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Vincenzo Emanuele and Nicola Maggini

The importance of the 2016 municipal elections in Italy was a consequence not only of the number and relevance of the cities involved, including Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin, but also of their timing, occurring in the middle of the 2013–2018 electoral cycle. These elections were thus perceived as a mid-term test for the national government, acquiring a relevance that went beyond their specific local context. This chapter analyzes the electoral supply, voter turnout, electoral results, and vote shifts, focusing on a synchronic and diachronic comparison of the performance of the candidates and the parties. The evidence presented shows that despite winning the plurality of municipalities, the Democratic Party clearly paid the cost of ruling at the national level. The number of its mayors was halved, and it was defeated in Rome and Turin by the Five Star Movement, the true winner of these elections.

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Philip Daniels

The fifth elections to the European Parliament were held in Italy on

13 June 1999 against a background of domestic political turbulence.

The centre-left government of Massimo D’Alema, which had

taken office in October 1998, was inherently tenuous, based as it

was on a broad, multi-party majority including several MPs who

had been elected with the opposition centre-right coalition in the

1996 national elections. At the same time, the party system was

still highly fluid: new parties and political formations were entering

the electoral arena and party identities and electoral alliances

were characterised by instability. This turbulence in the party system

was manifest in the 1999 European elections in which twentysix

parties and movements presented lists, many contesting

European elections for the first time. In contrast to the majoritarian

mechanisms used in national parliamentary and local elections,

the proportional electoral system used for European elections, with

its relatively low threshold for representation, encourages the proliferation

of party lists and offers few incentives for the parties to

form electoral alliances.

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Guido Legnante

On 25–26 May 2003, voters in Valle d’Aosta, 12 provinces (including

Rome), and 93 of the 600 local governments selected with a two-ballot

system (including 9 of the 103 provincial capitals) were called to

the polls. A fortnight later, regional elections were held in Friuli-

Venezia Giulia and 3 other provincial capitals. On 26 October, elections

were held in the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano.

The elections in the spring involved more than 12 million voters and

the following autumn, another 800,000 in Trentino-Alto Adige.

Although the number of voters was not insignificant, the 2003 elections

were nonetheless partial. The regions and autonomous provinces

called to the polls were exclusively in the North, while the local

and provincial polls were over-representative of the South (especially

Sicily) and under-representative of the “Red” areas of the country.

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Mita Marra

In the last two years, a new period of reform has charged the Italian

public administration system with three principal objectives: modernizing

its organizational structure at the national and local levels,

reorganizing public employment, and improving the services rendered

by public institutions. To this end, the year 2009 signaled the initial

intensification of policies promoted by Minister Renato Brunetta—initiatives

that had been in the developmental stages in 2008. The reform

spirit of the government has given life to a first series of measures that

are urgently needed to remedy some of the most evident and critical

weaknesses in the public apparatus, such as absenteeism. At the same

time, these initiatives have been accompanied by the definition of the

principles and boundaries that will guide the process, as provided for

in Law No. 15 of 2009. This law came about in response to Legislative

Decree No. 150/2009, regarding the reorganization of public employment

and collective bargaining in the public sector.

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Acts of Assistance

Navigating the Interstices of the British State with the Help of Non-profit Legal Advisers

Alice Forbess and Deborah James

This article explores everyday interactions with the British welfare state at a moment when it is attempting to shift and transform its funding regimes. Based on a study of two London legal services providers, it draws attention to a set of actors poised between local state officers and citizens: the advisers who carry out the work of translation, helping people to actualize their rights and, at the same time, forcing disparate state agencies to work together. Advice and government services providers are increasingly part of the same system, yet advisers' work runs counter to the state's aims when formal legal process is used to challenge unfair legislation. The article reveals that ever more complex, vague, and idiosyncratic interconnections between state, business, and the third sector are emerging in the field of public services.

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Images of Care, Boundaries of the State

Volunteering and Civil Society in Czech Health Care

Rosie Read

This article examines how boundaries of the state are negotiated and projected in Czech health care volunteering. Hospital regimes and the professional care provided by doctors and nurses are widely imagined as a domain of intensified state authority, a legacy of state socialism. I explore attempts by NGO actors, hospitals, and local government officials involved in three Czech volunteer programs to create alternative, non-medicalized forms of patient care as civil society, thereby reproducing the boundary between state and non-state that characterized civil society discourses of the 1990s in the region. Yet unlike those discourses and the anthropological analyses they have informed, this process of boundary making does not constitute the state and civil society as inevitably antagonistic or competitive entities.

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"Who wants to marry a farmer?"

Neoliberal industrialization and the politics of land and work in rural West Bengal

Sarasij Majumder

This article seeks to understand why both anti-land acquisition protests and proindustrial rhetoric of provincial governments in India are fodder for populist politics. To understand this, the article explores the meanings that land and development have for the rural communities in West Bengal, India, who are trying to straddle the multiple worlds of farm ownership and nonfarm employment. Based on five years of ethnographic fieldwork in various parts of rural West Bengal, this article argues that resistances to corporate globalization, taken to be unambiguously anti-industrial or anticapitalist, reflect complex intentions. Protesting villagers are ambivalent toward corporate capital, but their support for industries and protests against corporations are grounded in local moral worlds that see both nonfarm work and landownership as markers of critical social distinction.

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Catherine Alexander

This article focuses on controversial plans by the government to rebuild Aisha Bibi, a small, crumbling mausoleum in southeastern Kazakhstan, and thereby hitch its symbolic potency to the nationalist drive. There has never been one commonly accepted account of the building in terms of when and by whom it was created. Nonetheless, it has long been a site of pilgrimage for many different groups and, since the Soviet period, a source of scientific interest. Plans to construct a replica building have brought the multitude of previously co-existing narratives into sharp relief as the new version threatens to oust the others, effectively making one narrative claim exclude others. Further, as is the nature of all representations, the replica will halt and contain the unboundedness and perishability of the mausoleum which, for many local narratives, is an essential part of Aisha Bibi.

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Softly, softly

Comparative silences in British stories of genetic modification

Cathrine Degnen

Since the late 1990s genetically modified foods, crops, and products have provoked a great deal of controversy in Britain. This article does not challenge the presence of debate over genetic modification in Britain, but rather calls attention to public silences on genetic modification that have often been overlooked. Drawing on multi-sited fieldwork in two parts of the north of England, I explore the ways in which these silences were not equally present across both fieldsites. I argue that this is partly due to the intersection of local histories with the ideological framing of genetic modification by the British government as a question of and for scientific expertise. I also explore how silence on the topic may be a form of what Sheriff (2000) has termed ‘cultural censorship’. Finally, I discuss the theoretical and methodological difficulties of studying and writing about silence, proposing that silences can importantly highlight issues of political and social salience.

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The Firedrake

Local Society and Train Transport in Zhejiang Province in the 1930s

Ding Xianyong

The Hangzhou-Jiangshan railway across Zhejiang province was built in the early 1930s, connecting the mountainous interior to the coastal area. The construction in the context of military strategy enjoyed high government attention and was implemented with personnel and a workforce brought into the area. Drawing on literary writings, archival documents, and oral histories, this article traces the range of attitudes, reactions, and activities among the inhabitants of rural towns and villages in the area of Quzhou and Jinhua as well as migrants who had left for cities such as Shanghai and Hangzhou. The name “redrake” created by locals captures attitudes of mingled apprehension in the fact that a dragon, which is always associated with water, becomes a re-creature; curiosity and excitement in the association with dragon lantern processions; and practical usefulness in the closeness to the train that is literally a “re-vehicle” in Chinese.