Chronology of Italian Political Events, 2013
Chronology of Italian Political Events, 2013
This year’s documentary appendix adopts a different approach. In a
change from previous volumes, demographic, social, and economic
data are not included, since this information is now easily available
through the Internet. However, electoral data are provided as usual.
The Election of the President of the Republic: The Legacy of the Napolitano Presidency
This chapter describes the main events regarding the election of the president of the Republic and the legacy of Napolitano's presidency. The general elections of February 2013 resulted in political deadlock, with no party being able to form a government. In this context, the re-election of Napolitano was the key to finding a way to form a new government based on a “grand coalition” of opposing parties. This is the main reason why the presidential election stands out in importance in Italian politics in 2013. In his role as president, Napolitano focused on the necessity to achieve constitutional and political reforms through a widespread and solid agreement among disparate political forces, even if it meant breaking ideological taboos and overcoming vast political differences. This central achievement of Napolitano's new presidency adds to the legacy created in his preceding one.
The Elections of 2013: A Tsunami with No Winners
The Italian general elections held in February 2013 ended up in stalemate. The center-left coalition won the absolute majority of seats in the Chamber of Deputies but not in the Senate, making it impossible to form any homogeneous governing majority. In the end, the only available opstion to support the new cabinet was a “grand coalition” of parties from different political sides. This chapter analyzes this destabilizing outcome, taking into account a number of factors: the success of a new anti-establishment party, the Five Star Movement, which has become the largest party in the country; the significant loss of votes by the center-left and especially by the center-right, compared to the previous elections of 2008; the peculiar nature and functioning of the electoral system; the extraordinary level of vote shifts; the “new” electoral geography; the crisis of the bipolar setting; and the transformation of the party system.
A Fight to the Death: The Challenge of the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party's Reactions
James L. Newell
Gauging the effectiveness with which the challenge of the Five Star Movement (M5S) has been met by other parties, especially the Democratic Party (PD), is essential to understanding the evolution of both the M5S itself and the party system. In the case of the PD, the first strategy—attempting to co-opt the M5S—was partially successful in that its overtures to the M5S opened up significant internal divisions in Beppe Grillo's party. The second strategy—competing for votes—was more successful thanks to the superiority of the PD's organization on the ground. The third—diminishing the challenger's political resources—met with mixed success. The events surrounding the 2 October confidence motion and the election of Matteo Renzi as prime minister suggest that the fourth strategy—reinforcement of the party's own political resources—was deployed to good effect. The overall result was to contain the M5S's growth but leave the future uncertain.
The Italian Banking System: Banca Monte dei Paschi's Scandal and the Euro Area's Sovereign Debt Crisis
The financial woes experienced by the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) and by a handful of other Italian banks in which foundations have played a prominent role offer an opportunity to reflect on three interrelated topics. The first issue is the evolution of the Italian banking system and banking legislation over the past decades to explain the rather distinctive governance structure of these banks. The second issue is the unfolding of the sovereign debt crisis in the euro area, which set the broader context in which the MPS scandal and the subsequent financial troubles of other banks took place. The third issue is the main response of the European Union and euro area to the sovereign debt crisis, namely, the proposal to create an EU banking union, which in turn triggered strong supervisory actions by the Bank of Italy in preparation for the handover of banking supervision to the European Central Bank.
Italiani Anche Noi: Minister Kyenge, Children of Immigrants, and the Pathway to Citizenship Reform
Minister of Integration Cécile Kyenge, nominated in April 2013 and Italy's first black minister, has pushed for citizenship reform as the most important issue in her legislative agenda. This article provides an overview of Italian citizenship law and reform attempts, including the many draft legislations presented to Parliament in 2013. No comprehensive reform passed in 2013, due in large part to the fragile “grand coalition” between the Democratic Party and the People of Freedom party. Minister Kyenge's vocal support, a growing public consensus and municipal support, and a new governing coalition as of November 2013—all this points to a greater potential for comprehensive reform to pass in 2014.
The Letta Cabinet(s): Government Formation and (In)stability in Times of Crisis—a Spatial Approach
Andrea Ceron and Luigi Curini
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.
Neither First Nor Second Order: The 2013 Regional and Local Elections
Emanuele Massetti and Giulia Sandri
In 2013, Italian voters were called to the ballot boxes not only to renew Parliament but also to elect about 600 local councils. In several cases, serious political scandals had led to early elections. An analysis of electoral supply, campaigns, and results suggests the emergence of an ambivalent pattern: on the one hand, regional and local elections appear to be “second order” if we look at the level of turnout; on the other hand, they appear to be “first order” if we look at party/coalition preferences. Except in highly regionalized party systems (e.g., in Valle d'Aosta, Alto Adige/Südtirol, and Trentino), mainstream parties/coalitions performed better in regional/local elections than in the national election. The victory of the center-left coalition and the bipolar dynamic of competition appeared to be stronger at the sub-national level than at the national one.
Not Just Berlusconi: Balances, Counterbalances, and Media in the Relationship between Justice and Politics
This chapter focuses on the relationships between politics, justice, and the media. Italian politics has had an unusual interaction with the justice system, channeled and amplified by the media over the last 20 years or so. In particular, this chapter analyzes the Supreme Court of Cassation's ruling that convicted Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud. The interpretation of this event is framed in a broader context, namely, the system of inter-institutional accountability of the Italian political system as it has been transformed during the last two decades. Particular attention is devoted to the weaknesses within this system that seem to allow room to maneuver for those institutions charged with oversight, among which courts are of the utmost importance.