initiative).
In legislature XVIII the discussed laws distribution by initiative is as displayed below. Law initiated by parliament are by far the most numerous, followed by those initiated by government.
from proposals to laws
Till the date of publication according to open data, the legislature XVIII parliament passed 186 laws converting only 6.4% of the proposed acts. It is interesting to note the distribution by initiative. The weight of the government legislative action seems to be almost double in respect of the parliament. The people has seen only one proposal converted in law. Institution such has Regioni and CNEL did not see any proposal converted in law.
Visualizing days needed to convert the proposal from the presentation date to the final approval, it is possible to note that the time distribution varies depending on the initiating institution. The times for the approval of the laws of parliamentary initiative are lengthened and in extreme cases they reach 600 days. On the contrary, the laws proposed by the government seem to have a shorter and more concentrated process.
The approval process of a law in Italy is really complex. Considering one approved law with the longest iter, the steps have been: Da assegnare, Assegnato, In corso di esame in Commissione, Concluso l’esame da parte della Commissione. In stato di relazione, Assegnato, In corso di esame in Commissione, Rinviato dall’Assemblea in Commissione, Concluso l’esame da parte della Commissione. In stato di relazione, In discussione, In discussione, Approvato. Trasmesso al Senato, Approvato definitivamente dal Senato. Legge, Approvato definitivamente dal Senato, non ancora pubblicato .
Retrieving all the voting data available no vote has been recorded after March 04, 2020 . The author does not find any valid reason why parliament transparency offered by open data has been suspended.
Chamber voting sessions of the XVIII legislature showed a high absence rate till March 2020: on average 25.6% of the deputies do not attend to voting sessions.
This post reveals that:
there is some evidence of gender gap in Italian politics at least in the Chamber;
deputies of Legislature XVIII are not so experienced (the most part is at his first mandate);
law conversion ratio (approved law over proposals) is about 5%;
government legislative action is more effective than that of the parliament;
vote data after March 2020 have not been updated;
the absences of deputies from voting are significant.
From this analysis it turns out that the Chamber of the XVIII legislature is not so productive.
The author is conscious that this is quite a generic claim since no comparative study has been performed or reported and furthermore productivity could be questionable as a performance metric for a parliament branch.
In any case low laws conversion rate, government initiative higher efficacy in respect of parliament initiative, absences from vote sessions represent warning signs of a suboptimal functioning of the Chamber.
As a final consideration, this article intends to emphasize that open data helps digital citizens to monitor political activity that would otherwise only be carried out with the mediation of the press.
Updating open data constantly would demonstrate that the so called digital transformation policies are taken in consideration.
Feel free to email me if you would like to go deeper in the analysis, thanks for reading!
The analysis shown in this post have been executed using R as main computation tool together with its gorgeous ecosystem (tidyverse included). In particular data has been retrieved using SPARQL R package.