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Space is power. Having a place, a seat, an ability to occupy a particular space can empower, in part by mere presence, but also by enabling a voice to be heard, to provide new perspectives, new ways of thinking and doing. Certainly, the recent Arab Uprisings' and the "Occupy" movement' took the forms they did, at least in part, because the participants understood the importance of physically occupying symbolically loaded spaces and places to promote political and social ideas and ideals. Conversely, exclusion from a place or "negative presence"' often has the effect of silencing and of marginalizing those who are excluded.' What do space, place, and power have to do with electoral quotas for women in Italy? As in other countries, women in Italy have been affirmatively excluded from many public and political spaces until relatively recently. Italian law has enforced and reinforced such exclusions, this negative presence and marginalization of women in Italian public life."

This article examines how the law has been used to exclude women from political space and place in Italy, and more generally, the impact this has had on women's citizenship rights as well as the impact on democracy. In addressing these issues, this article also details the more recent attempts to provide access to important political spaces, namely at the national and local levels of government. Framing this discussion in terms of space and place helps dislodge the issue of quotas from the stigma with which they are associated in the United States, in particular." In addition, this perspective seeks to eschew the vexed dichotomies of formal versus substantive equality and equality of opportunity versus equality of results. Instead, the structure of space, place, and power provides a richer lens through which to consider electoral quotas to create political space for women, broaden representation, and enhance democracy.

Part I of this article briefly outlines the traditional "equality" approaches for evaluating quotas, in order to illustrate that notions of equality are only partially useful for resolving questions of electoral quotas for women. This section also considers the meaning of the term quota and explains that there is a broad array of measures that comes within the term electoral quota. This range of methods for increasing the presence of women in elected offices calls for a broader and richer lens through which to view them." Part II explores the framework of space, place, and power to consider how this perspective might reshape the discussion of quotas and other affirmative measures to increase the number of women in elected office. Part III delves into the history of equality struggles in Italy beginning with an in-depth look at the legally sanctioned negative presence of women. This section also briefly describes relatively recent efforts of the feminist movement to bring about equality from women's external, negative presence. Finally, Part IV turns to specific examples of efforts to undo this proscription and establish what a number of Italian scholars describe as "equilibrium" of the sexes in political representation." The Italian Parliament and the Constitutional Court have been the protagonists in this effort, with one institution advancing quotas while the other resists and then both switching roles." This section also describes the current status of electoral quotas in Italy.