Italy: toward the abolition of conscription.

November 2001.

According to the law 331 of 2000, conscription will be "lifted" in Italy at the end of 2006. The "reform" has already begun since the number of military conscripts is decreasing. The numbers for next years are:

2002: 59400 conscripts
2003: 47000 "
2004: 38700 "
2005: 22400 "
2006: 11800 "

(You should read this data bearing in mind that in the past the conscripts required in Italy were about 270.000!)

In the meanwhile the number of objectors is steadily maintained at about 80.000 every year. This year there were more objectors in service than military recruits.

A recruit can choose between the normal service (10 months, 150 Euro per month) or the Annual Voluntary Military Service (VFA, 12 months, more than 400 Euro per month, the possibility to choose where to perform the service). Most of them decide to choose this second option.

In December will start the Voluntary Civilian Service (12 months, 350 Euro per month). The more there will be volunteers for this service, the more objectors will be exonerated from the service. At the beginning there will be only about 400 "volunteers".

There are always new reasons to ask to the authorities to be exonerated from the service. In this last years of conscription all those who are enough informed can avoid the service. I'm trying through the Internet to help as many people as possible, but it is so sad to see how many people still have to perform the service only because they are not informed about the way to ask exemption.
From next year (2002) those who are at the university will be required to have performed a number of exams higher and higher to postpone the military service. This is because they are trying to recruit all those born before 1986 until conscription is still in force.

Anyway, if you ask to someone in the street, he/she will say that there is no more conscription in Italy. According to the media and politicians, conscription is already been abolished. The Senator elected in my area, sent me a letter (probably sent to electors less than 30 year old) saying that I had to vote him because my generation did not perform the service because they had abolished conscription. Unfortunately only those less than 15 years old (none of them an elector) could benefit of this reform. All the people he had written his letter had to perform the service or were in service!). This can give you the idea of how the question is perceived by all those who are not themselves conscripted, including politicians.

In the last months, the international situation and the military involvment of Italy has brought to the attention of the media the Defence question, and also conscription. While the Defence Minister (Martino, a liberal) said that he want to abolish conscription in 2004, and not in 2006 as planned, his deputy Minister, Cicu, in a report to the Defence parliamentary commission showed the problem in recruiting enough volunteers to abolish conscription even in 2007 (but in my opinion this is just a way to obtain more money for the Defence sector).

In this situation the anti-conscription campaign is really difficult, because neither media, nor politicians are interested in this subject. Not even the young people, until they receive the call up papers . Anyway we were ready to such a situation, and we know that this is the price we have to pay to arrive at this 2006, when conscription will be "lifted". Personally, I prefer this situation, to the one of some years ago, when there was not even the hope of an end.

Valentina Piattelli,
presidente di "Né giusta Né utile" - Comitato per l'abolizione della leva obbligatoria, militare e civile