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Maurizio Cotta

Apart from the event itself, the formation of the second Berlusconi

government is, from a wider perspective, replete with interesting

elements. It facilitates a better understanding of where the transformation

process of the Italian political system stands about 10

years after the crisis of the 1990s. The theme of government – its

process of formation and completion, as well as its political basis

and operational capacity – is of obvious importance. The ‘First

Republic’ was predominantly characterised by the way government

was produced (and how it consequently functioned). It is no coincidence

that the debate on institutional reform that began in the

1980s targeted the issue of government and the need for reform.

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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.