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The Work of Parliament in the Year of the Technocratic Government

Andrea Pedrazzani and Luca Pinto

In November 2011, when the Italian sovereign debt crisis reached its peak, the Berlusconi IV government was replaced by a “caretaker” cabinet headed by Mario Monti. Composed exclusively of non-partisan ministers, the Monti government represents a clear deviation from how parliamentary democracies are generally expected to work. This chapter analyzes the activity and functioning of the Italian Parliament during the 13 months in which Monti remained in office. Compared to the previous government, we find that, quantitatively, the legislative production between the two executives is not significantly different, although the legislative process during the Monti government appears to have been faster. Not surprisingly, from the qualitative point of view, the bills passed during the caretaker government focused mainly on economic topics. Our findings suggest that the apparent broad consensus on Monti's agenda masked important differences between the main parties that supported the government.

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A Year of Social Movements in Italy: From the "No TAVS" to the Five Star Movement

Lorenzo Mosca

This chapter looks at the most important actors engaged in social and political conflict in Italy during 2012, linking conflicts to policy arenas and the change in policy style of the government. The study is based mostly on a qualitative analysis of the most important national newspapers. The actors examined are the mobilization of students, the trade union movement, the “No TAV” movement (against high-speed trains in northwestern Italy), and the Five Star Movement, all active against the anti-austerity measures of the technical government. Social reaction against so-called neo-liberal policies in Italy has been belated and fragmented when compared with other European countries. In the final section we discuss the explanations for the particular characteristics of the Italian protest movements during 2012.

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The Year of the External Podestà

Aldo Di Virgilio and Claudio M. Radaelli

In an editorial published in the summer of 2011 in the Corriere della

Sera, Professor Mario Monti commented on the financial crisis of those

weeks and the pressures coming from the markets and from the European

institutions, making three points.1 The first was a criticism of the

Berlusconi government and its majority, which, “after claiming that it

had the ability to solve the country’s problems alone, and after turning

down the possibility of a shared effort alongside other political parties

to try to lift a discouraged Italy out of the crisis, … then actually

accepted … a super-national technical government.”

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Melissa Feinberg

In the years after the fall of communist governments in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE), a flood of memoir literature began to fill bookstores around the region. Some of these books were newly written, others had been composed long ago but could not be published during the socialist period. Alongside this rush of published work, historians and anthropologists began numerous oral history projects devoted to recording ordinary people’s experiences of state socialism. This need to narrate one’s own past and capture the memories of those who witnessed the tragedies of the twentieth century continues to the present day. The turn to autobiography and personal narrative inspired the theme section in this issue of Aspasia: women’s autobiographical writing and correspondence.

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News and Miscellanea

Nadezhda Alexandrova

Conference Report: The Challenge of Gender in Ottoman, Turkish, and Middle-Eastern Studies: Attempting an Interdisciplinary Approach

Call for Papers: The European Journal of Women’s Studies – 25 Years Later: The New Europe

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List of abbreviations

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About the Editors and Authors

Notes on contributors

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The Berlusconi Government and the Sovereign Debt Crisis

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..

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Chronology of Italian Political Events, 2011

Rinaldo Vignati

Chronology of Italian Political Events, 2011

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Confindustria in Opposition

Giuseppe Berta

The annual conference that Confindustria holds in the spring came at a

delicate moment in 2011. Concerns about the overall state of the Italian

economy were deepening at that time (and were to become even greater

during the summer that followed); the political system was proving

unable to find a way out of the deadlock caused by the increasingly

shaky leadership of Silvio Berlusconi; and the news that arrived from

the business world continued to be alarming, starting with the recently

announced decision of Fincantieri to dismantle even its longest-standing

manufacturing hubs. Furthermore, on the very eve of the conference,

held on 26 May, rumors were circulating about the likelihood of

Fiat abandoning its representation in Confindustria, thereby showing

clear signs of detachment from Italy. The most interesting point in the

speech given by Emma Marcegaglia, the president of Confindustria

since 2008, was when she complained about Italy’s “lost decade” during

which the country had failed to produce wealth and prosperity.