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Chapter 3 Italy

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  1. Chapter 3Italy David Hine

  2. Italy • The peculiarities of Italian democracy • The end of the ‘first’ Republic • The institutional framework • The party system and coalition building • Falling out of the European mainstream

  3. Introduction • Italy unified relatively late • Divide between North and South Italy has existed since the initial unification • Fascism under Mussolini lasted 1922-1945 • Polarised society has made parliamentary democracy unstable • Party system has become more stable, and alternating, since the early 1990s

  4. The peculiarities of Italian democracy • Post-WW2: fears that either communism or a resurgent fascism would undermine Italian democracy • Post-war governments lasted on average less than a year • PR electoral system invariably resulted in coalition governments • Christian Democrats were the main party in every post-war government • The Italian Communist Party were routinely excluded from government

  5. Problems in Italian democracy • Unstable coalition governments • Public disaffection from the political class • Non-aligned electorate • Weak executive unable to provide fair and efficient welfare provisions • Clientelism and corruption

  6. The end of the ‘first’ Republic • From late 1970s: voter dissatisfaction with a lack of alternation between parties in office sparked discussions on constitutional change • Popular disaffection and elite-level corruption result in the ‘Second’ Republic, created 1992-4

  7. The institutional framework • Strong parliament • Constitution seeks to keep power of executive in check • Weak executive • Executive unable to control spending - budget deficit doubles, 1980-92 • Central political authority strengthened under ‘second’ Republic • Shift from unitary state to devolved powers since 1990s

  8. The party system and coalition-building • Post-war to 1970s: polarized pluralism • From 1970s: moderation of extremist parties leads to de-polarization • Tangentopoli prompts dissolution of ‘first’ Republic parties • ‘Second’ Republic party system built around two broad coalitions • New party system – fragmented bi-polarity

  9. Falling out of the European mainstream • Italy more of an outlier over last 15 years • Massive public debt • Low level of multinational corporations • Continued political corruption deters investors • 1996-2005: c.1% GDP growth p.a. • Creeping Euroscepticism on right

  10. Summary • Post-war period saw Italian recovery through its association with democratic and free-market Europe • Main problem now is the cost of the Italian welfare state and the legacy of debt built up to pay for it