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Chapter 3 Italy. David Hine. 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. Introduction. Italy unified relatively late

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chapter 3 italy

Chapter 3Italy

David Hine

  • 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
  • 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
the peculiarities of italian democracy
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
problems in italian democracy
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
the end of the first republic
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
the institutional framework
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
the party system and coalition building
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
falling out of the european mainstream
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
  • 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