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.
Vincenzo Emanuele and Nicola Maggini
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.
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.
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.
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.
Volunteering and Civil Society in Czech Health Care
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.
Neoliberal industrialization and the politics of land and work in rural West Bengal
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.
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.
Comparative silences in British stories of genetic modification
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.
Local Society and Train Transport in Zhejiang Province in the 1930s
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.