|The Sicilian Regional Assembly|
|Attività politica e Comunicati|
|Informazione e Documentazione||
Functions and prerogatives of the President
The role of the President of the Sicilian Regional Parliament is an important one, and his powers are extensive. This is thanks not only to the present laws in force, but also to the traditions of the national parliament, from which the Sicilian Assembly has always made reference to.
Firstly, the President has an important constitutional role. This is highlighted both in article 4 of the special Statute, which foresees the existence of such a role, and, more importantly, in article 11, which grants the President special powers to call the Assembly for both ordinary and extraordinary sessions (on the request of the regional government or of at least twenty members of parliament).
Over time the position of the President of the Sicilian Parliament (as with the Presidents of the national parliament and the Senate) has acquired an external aspect, as ordinary legislation has granted him responsibilities outside the confines of Parliament. It is important to note, however, that the President’s role remains one of impartiality and independence, as highlighted in our regulations.
The traditional role as an impartial arbiter of parliamentary debate has evolved into that of an active guarantor of the functioning of the Sicilian Parliament in its new institutional structure.
Article 7 of the Sicilian Parliament’s internal regulations defines the general powers of the President, and these can be classified in five large categories:
- Representation. The President is both a representative of the “institution”, in the sense that he represents the will of the parliament that has elected him and the decisions made by the said assembly, and a legal representative, including presence in a court.
- Activation and impetus. It is the President’s prerogative to take active decisions within the parliamentary dynamic, such as, for example, convocations (of the chamber, of Installation Commissions, of Groups for the first meeting, etc.) or the assignment of draft laws and other acts to the competent Commissions.
- Nomination. It is the President’s responsibility to choose the members of the Commissions which he presides over (Regulatory Commissions, power-checking commissions) or of bodies whose nomination is his responsibility or which have been referred to him (commissions for the inspection of the library, special commissions, committees for the quality of legislation, etc.). The President has a great deal of discretion in exercising these powers, but must make sure that the criteria of proportional representation of the parliamentary groups is respected.
Direction and organisation of the works. This is the central nucleus of the president’s roles and regards the rules and operative means of the entire parliamentary system: the President is responsible for interpreting and applying rules and parliamentary practices. Once again, in this sphere, he has great discretion which, in reality verges on “absolute” power, as this role is exclusive to the President. Equally supreme is the President’s judgment regarding the receptivity - admissibility –proceedability - proposability of texts presented and, in general, of all parliamentary acts (draft laws, amendments, inspectorial and political acts, etc.).
To plan parliamentary activities, the President calls and chairs a conference of the party leaders to discuss the programmes and calendars that he has drawn up. If the conference should not reach an agreement, it is the President’s responsibility to draw up a temporary work schedule that will be communicated to Parliament. Keeping order during parliamentary sessions and in the Palace in general is the sole responsibility of the President. For this he has wide-ranging disciplinary powers and an internal police force.
Any member of parliament who continues to disturb the order or use inappropriate language after having been called to order twice may be excluded from the chamber by the President for the rest of the session or, in more serious cases, be officially censured.
It should also be remembered that the police may not enter the Parliament (including the chamber, areas reserved to members and offices) if not permitted or requested by the President.
Control and externalisation. It is the President’s responsibility to oversee the formal regularity (respect for terms and procedures) of parliamentary procedures (wherever these may take place) and to announce concluded acts to the public, when requested.
Now that the form of government has changed with the direct election of the Regional President and the introduction of a direct electoral mechanism to ensure the stability of the government, it has been thought necessary that the presidential office, notwithstanding its position of impartiality, should be considered an active part of the new institutional structure.
So as to avoid the risk that the Sicilian Parliament becomes a chamber for ratifying decisions made elsewhere (a problem that is common to all parliamentary assemblies), it is absolutely necessary that, on the one hand, the President, guarantees that Parliament performs its duties (such as those of surveillance and control) while on the other hand that he has an obligation externalise, publicly reporting those who, within or without the Palace, are slowing down Parliamentary activities.
Finally, it is the responsibility of the President of the Sicilian Parliament, in conformity with regional law n. 44 of 1996, to preside over and represent the Fondazione Federico II. This foundation, which is governed by private law, was recognised in 1997 in a decree issued by the President of the Sicilian Region. Its mission is to promote “a widespread knowledge of the activities of the region’s institutions and in particular those of the Parliament, and to ensure the diffusion of information regarding the values and cultural heritage of Sicily”.