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Luca Verzichelli

Although the end of voting on the night of 13 May 2001 was not

accompanied by the same agonising wait that had preceded the

victory of the Ulivo (Olive Tree Coalition) five years earlier, it was

undoubtedly agitated. The margin of advantage that the exit poll

assured the Casa delle Libertà (CDL, House of Freedoms) constituted

a sufficient guarantee to go out on the streets or go to bed

with a reasonable certainty of finding a majoritarian parliament a

few weeks later, this meaning a considerable increase in terms of

seats following the superiority of votes already secured by the centre

right coalition.

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Maurizio Cotta and Luca Verzichelli

An assessment of the second Berlusconi government in 2002, quite

predictably, holds considerable interest for a number of reasons. The

hopes pinned on this government, which is unusual in the history of

Italian politics, call for such a review. To begin with, this is the first

republican government characterized by the introduction of the

majority vote system to choose both the ruling coalition and the

prime minister. Secondly, cabinet ministers represent all components

of the electoral majority and can also count on a rather reassuring

advantage in terms of the seats they hold both in the Chamber of

Deputies and in the Senate. Finally, in a radically reshuffled political

structure following the events of the 1990s, the comeback of a player

(who may be identified as Prime Minister Berlusconi as well as the

center-right majority) whose government had failed the first time

around could be profitably analyzed in terms of institutional learning

and of the establishment of a new bipolar/majoritarian order.

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Grant Amyot and Luca Verzichelli

Any observer of the Italian political situation will likely agree that

2005 was yet another transition year, dominated by mostly predictable

facts and events. However, a series of factors reveals the imponderable,

and somewhat fortuitous, nature of political change in Italy

during a period certainly pervaded by the expectation of impending

events but also not altogether lacking in critical situations and noteworthy


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Stefano Braghiroli and Luca Verzichelli

Looking through a chronology of 2010, it is objectively difficult to find

one event that brings the two center-left parties represented in Parliament

into the center of the Italian political debate as leading players.

In spite of the obvious and growing difficulties for the government

majority—with Silvio Berlusconi’s leadership looking seriously shaky,

possibly for the first time since 1994—the opposition parties have not

seemed able to develop sufficient synergies and strategies to convince

public opinion of the existence of a credible alternative government.

Only one and a half years after the elections that had given the newly

born Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party) and its then coalition

partner, Antonio Di Pietro’s Italia dei Valori (IdV, Italy of Values), the

responsibility of being a real alternative to the powerful Berlusconiled

center-right, the political picture looked radically changed, but the

path ahead of the two parties appeared to be even more hazardous.