Despite the promise of the new "Second Republic" launched in the early 1990s, Italy remains Europe's least well-governed country. Fifteen years ago, politicians on the take and mafiosi on the make were supposedly pushed aside by a new generation of reformers and crusading magistrates. However, in this new book a team of leading experts on Italy uncovers little real progress. Badly needed reforms have foundered on bickering between the parties and their ego-centric leaders. Both left and right-wing coalitions have been guilty of impeding the anti-corruption revolution. Little has been done to improve the quality of public expenditure: infrastructure and education systems remain shambolic, and decades of periodic devaluation and deficit spending have left the economy structurally weakened. Italy's politicians are not just masters of trasformismo (an ability to reinvent and present themselves anew to voters), but of stratificazione, or "layering", the introduction of new policies and institutions without replacing those that preceded them.
The result is a damaging mix of obsolete and contradictory legislation, the product of bargaining over reform by chronically weak governments in a veto-ridden polity. The outcome - immobilismo - is a system in which all parties, and democratic government itself, are steadily losing legitimacy. This book was published as a special issue of West European Politics.
Martin Bull is Professor of Politics at the University of Salford, UK. Martin Rhodes is Professor of Political Economy in the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver, USA.
1. Introduction - Italy: A contested polity Martin Bull and Martin Rhodes 2. A long quest in vain: Institutional reforms in Italy Martin Bull and Gianfranco Pasquino 3. Government under Berlusconi: The functioning of the core institutions in Italy Salvatore Vassallo 4. Electoral change and its impact on the party system in Italy Luciano Bardi 5. The Italian centre-right and centre-left: Between parties and "the party" Ilvo Diamanti 6. Italy's dysfunctional political economy Marcello De Cecco 7. Eppure, non si muove: Legal change, institutional stability and Italian corporate governance Pepper D. Culpepper 8. Industrial relations and the welfare state in Italy: Assessing the potential of negotiated change Oscar Molina and Martin Rhodes 9. Corruption and anti-corruption: The political defeat of "Clean Hands" in Italy Donatella Della Porta and Alberto Vannucci 10. Mafia and organised crime in Italy: The unacknowledged successes of law enforcement Letizia Paoli 11. Conflicts of interest and media pluralism in Italian broadcasting Matthew Hibberd 12. The domestic foundations of Italy's foreign and development policies Maurizio Carbone 13. Italian politics and the European Union: A tale of two research designs Lucia Quaglia and Claudio M. Radaelli
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