Since 1947, every 25 July, the day of San Jacopo, patron saint of the city, the Giostra dell'Orso has been held in Pistoia. The gory aspects for the horses involved in the exhibition have raised protests and controversies that the Municipality has decided to tackle with a discussion path and a referendum.
Problems and Purpose
The Municipal Council of Pistoia, with resolution n ° 100 of 22/9/2014, after thorough discussion on the events that occurred during the Giostra dell'Orso in 2014, recommended that the city be called upon to express itself through a Consultative Referendum regarding the eventual 2016 edition of the event. The referendum took place online from 2/24/2016 to 3/3/2016 (link 1).
Since 1947, every 25 July, the day of San Jacopo, patron saint of the city, has been held in Pistoia, the Carousel of the Bear. It is a palio, which includes challenges on horseback in a medieval style, largely invented for identification and recreational purposes, after the war. Challenges require particularly stressful performances from horses. During the 2014 joust, two horses died and three veterinarians as well as the owner, jockey and trainer went to trial for violating the rules of participation and the methods of treating animals; allegations of doping and irregularities in the procedures for killing injured animals were also raised . The mayor, immediately after the event, ordered the suspension of the 2015 edition and started an institutional discussion on the evaluation of the carousel with a view to its profound revision . The discussion started by the Committees of the City Council lasted a year and ended with the online referendum, which took place in February-March 2015.
Background History and Context
In all the statutes of the Italian institutions, from the Constitution of the Republic to the statute of the smallest municipality, we find the institution of the referendum. In Italy it is not a very used tool and at the municipal level even less. However, in this case we have an unpublished version of a referendum made through online tools. It was a consultative referendum that has no constraints for the administration, so a way was tested that would reduce the organizational costs and experiment with the Internet-based tools of e-democracy.
According to the promoters l The current Giostra dell'Orso, born in 1949, has "its origins in the ancient“ palio ”. This competition was already held in 1200 in honor of San Jacopo, patron saint of the city" (link 2). "A long period of suspension, however, occurred at the outbreak of the First World War which lasted until the second, until in 1947 a group of young students, in an attempt to leave behind the so sad pages of our contemporary history, revived a demonstration on the type of the "Giostra del Saracino" of Arezzo. This first carousel was run on a straight path, which went from the town hall to the court and the target to hit was a bear with a papier-mâché head and a body covered with goat skins "(link 2). Today the competition consists of a circular course, with very short straights, on which two stylized metal bears are placed respectively with targets at the ends of the open arms. The horses are launched at a gallop by the jockeys equipped with spears to hit the target before the opponent. The stresses, due to the tight curves and the imbalances of the jockeys, cause stress, particularly in the lower part of the front legs, which can injure the horses . The events are held in Piazza del Duomo and last about a fortnight, in which religious ceremonies, costumed processions, dinners and processions, rehearsals with horses, and the final carousel alternate.
Several times he was suspended and "since 1975, since he started again with continuity, he has seen 9 horses die and 17 lame" . An advisor to the Greens, concerned about the health and treatment of animals, collected 30,000 signatures through Change.org to stop the carousel and demand an end or a major overhaul .
The political tradition of city is left and center left. Mayor Samuele Bertinelli was elected in 2012 to lead a very large center-left coalition, with 59%, in the first round.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Promoter of the referendum and of the institutional discussions that precede it are first the Mayor and then the Municipal Council of Pistoia which resolved in 2014 to call the referendum (Cons. Com., Resolution 100/2014).
The system used for online voting is the regional portal Open Toscana, provided by the Region to regional participatory processes (link 1).
No costs relating to the voting platform or any advertising promotion plans for the referendum were provided in the resolutions.
Participant Recruitment and Selection span >
Before the elaboration of the new regulation, the Municipal Council of Pistoia has coin addressed in hearings the various subjects involved in the organization of the event and therefore many citizens and organizations.
To the elaboration of the new regulation of the Giostra dell'Orso, in addition to the City Council, which has addresses, a "Provisional Commission" group of 14 people collaborated, defined in the roles by the Municipal Council (Cons. Com., Of. n. 138/2015, pp. 4). The commission is made up of: a representative of the Local Health Authority of Pistoia, a hippies veterinarian, a representative of CONI, the presidents of the four districts, one of the city organizing committee of the carousel, one of the Italian Federation of Historical Games, one of the Compagnia dell ' Orso, one of the archers of Micco, a sole representative of animal welfare associations (ENPA, OIPA, LAV), a historian and a representative for the sports poles (Ib., P. 4).
To the online referendum all citizens registered on the electoral lists of the Municipality of Pistoia could participate (Cons. Com., del., n. 206/2015, p. 4).
