It is difficult to tell a story pretending not to know how it ends. This volume
is concerned with the political and politico-economic events that
took place in Italy during the course of 2007, but in reality it is implicitly
the story of an aborted legislature, the fifteenth in the Republic’s history,
which began in April 2006 and ended prematurely in January 2008.
Perhaps in anticipation of this outcome, the year 2007 was permeated
by a sense of deep political malaise. The government of Romano Prodi,
despite having been in office since only May 2006, and despite its reasonably
effective management of the economy, was weak and unpopular.
Its frailty was rooted, most immediately, in the election outcome,
which gave it a majority of just two in the Senate, and that outcome in
turn resulted in large part from the effects of the electoral system reform
introduced by the center-right government in December 2005. The purpose
of that reform—or counter-reform, as some prefer to call it—was to
minimize the scale of the government’s expected defeat or, reversing the
perspective, to render the center-left’s victory as marginal as possible.