In 2015, Italy’s foreign policy was focused on issues that were linked to the attempt to boost Italy’s international reputation: the Libyan question, the migration crisis, and Italy’s role in the European Union. As for the first two issues, the Renzi government has sought to “Europeanize” them, with the aim of not being “left alone” in dealing with their consequences. The third issue concerns Renzi’s effort to gain fiscal flexibility and “change the course” of the European Union. However, in Europe the prime minister has found himself isolated and has struggled to lead coalitions on issues that are very relevant for the national interest. The assessment of the Renzi government’s action in foreign policy in 2015, ultimately, can be read in two ways: if it is evaluated against announcements, expectations, and demands of the prime minister, the result is disappointing; if it is measured in a more realistic fashion, the appraisal can be less harsh.
Vittorio Emanuele Parsi
In February 2007, after less than a year in office, Prime Minister
Romano Prodi offered his resignation to the president of the Republic,
Giorgio Napolitano, after his government lost a vote in the Senate.
The motion outlined Italy’s foreign policy in fairly broad terms and
would not have been critical if the opposition, the radical left, and
Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema himself had not made it into a test
for the whole government. On the morning of the vote, D’Alema had
said, “If we don’t have a majority, then it’s time to call it a day.” As it
turned out, 158 senators voted in favor of the motion and 136 against,
with 24 abstention. Since the rules of the Senate count abstentions as
“no’s,” the motion failed, and Prodi tendered his resignation.
German foreign policy operates in a strategic triangle, the corner points of which are Bonn, Paris, and Washington. This constellation dates to the end of World War II. Since that time, German foreign policy has been influenced by this strategic triangle, which provides for
political opportunities as well as for significant risks. It relies on the interdependence of German-American, German-French, and French-American relations.
Filippo Andreatta and Elisabetta Brighi
Italian foreign policy has always been greatly influenced by the country’s
domestic politics. Certain important historical processes have
made it considerably difficult to separate the country’s external representation
from its domestic political equilibria. This state of affairs
has had a considerable bearing on Italy’s international standing,
which has been inhibited and therefore weakened as a result. The
country’s fragile national tradition, the legacy of a ruinous dictatorship,
and, in particular, the instability of the government, which
underlies the very nature of the proportional electoral system—
together with the existence of the largest communist party outside
the Soviet bloc—have hindered the formation of a bipartisan consensus
and of a foreign policy free from domestic pressures.
Katy A. Crossley-Frolick
Since the end of the Cold War, Germany has assumed a greater profile in addressing global security concerns. This article analyzes the evolution of Germany's approach to peacebuilding in the post Cold War era. It argues that while Germany could play a unique and important role in such missions, it has largely demurred. The muted quality of German leadership in international peacebuilding reveals a foreign policy role identity that remains circumscribed by a culture of restraint (Kultur der Zurückhaltung). From a constructivist perspective, this “culture of restraint” acts as a cognitive map for political leaders and policy makers, privileging a set of norms that guide policy-making. Peacebuilding missions present opportunities for Germany to operationalize the most fundamental tenets undergirding Germany's postwar foreign policy identity: the preference to cooperate with other states through multilateral institutions, the use of economic instruments to obtain foreign policy goals, and support for supranational institutions to address global problems. But such opportunities are not seized due to the absence of political elite consensus, inter-party, and inter-ministerial dissensus, institutional fragmentation and insufficient material support for international peacebuilding endeavors.
In this paper I examine the use of the concept of "normality" in debates about German foreign policy since unification. In the early 1990s, left-wing intellectuals such as Jürgen Habermas tended to criticize the idea of "normality" in favor of a form of German exceptionalism based on responsibility for the Nazi past. A foreign policy based on the idea of "normality" was associated above all with the greater use of military force, which the right advocated and the left opposed. Thus, "normality" became a synonym for Bündnisfähigkeit. Yet, from the mid 1990s onwards, some Social Democrats such as Egon Bahr began to use the concept of "normality" to refer instead to a foreign policy based on sovereignty and the pursuit of national interests. Although a consensus has now emerged in Germany around this realist definition of foreign-policy "normality," it is inadequate to capture the complex shift in the foreign policy of the Federal Republic since unification.
Foreign policy issues did not play a decisive role in the German general election campaign of 2009. While Chancellor Angela Merkel conducted a decidedly presidential campaign, her main rival, SPD Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, found it difficult to break out of his role as Merkel's partner in the Grand Coalition the two had led for four years. This was especially true with respect to issues on foreign policy, where both candidates had cooperated rather smoothly. Neither the issue of Afghanistan (despite the hotly debated Kunduz airstrike), nor the unresolved issues of the future of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty could antagonize the main political protagonists in Germany. The overwhelming foreign policy consensus among the mainstream political forces remained intact. Nevertheless, the changing international landscape and increased German responsibilities abroad will turn foreign policy into a relevant campaign issue, probably as early as 2013, when, presumably, the next Bundestag elections will be held.
Jeffrey Anderson, German Unification and the Union of Europe (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999)
Thomas Banchoff, The German Problem Transformed: Institutions, Politics and Foreign Policy, 1945-1995 (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1999)
When German foreign policy is being described, a reference to multilateralism
is rarely ever omitted. Together with Westbindung, restraint
in using military force, and a trading-state orientation, Germany’s
preference for multilateral settings is recognized as one of the central
elements of its foreign policy. In recent years, a number of studies
have shown that, in contrast to realist expectations from the early
1990s, the more powerful unified Germany has continued to embrace
this multilateralism. This applies to Germany’s willingness to bind
itself to NATO and other European and Euro-Atlantic security institutions,
1 to Germany’s policy within and vis-à-vis the EU,2 and to its
foreign policy on a global scale.
Wolf-Dieter Eberwein and Karl Kaiser, Germany’s New Foreign Policy: Decision-Making in an Independent World (Hampshire: Palgrave, 2001)
Adrian Hyde-Price, Germany & European Order: Enlarging NATO and the EU (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000)
Matthias Kaelberer, Money and Power in Europe: The Political Economy of European Monetary Cooperation (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001)