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David Hine and Chris Hanretty

The coalition crisis of April 2005 was the first and only one in the Parliament

elected in 2001. One of Berlusconi’s chief political goals had

been to survive the entire legislature. He fell short by only a year, and

he survived as prime minister for the full five years. The interpretation

of this crisis is therefore complex. In one light it can be seen as

the inevitable outcome of a series of tensions that had built up over

the preceding two years within an increasingly divided and unsuccessful

government. In another it can be seen as a temporary hiatus in

what was essentially a governo di legislatura of a new type. Certainly,

even after his formal resignation and a new investiture, Berlusconi’s

efforts to minimize the significance of the crisis had some justification.

Despite being forced to resign and face a formal coalition crisis, neither

his leadership nor his government was destroyed, as the crises of 1998

and 1999–2000 destroyed Romano Prodi and Massimo D’Alema.

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Chris Hanretty and Alex Wilson

Writing in this annual two years ago, Marc Lazar discussed the birth of

the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party). Like many births, that of

the PD was characterized by trepidation and optimism in similar doses.

Yet the party was in government and had, in Walter Veltroni, a leader

who was backed by an overwhelming majority of party sympathizers.

Two years later, the PD is in much poorer health. It is now out of government,

has performed badly in sub-national and European elections, and

has a new leader, Pierluigi Bersani, who does not command the support

of an overwhelming majority and may indeed antagonize some of the

party’s right-leaning members. The PD is either a sickly child or, in the

recent judgment of Francesco Rutelli, was never actually born at all.

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Chris Hanretty and Stefania Profeti

In the summer of 2010, in an interview given to the newspaper La Repubblica, the then little-known mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, erupted onto the political scene by claiming that it was time for the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party) to take a large number of the party’s leading figures to task—or, to use the phrase that would

soon become a battle cry, to “bulldoze” (rottamare) them from the picture. The interview was considered by many in the party to be arrogant and excessively self-aggrandizing—or at least incautious. Yet from that moment on, and probably thanks to this message, Renzi has been able to capture to an ever-greater degree the dissatisfaction and frustrations of a large number of center-left activists and sympathizers, while attracting the curiosity of a large number of Italians of all political persuasions.