Methods and Tools Used
The referendum is a popular voting method regulated by law; in Italy it is found in the Constitution since 1948. Before that time plebiscites were organized, which differed from the referendum for the unregulated and instrumental activation to the will of the executive power.
Its activation can derive from a majority or minority will but with a minimum number of parliamentarians or councilors in favor of its calling. The classic methods of activation foresee procedures from below (through collections of signatures) or from above (through motions that emerged in elective assemblies); sometimes the referendum is promoted by the executives, as in the present case. The subjects requesting the referendum, through regulated procedures, in which specific commissions are convened to verify the legitimacy of the request and the formulation of the questions, formulate the question (s) to be submitted to the popular vote. Electoral ballots are set up with paper ballots on which the question and clear answers "Yes" or "No" are printed. In the case in question, instead of setting up the polling stations in schools, an online voting platform was set up, which could be accessed by entering the tax code and electoral card number, the document that certifies possession of citizenship and the right to vote. . In addition to their electronic devices, the voter could go to libraries or municipal URPs and ask for the assistance of operators for access via a public terminal.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Before the consultation, the work of the commissions lasted more than a year and was aimed at drafting a new regulation of the Giostra. This regulation according to the director of the PD Giovannelli is the result of a collective work that went beyond the majority to advise. It also involved, through hearings, a plurality of subjects "from the wards, to veterinarians, to those who deal more with the historical and folkloric aspects linked to the event, the animal welfare [...] associations, we really listened to everyone [... ] to create a true participation of the City [...] We listened to many citizens, and in the end the commissions took their responsibility to draft a text that I believe is really the result of that work "(Cons. Com., del . no. 135/2015, p. 4). The new regulation aims to remedy the stress suffered by horses, changing the identity of the event and focus more on the development of precision skills in hitting targets than at the speed of the race, with certain types of horses, to make it as safe as possible (Ib ., p. 7).
Some councilors like Tomasi, from the opposition advising the center-right do not support the referendum and argue that, especially if organized only online, it does not give everyone the opportunity to participate, moreover if the participation will be reduced, as expected, it will not have a sufficient value to support the decisions of the board. It would therefore have been better to proceed directly to the Council (Cons. Com., Del. N. 137/2015, p 10).
A "Provisional Commission" has been set up which "strictly free of charge" must take care of drafting the new regulation for the aforementioned purposes, relying on the selection of horses, identifying the suitable characteristics and on the assignment of scores by rewarding precision "in a preponderant way compared to any other aspect of the competition" (Cons. Com., of. no. 138/2015, pp. 4-5). . Furthermore, the commission is asked to establish a maximum and minimum time to travel the track, commensurate with the characteristics of the horses, and to establish the parameters according to which the participants in the competition must also be evaluated from a stylistic point of view (Cons. Com., Del. no. 206/2015, p. 3). The supplier of the online voting system that has been identified in Open Toscana, the regional portal to support participatory processes, is also defined, and the general formulation of the referendum question is indicated, which must be a dry question and answer, in a referendum style " Are you in favor or against ...? Answer: "Yes / No" (Ib., P. 4).
Finally, the Government decides on the calling of the referendum and its modalities and rules of access. The provisions coming from the Council are confirmed and the question is formulated which is very long and begins like this: "The Municipal Council of Pistoia has established the following binding guidelines to which the Provisional Commission of the Municipality of Pistoia must comply in drafting the new regulation for the Giostra dell'Orso "; the points of the regulation follow, and ends with" After having read these addresses, do you think that the Giostra should resume in 2016? Yes - No "(Giunta Com., Del. N. 9 del 5/2/2016, pp. 5 - 6).
It was then established that voting would only be possible online; operators of the URP service and libraries, during service hours, would have been available to citizens, with difficulty in expressing themselves online; that voting would remain open for a weekday from 24/2 to 3/3/2016. It was also available a toll-free telephone number. To vote you had to enter the tax code and the number of your electoral card before being able to click on your preference.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
4,033 voters (5.54%) out of 72,739 eligible voters took part in the vote. 64.52% (2,602 votes) voted "Yes". then it was possible to find, neither from the information present on the Open Toscana platform, nor on the Municipality website, further information on the meetings of the provisional Commission for the regulation, its timing and the methods of carrying out its work (e.g. minutes).
