La scoperta di acqua calda

The Italians use the above expression – the discovery of hot water – when they want to poke fun at importance given to something that to most people is pretty obvious.

This is what many of us could say about the recent announcement that voting for both this June’s local elections and next October’s popular referendum on proposed constitutional reforms will be held on one day only (Sunday) and not on the two days (Sunday and Monday) that have always massively boosted costs AND kept children out of schools for at least a day if not more.

I don’t know how many other countries have such a system but in Italy the reason this was originally done, I believe, was that so voters would not be penalized for spending their Sundays out of town or at the beach and would still have the option to get to the polls on the following day. But it is expensive and socially costly (closing down schools). So this is a good thing. What is not known is whether it will be forever or just for the next two elections.

Somehow, however, Italy’s school year always seems to get the short end of the stick. This year, because of the so called “bridge holiday” caused by the June 2 (Republic Day) holiday, which this year falls on a Thursday giving the better off the chance for yet another long weekend, and because of the June 5th vote in 1,363 municipalities (which means the schools are invaded by election officials starting two days earlier) and a run-off vote, where necessary, two weeks later, school in Italy this year actually ends at the end of May, meaning that the 200 school days guaranteed by law may well not be respected.

Maybe this makes Italian kids happy. But what about their parents? With schools closing between one and two weeks early this year (depending on the Region, of which Italy has 20), they are going to be forced to make other, possibly costly, babysitting arrangements for their children.

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