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Title: Disobedient Mayors: Exploring Intercity Collaboration as a Solution to
Authors: Gilbert, Rose
Advisors: Marrone-Puglia, Gaetana
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: In the past decade, millions of asylum-seekers have risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. Most of these people departed from Libya, where the lack of effective governance has made it an ideal site for human smuggling operations. Because of its geographic proximity to Libya, Italy was one of the main destinations for refugees and asylum-seekers trying to enter Europe. The number of asylum-seekers arriving in Italy declined after 2015, as it did in the rest of Europe. However, after several years of an unprecedented surge in migration and a perceived lack of support from the European Union, public opinion towards migrants in Italy began to sour. In 2018, the far-right nationalist Lega party, led by Matteo Salvini, came to power as part of a coalition with the populative Five Stars Movement party. Matteo Salvini, who became the deputy prime minister and the Minister of the Interior, campaigned on a harsh, anti-migrant platform. In October, 2018, he issued Decreto-Legge n.113, which was passed into law (with some amendments) on December 1, 2018 as Legge n.132. Popularly known as Salvini’s Decree, this law has transformed migration policy with the goal of decreasing the number of migrants in Italy and reducing the number of new arrivals. However, while the national government is responsible for creating Italy’s migration policy, municipal governments are tasked with applying these laws at the local level and doing the work of receiving, processing, and integrating migrants. After the Salvini Decree was issued, many local governments protested that the new law seriously undermined their ability to resettle migrants safely and effectively. Some mayor openly refused to institute portions of the law on humanitarian grounds. This conflict between Italy’s national and local governments is at the heart of the question I seek to address in this thesis: how do local policymakers and officials respond to national policy when it does not account for their local interests or practical reality? While preparing this thesis, I spent three months conducting field research in Italy, during which time I conducted a dozen expert interviews, including national policy makers, local governmental officials, journalists, and activists. I also collected and analyzed data from sources in the Italian government, the European Union, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) concerning migration in Italy. Using this research, I examine three case studies of three very different municipal governments and their response to the changes instituted by the Salvini Decree. I ultimately theorize that in the case of the Salvini Decree, local governments have responded to the needs and realities dictated by their local circumstances above the law issued by the national government, and consider how this may impact the role of municipal government and intercity organizations in determining future migration policies in Italy.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2024

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