There has been a continuous discussion since the second half of the

1980s on the transformation of the most important political, institutional,

and social structures within states, especially European

states. If a polity is defined as the various spheres—political, institutional

and social—that constitute states, then it may be argued that

changes on a European and global scale, along with transformations

that affect the sub-national level of government, have given rise to a

series of structural constraints and factors that shape political and

social life well beyond the borders of the national state. It is a discussion

that has not spared Italy, especially given the scale of change

experienced in the 1990s. This is not to say that internal factors no

longer exert an element of agency. Rather, endogenous forces need to

be placed within a broader context. The links between exogenous

influences and endogenous dynamics might help explain the continuity

and change of the structures of various national polities. The

events of 2003, presented in the chapters that follow, provide ample

material in this respect.

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