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Chiara Goretti and Luca Rizzuto

The short, albeit intense, history of spending review in Italy ranks it as a primary tool of fiscal consolidation on the expenditure side. This chapter highlights the plurality of meanings given to the term “spending review” (SR), which include, on the one hand, analyses and procedures linked to the search for efficiency in the production of public services and, on the other hand, the reprioritization of public action and expenditure programs in light of the new, stricter budget constraints. In the Italian public debate, the introduction of SR procedures is closely related to the wider frame of budgetary and public management reforms that have been under way for a long time, yet are not fully implemented. The chapter analyzes the link between SR (whatever meaning it may have in Italy) and the comprehensive fiscal discipline that is required in the new European framework.

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Anna Cento Bull

This chapter examines the consequences of the financial scandal that engulfed the Northern League's inner circle—the so-called Magic Circle—made up of the party's leader Umberto Bossi, his family, and their most trusted friends. At the political level, the scandal brought to the fore a fight for the party's leadership, pitting Bossi against Roberto Maroni, the former minister of the interior, which ended with a clear victory for Maroni. At the electoral level, the party suffered a heavy defeat in the May 2012 local administrative elections, despite its opposition to the austerity measures introduced by the new Monti government. This chapter analyzes the significance of Maroni's victory in terms of the League's political style and policies. It also addresses the question of whether this party can once again reinvent itself and regain the support of the electorate in the North.

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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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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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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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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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Notes on contributors

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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..