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The President and the “Wisemen”: Institutional Reforms and Political Stalemate

Luca Lanzalaco

At the end of March 2013, Italy's Parliament undertook an intense round of activity that was aimed at reforming the electoral system and some important aspects of the Constitution, such as the form of the state and that of the government. During this reform process, both the president of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and the prime minister, Enrico Letta, assumed a major role. This chapter analyzes the main characteristics of this policy cycle while examining the underlying elements of continuity and discontinuity with other reform efforts that have been undertaken over the past 30 years in Italy.

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Still Waiting for the Transformation

Carlo Fusaro and Amie Kreppel

The year 2011 is remembered as the year when Silvio Berlusconi’s government

fell and the Italian Second Republic entered its final stage,1

and the following year, 2012, has been remembered as the year dominated

by technocrats in power.2 In contrast, 2013 has proven to be a

year of incomplete transitions. The year has marked a period during

which the Italian political and institutional system reached a nearly

complete decisional stalemate, unable to move forward with political,

institutional, or economic initiatives despite several erstwhile attempts.

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Who Decides Foreign and Defense Policy in Italy?

Riccardo Bellandi

This chapter examines three important events of 2013: the worsening of the crisis with India concerning the threatened withholding of two Italian marines involved in the deaths of two Indian fishermen, the repatriation of the wife and daughter of Kazakh dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov, and the political struggle over the purchase of F-35 fighter jets. This analysis allows us to take stock of the Italian “national security model,” the decision-making processes governing the relations and powers of Italian institutions in managing international crises, and the adoption of national guidelines for defense and foreign policy.

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Women's Rights in a Conservative Country: Snail's Pace Progress or a Watershed Year?

Alessia Donà

Despite a situation of economic crisis and political uncertainty, the year 2013 will be remembered for the highest female parliamentary representation ever reached in Italy, for the adoption of new legislative measures to combat violence against women, and for increased female participation in the labor market. This chapter provides an overview of these three main events. First, by conducting a process-tracing analysis, the chapter reconstructs the steps taken toward new legislative measures against gender-based violence. Second, the chapter explores the Italian labor market, where the harsh crisis put women back into the workforce. Lastly, the possible policy implications of a renewed, younger, and more gender-balanced Parliament are discussed. The main argument is that the events of 2013 may represent a turning point for Italian women's rights, but only if traditional gender roles are challenged.

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Conference Report

Ingrid Sharp

Women’s Organizations and Female Activists in the Aftermath of the First World War: Central and Eastern Europe in National, Transnational, International, and Global Context

Report on an Interdisciplinary, International Conference held at the Institute for Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary, 17–19 May 2013

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Editorial

Francisca de Haan

In the quarter century since the fall of communist governments across Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, scholars have used increased access to archival sources and the fresh perspective created by time to begin to re-evaluate the Cold War, the “all-encompassing struggle for global power and influence between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies.” Yet, much of this new research remains centered on traditional topics like decision making amongst political elites, diplomacy, and espionage. Scholars are only beginning to explore the various and complex ways in which gender played a role in the Cold War conflict, in terms of representation and language, as having shaped foreign policy, or as a core field in which the two sides competed, each advocating its way of life, including its gender system, as superior and in women’s real interest. The Soviet Union, having given women full economic, political, and legal rights, at least until the 1970s claimed to have solved the “woman question”; in 1963, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev proudly stated in a message to an international congress of women held in Moscow that women were full-fledged members of Soviet society.

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Back in Europe? Italy, the Troika, and the Chancelleries

Francesco Stolfi

Having inherited high and increasing interest rates on public debt from its predecessor, the Monti government had to bring these yields down to sustainable levels and to push through the reforms that the Berlusconi government had abandoned. This article discusses the strategies that the Monti government employed to achieve these goals. It also analyzes the government?s international actions and finds that its international credibility was a subtle but significant asset. Although it did not necessarily acquire greater flexibility in its dealings with Italy?s international partners, the Monti government engaged in negotiations with the German government and the European Central Bank in an effort to help to defuse the Italian (and European) government debt crisis.

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Between Retaliatory Punishment and Reform: Some Thoughts on Vatileaks and Italian Politics

Alberto Melloni

What impact did the so-called Vatileaks scandal have on Italian politics? And how deep were the connections between the Vatican and the Italian transition of political assets in 2012? This in-depth analysis shows that the problems of the Church in relation to the state came much before the 2012 crisis, namely, during the time of the reluctant submission of Catholic hierarchies to Berlusconism.