In 2016 the Carousel was held again and there were no injuries. “The new rules, which have favored precision over speed and which require all jockeys to be from Pistoia - continues the councilor - have made the competition accessible even to the youngest. And in fact, yesterday evening, on the track, many young and very young people put themselves to the test who showed how Pistoia can cultivate many new talents and give life to a real nursery capable of continuing, innovating, the glorious tradition of the many Pistoian champions. Throughout yesterday evening, both in the square and "behind the scenes" there was a lively atmosphere, even competitive, but serene, as it should always be among people who collaborate to give a beautiful show to the city and to the many tourists which, even yesterday, crowded the steps of Piazza del Duomo. Yesterday, neither among the jockeys nor among the horses, was injured, and this was the most important aspect "[...]" The road traced, in short, is the right one: the setting is good. Now, immediately to work for the 2017 Carousel! " .
The consultation method was also supported by the M5S: "What we were most concerned about - it is specified on the Fb page of the local Cinquestelle - was the implementation of this consultation tool of the popular will "They do not hide" a bit of disappointment due to the low participation ", but underline:" There is still a victory: a small step, which will be followed by others, towards a democracy from the bottom, more and more participatory ". < / p>
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Apart from those who are fond of the idea of liberal democracy, referendums remain the tools more reliable than collective decisions, despite the fact that they can obtain low turnouts. In this case the result is ambivalent, being one of the first referendums in Italy, to be carried out only online  the doubt arises whether the low turnout is due to the theme, the method of voting or promotion methods ema can affect the technical reliability of the referendum, which should be higher when the involvement is low, while it could be more exposed to attacks and tampering in the case of relevant issues, therefore being more difficult to use. On the other hand, familiarity and trust in the technical tool can positively affect the response of the public and the turnout. Obviously it is the communication and responsibility investment on the instrument by the authorities that make it a public ritual for verifying consent. An online consultative referendum therefore looks like little more than a poll.
It is difficult to assess the causes of the low turnout in this case. Press articles and radio releases were found, but it is not possible to determine the extent of the advertising accompaniment and promotion in the wards. No elements were found to establish whether or not there was a spontaneous and engaging referendum campaign, a widespread citizen debate. The right has criticized the online modalities of the referendum. Animal welfare associations have sent a vote no. The wards will have involved the residents in supporting the tradition again. However, the results suggest that an engaging campaign did not take place. The result in any way would not have been reassuring for the continuation of the show. However, it has allowed the local community in general to take charge of the problem and everyone will be able to evaluate the decisions taken with greater responsibility for the future effects. The lack of transparency and communication on the work of the "Provisional Commission" on the regulation does not deny but resizes what has been written above.
 Lenzi, L., Thirty thousand signatures for the definitive closure of the Giostra dell'Orso, Report Pistoia, 22/9/14 & gt; http : //www.reportpistoia.com/pistoia/item/11484-trentamila-firme-per-la -...
 Donati M., Melegari S., Moscadelli M ., Giostra dell'Orso shock: the two injured horses died. Prosecutor's investigation. Bertinelli: "Stop for a year", Il Tirreno, 26/7/14 & gt; http: //iltirreno.gelocal.it/pistoia/cronaca/2014/07/26/news/giostra-dell ...
[3 ] @anmviOggi, Online veterinary information, Giostra dell'Orso 2014, Veterinarians on trial for the two horses killed, 14/7/2016 & gt; http: //www.anmvioggi.it/notizie-della-settimana/297-attualita/63762-gios ...
 Report Pistoia, Giostra dell'Orso, the commissioner Becheri: "The road traced is the right one", 27/7/2016 & gt; http: //www.reportpistoia.com/pistoia/item/38565-giostra-dell-orso-l-asse ...
 Evangelisti, D., Referendum online , the first is in Tuscany (on the “Giostra dell'orso”). The Region: “Success test”. But the turnout is flop, Il Fatto Quotidiano.it, 13/3/2016 & gt; http: //www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2016/03/13/referendum-online-il-primo-e -... a >
Resolutions of public administrations
City Council, resolution no. 135 of 14/12/2015 & gt; http: // open .toscana.it / documents / 225860/0 / Resolution + CC + 135-2015 / 59e036f9 -... (ril., 15/3/17)
City Council, resolution no. . 137 of 21/12/2015 & gt; http: // open .toscana.it / documents / 225860/0 / Resolution + CC + 137-15 / 363e934d-f0 ...
City Council, resolution no. 206 of 30/12/2015 & gt; http: // open .toscana.it / documents / 225860/0 / Resolution + GC + 206-15 / 7c74d8a2-7b ...
1. Open Toscana, Referendum for the Giostra dell'Orso, Municipality of Pistoia & gt; http://open.toscana.it/web/giostraorsopistoia/home (ril., (15/3/17).
2. City Committee Giostra dell'Orso - Pistoia & gt; http://www.giostradellorso-pistoia.it (ril., 15/3/17).