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Gianfranco Baldini

One of the consequences of the dissolution of Parliament at the beginning

of February 2008 and the announcement of a general election to

be held two months later on 13 and 14 April was the postponement

for a year of the referendum on the electoral law. A few weeks earlier,

on 16 January, the Constitutional Court had given its approval to three

referendum questions designed to abrogate several parts of the electoral

law that had been passed by the Italian Parliament in 2005. We

can better understand how this latest referendum initiative influenced

Italian politics over the course of 2007 if we take a long-term view of

the importance of electoral laws and referendums in the country.

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Gianfranco Baldini and Alan Renwick

The topic of electoral reform, a recurring feature of the Italian political agenda, resurfaced in 2014. At the start of the year, a ruling by the Constitutional Court returned the country to a proportional system, similar to the one in place during the First Republic. This chapter examines the key political responses to that ruling and how the decision has spurred further electoral reforms, resulting in the most majoritarian system in Italy's democratic history.

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Gianfranco Baldini and Guido Legnante

On 29 November and 13 December 1998, elections were held for

the renewal of fifty-eight municipal councils in towns comprising

more than 15,000 inhabitants, as well as of four provincial administrations.

The feature that most caught the attention of politicians

and commentators, apart from changes in the political balance of

the coalitions, was the turnout for these elections. For the first time

in the electoral history of republican Italy, non-voters in the provincial

elections in some cases amounted to more than 50 percent of

the electorate. Largely blamed for this fall in electoral participation

was the frequency with which voters had been recently called to

the polling booths; and this accelerated the process of modifying

the law on the direct election of the mayor, it being proposed,

amongst other things, that all the administrative elections should

be combined into a single annual round of voting.

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Gianfranco Baldini and Salvatore Vassallo

In the sessions of 10 and 12 November 1999, an ample majority of

both Chambers of Parliament approved the second deliberation of

the reform of articles 121, 122, 123 and 126 of the Constitution (491

votes in favour in the Chamber and 236 in the Senate). The principle

of direct election of regional presidents was thus introduced,

and the regions were given the power to determine their own form

of government. This is the initial result of the long effort to move

towards a federal constitution. Note too that the reform does not

modify the electoral system, whose first changes occurred in 1995.

Even so, it has set into motion processes that promise to influence

the stability of regional governments, the dynamics of political

competition, the structure of political careers, and the evolution of

relations between the center and the periphery.

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Gianfranco Baldini and Guido Legnante

“Alarm bell” and “wake-up call” for the center-right. And again,

“north wind” and “settling of scores” for the center-left. These are

just some of the descriptions used to analyze the ballot results of the

local government elections held on 9 and 10 June. While the first

round of voting on 26 and 27 May appeared to show votes equally

distributed between the two coalitions, the second ballot seemed to

indicate the victory of the opposition, as a greater number of centerleft

mayors were elected in the various municipalities. This interpretation

was consolidated in the opinions of the political players

involved. In fact, in the fall of that year, Piero Fassino, general secretary

of the Democrats of the Left (DS), commented on the election

results as follows: “We won not only where we had extensive support,

but also in center-right strongholds, where we attracted voters

from the center-right.”

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Gianfranco Baldini and Anna Cento Bull

In 2008, Silvio Berlusconi returned to power in Italy, thanks to a decisive

electoral victory, with a slimmer, more manageable coalition and

a government hinging on a group of ministers who were very close to

him. The previous year had ended under the banner of anti-politics

and, more specifically, of widespread mistrust of a government seen

as too quarrelsome and paralyzed by a crossfire of vetoes. It had also

been the year of La Casta (The Caste), the successful book by Sergio

Rizzo and Gianantonio Stella, which implacably denounced wasteful

spending in Italian politics, as well as the campaigns by Beppo Grillo,

which acted upon, and in turn fueled, a climate of deep resentment

toward politics.