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Memoria e Ricerca

The Government of the Opinion: the Interpretations of the Statuto Albertino from 1848 to the Unification of Italy

di Luca Mannori
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 35 (2010), p. 83

This article offers a critical review of the constitutional literature published on the Piedmontese Statute during the first period of its application, i.e. from 1848 to the beginning of the 1860s. The interest of the subject lies mainly in the different readings of the relationship between the executive and legislative branch. Indeed, the analysis of these texts reveals a wide range of interpretations, which cover almost any possible form of constitutional government. Some of the authors conceive the Statute as nothing more than a limited monarchy which assigns Parliament mere external control of the Crown’s government. Some authors ascribe the executive power to the cabinet which represents a body mediating between the monarch and the elective Chamber, yet responsible to both at the same time. Others, however, adopt an emphatically parliamentary view of the Constitution, with the King playing a purely formal role in the balance of the power. The long hegemony of Cavour, from 1852 to 1861, assured a temporary victory of the most advanced interpretation, based on a strong and mutual relationship between ministry and Parliament, but the further phases of Italian constitutional history revealed that this was far from being the only possible reading of the Charter and allowed other interpretations to be reassessed.