Italian Politics

Volume 32 / 2017, 1 issue per volume (autumn)

Subjects: Politics


Published in association with the Istituto Cattaneo and in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Europe.

Latest Issue Table of Contents

Volume 32 (2017): Issue 1 (Sep 2017): The Great Reform That Never Was. Guest Editors: Alessandro Chiaramonte and Alex Wilson

At around 9:00 pm on 12 November 2011, Silvio Berlusconi officially

informed the president of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, of his

resignation. The following day, the president invited Mario Monti to

form a new government. This marked the end of a long crisis involving

Berlusconi, not only as the head of the government, but also as

the leader of the center-right parliamentary majority, which had been

built on the alliance between the Popolo della Libertà (PdL, People of

Freedom) and the Lega Nord (LN, Northern League).

This chapter analyzes the processes of candidate selection in Italy for the main political parties facing the 2013 general election. In particular, the authors investigate and evaluate the primary elections organized, in November–December 2012, by the center-left coalition (composed of the Democratic Party, Left Ecology and Freedom, and the Italian Socialist Party) for the selection of the candidate to the office of president of the Council of Ministers. The chapter explores in detail the main issues at the center of the electoral campaign, the candidates involved in the process of selection, the socio-demographic profile of the “selectorate,” the electoral results of the primary elections, and their consequences for the consolidation of the Italian party system.

The topic of electoral reform, a recurring feature of the Italian political agenda, resurfaced in 2014. At the start of the year, a ruling by the Constitutional Court returned the country to a proportional system, similar to the one in place during the First Republic. This chapter examines the key political responses to that ruling and how the decision has spurred further electoral reforms, resulting in the most majoritarian system in Italy's democratic history.

This chapter examines the coalition-bargaining process that took place after the 2013 elections. Using a hand-coding technique, we analyzed the parliamentary speeches released by parties, first in April, during the investiture debate of the Letta I Cabinet, and again in December, during the confidence vote on the Letta II Cabinet. In mapping the policy position of Italian parties along the two most salient dimensions, that is, the economy and institutional reforms, we were able to assess theoretically the stability of the Letta cabinet(s). The lack of a “core party” and the wide policy distance between the two main partners of the coalition suggested the strong instability of the Letta I Cabinet, which ultimately led to the formation of a different government after the split of the PdL. This new Letta cabinet, however, was expected to be characterized by a strong instability as well.

Author: Erik Jones

The bond markets turned on Italy during the first weekend of July 2011

as part of a wider loss of confidence in European efforts to manage the

sovereign debt crisis. On Friday, 1 July, the difference—or “spread”—

between Italian and German 10-year government bond yields was 178

basis points or 1.78 percent. The following Monday, 4 July, it was up

to 183 basis points and rising. By Friday, 8 July, the spread was 237

basis points. It remained above that level to the end of the year.1 The

center-right government led by Silvio Berlusconi attempted to head

off this change in sentiment by pushing through successive reform

packages to promote fiscal consolidation and stimulate growth. Bond

traders consistently shrugged off these actions as too little, too late.

Ultimately, the pressure became so great that the center-right coalition

fractured and President Giorgio Napolitano replaced Berlusconi’s

Cabinet with a technocratic government headed by Mario Monti. Even

this, however, was not enough to appease the markets, and the year

ended with Italian bond yields again rising..