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Donatella della Porta, Salvatore Sberna, and Alberto Vannucci

This chapter examines two episodes of large-scale corruption that erupted in 2014: the procurements process for the MOSE tidal barrier project, which is intended to surround and protect Venice, and the contracts signed in the run-up to Expo 2015 in Milan. The chapter shows how networks of corruption have survived the “clean hands” scandal of the early 1990s and thrive in a world of neo-liberal policies that promote privatization, deregulation, and liberalization. These policies have not led to a reduction in corruption; rather, they have shifted governance structures toward private figures who, in the name of the free market, often end up with better opportunities to corrupt or to be corrupted.

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Rinaldo Vignati

January

1 Fiat announces the 100 percent acquisition of Chrysler.

2 In a letter to the other political leaders, Matteo Renzi, the secretary of the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party), presents three proposals for electoral reform: a revamped Mattarellum electoral system, the Spanish system, and Sindaco d’Italia (Mayor of Italy).

4 Offended by a remark made by Renzi, Stefano Fassina (PD) resigns as vice-minister of the economy.

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Mattia Guidi

The rise of Matteo Renzi is one of the most significant political events of the year. This chapter analyzes Renzi's leadership of the Partito Democratico (PD), looking at both the internal politics of the party and the party's position within the Italian party system. Within the PD itself, Renzi has brought take-it-or-leave-it proposals to the party executive, which has upset a vocal minority. More broadly, Renzi has moved the party to the center on the left-right scale, while adopting a more expansionary fiscal stance, effectively marginalizing other parties. The chapter concludes that the most serious opposition to Renzi today may come from within his own party.

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Asher D. Colombo and Luigi La Fauci

In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights found that the conditions inside Italian prisons were so bad, they amounted to inhuman and/or degrading punishment. Since that time, the Italian government has attempted to reduce overcrowding inside prisons. This chapter shows that most of the reduction in overcrowding has not been the result of amnesties, pardons, or other forms of early release, such as electronic tagging. Rather, it is the result of changes that have decreased the number of individuals entering prison, in particular prisoners on remand and those awaiting final sentencing.

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Valentina Sartori

The documentary appendix is intended to provide the reader with an overview of the results of the various elections that took place in 2014, which constitute the background of the events analyzed in this volume.

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Edoardo Bressanelli

The European elections of May 2014 proved to be a key trial run for several actors within the Italian party system. Academic literature on these elections has often viewed European Parliament elections as “second-order” elections, that is, as expressions of opinion on the incumbent national government. This chapter analyzes whether this model still applies. It shows that the European Parliament elections were an unusual form of second-order election, in that they allowed voters to reward the Renzi government, which was still enjoying a honeymoon period.

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Carolyn Forestiere

The Renzi government formed in February 2014 was the youngest cabinet in Italian post-war history. It also had an equal number of male and female ministers—a first in Italian history. This chapter sets the scene by recounting the end of the Letta government before moving on to analyze the formation of the Renzi Cabinet, the competing inter- and intra-party considerations that affected the choice of ministers, and the need to signal technical competence in key economic roles.

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Marco Brunazzo

On 1 July 2014, Italy took over the rotating six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union. Expectations for the Italian presidency were high. This chapter argues that these expectations were always unrealistic, as the Italian presidency had to deal with the fallout of the European Parliament elections. Nevertheless, Italy managed to pursue its interests by securing important nominations to the European Commission, pushing the EU to do more on migration policy, and encouraging moves to foster greater investment at the European level.