to make citizenship dependent on birth, not blood ties to Italy. That would make it easier for the children of immigrants to acquire citizenship.The Northern League opposition party is not happy about this and is attempting to block it.
The row has exposed the hollowness of the League’s claim that it is not xenophobic, only against illegal immigrants. It would be hard to find a shinier success story than Ms Kyenge’s. She entered Italy legally in 1983 to study medicine (though she lived illegally in the country for about a year after a university scholarship she had been led to expect failed to materialise). In 1994, she married an Italian engineer and became a citizen.
The shameful treatment of the country’s first black minister, and the limited condemnation of it, not only hurts Italy’s image. It also jars with Italians’ widespread belief that they are free of racism. Using data from 2005-07, the World Values Survey found 11.1% of Italians saying they did not want neighbours of a different race, against 4.9% in Britain. Even among Spaniards, who have had a similar experience of rapid, recent and largely unauthorised immigration, the proportion was 6.9%. Ms Kyenge has a tough job ahead of her, in every sense.