Administration and Society. The «New Citizen»

By Gregorio Arena

Horizontal subsidiarity is potentially a very rich principle, as recognized by Article 118 of the Italian Constitution. However, such wealth would be wasted if there were no tools to «translate» its potential into practical effects on the daily workings of our administrative bodies, particularly at the local level. However, fortunately, such tools do exist. The first is «shared administration», an organizational model that was first theorized twenty years ago. The second is a model of local regulation that has been adopted by several Italian municipalities to govern the relationship between active citizens and local administrative bodies through so-called «collaboration deals».
In practice, these deals are much more than a mere tool to enhance citizens’ hidden capabilities to take care of common goods. Indeed, such deals become the virtual «locus» in which citizens and public administrations jointly determine what is their community’s general interest, how to pursue it, with what resources, procedures, etc. For this reason, then, today it can be said that the active freedom that – according to Benvenuti – distinguishes what he calls «demarchia» is mirrored in the new form of freedom recognized to citizens by the Constitution when, by applying the subsidiarity principle, they literally bring the Constitution to life.