Settling an Ethnic Conflict Through Power-Sharing

South Tyrol
  • Stefan Wolff


Italy is home to fourteen linguistic minorities, whose speakers make up seven per cent of the total population. Several of these languages are spoken by autochthonous minorities, others were absorbed from neighbouring European language areas. The Italian constitution and simple legislation protect linguistic minorities, and a number of them have been granted special rights through regional and provincial autonomy regulations giving them the status of official languages alongside Italian in these areas. Although Italy, according to the constitution, formally became a decentralised state after 1945, it took consecutive Italian governments until the late 1970s to pass and implement appropriate legislation to establish the regions and provinces and their respective assemblies. Five of the nineteen regions, which host ethno-linguistic minorities or have special geographic conditions (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Val d’Aosta, South Tyrol, Sardinia and Sicily), have been granted special autonomy status with wider legislative and administrative powers. Recent constitutional reforms have further increased the powers and autonomy of Italian regions.


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© Ulrich Schneckener and Stefan Wolff 2004

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  • Stefan Wolff

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