The Politics of Italy: Governance in a Normal Country (Cambridge Textbooks in Comparative Politics)

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0521600464

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This innovative text offers a completely fresh approach to Italian politics by placing it in its historical, institutional, social and international contexts. Students will get to grips with the theories and concepts of comparative politics and how they apply specifically to Italy, while gaining real insight into more controversial topics such as the Mafia, corruption and the striking success of Berlusconi. The textbook uses clear and simple language to critically analyze Italy's institutions, its political culture, parties and interest groups, public policy, and its place in the international system. Often regarded as an anomaly, Italy is frequently described in terms of 'crisis', 'instability' and 'alienation'. Sceptical of these conventional accounts, Newell argues that, if understood in its own terms, the Italian political system is just as effective as other established democracies. With features including text boxes and further reading suggestions, this is an unbeatable introduction to the politics of Italy.

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Governments of the second republican period, 1994–2008 Government Dates Composition Duration (in days) 12th legislature, 15 April 1994 – 16 February 1996 (general election: 27 March 1994) Berlusconi I 10 May 1994 – 22 FI, LN, AN, CCD, UdC 226 Dec. 1994 Dini 17 Jan. 1995 – 17 May Independents 486 1996 13th legislature, 9 May 1996 – 9 March 2001 (general election 21 April 1996) Prodi 18 May 1996 – 9 Oct. PDS, PPI, Dini List, UD, 876 1998 Greens D’Alema I 27 Oct. 1998 – 18 Dec. Ulivo, PdCI, UDEUR 423 1999 D’Alema II 22 Dec.

On the other hand, there are at least three factors arguing for a certain significance to be attributed to these articles. (1) It was claimed at the time of the Constituent Assembly by the jurist Calamandrei that some articles risked undermining public confidence in future governments were they to be seen as failing to fulfil the obligations in question. A good example is article 32, which obliges the state to ‘protect health as a fundamental right of the individual’. And Calamandrei’s fear certainly found an echo in the results of later surveys revealing the considerable scepticism on the part of Italians concerning the general efficiency of their public institutions.

Finally, it was decided that if the coalition was to have any chance of beating the centre right in 2001, it needed to have a leader capable of competing effectively with Berlusconi in terms of novelty and personal image. Mayor of Rome, Francesco Rutelli, thus became the coalition’s leader in September 2000. n A ‘Second Republic’? The victory of Berlusconi and the House of Freedoms in May 2001 came at the end of a decade of unprecedented change in Italian politics and, after five years of centre-left governments, resulted in a clear alternation in power from left to right.

FI was less a political party in any conventional sense than a sophisticated marketing organisation designed to further the political ambitions of its rich leader. However, it promised a centre-right political home to the large pool of voters orphaned by the collapse of the traditional parties of government. The charisma of its self-made leader, with his promises to ‘do for Italy what he had done for himself’ further enhanced its electoral appeal by giving it novelty value. There were good reasons to be sceptical.

A parliamentary Commission for Constitutional Reform was set up after the 1996 election. However, it proved incapable of producing proposals able to win a sufficient degree of cross-party support. Such support was necessary if reforms were to have any chance of being enacted. In most democratic regimes, and here Italy is no exception, constitutional change requires more than a simple majority vote in favour if it is to pass. 7 The necessary broad base of support proved impossible to construct. In the final analysis this was due to two things: 42 History (1) the sheer number of parties being called upon to participate in the reform process.

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