In 2014, Italian local government was affected by two key events: the passage of the Delrio law, which drastically reforms areabased government (i.e., provinces, municipal unions, and metropolitan cities) in the expectation that future constitutional reform will eliminate provinces entirely, and the rationalization program drawn up by Carlo Cottarelli, the special commissioner for the review of expenditure, which has profoundly affected the role of local authorities in owning and operating public utilities companies. This chapter traces the processes that led to these two reforms and, in doing so, elucidates the factors that motivated each reform.
Sonia Bussu and Maria Tullia Galanti
Chiara Goretti and Luca Rizzuto
The short, albeit intense, history of spending review in Italy ranks it as a primary tool of fiscal consolidation on the expenditure side. This chapter highlights the plurality of meanings given to the term “spending review” (SR), which include, on the one hand, analyses and procedures linked to the search for efficiency in the production of public services and, on the other hand, the reprioritization of public action and expenditure programs in light of the new, stricter budget constraints. In the Italian public debate, the introduction of SR procedures is closely related to the wider frame of budgetary and public management reforms that have been under way for a long time, yet are not fully implemented. The chapter analyzes the link between SR (whatever meaning it may have in Italy) and the comprehensive fiscal discipline that is required in the new European framework.
Frontier Wars, Public Debt and the Cape’s Non-racial Constitution
This article seeks to enhance the historiography of the Eastern Cape frontier wars by adding war profiteering to land hunger as a motive for settler militancy. Equally important however was the extent to which the exorbitant military expenditure of the Eighth Frontier War (1850–3) aroused the concern of the British Treasury, and drew their attention to the corrupt practices of Colonial Secretary John Montagu, the de facto head of the Cape government. This was precisely the period during which the Cape franchise was under review at the Colonial office, and the article concludes by showing that imperial intervention in favour of a broader more inclusive franchise was due less to democratic concerns than to its desire to put a brake on the Cape’s burgeoning public debt.
Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella
In this chapter, the efforts of the Italian ruling class to cut the costs of politics during 2012 are analyzed. An informal division of labor was established between Monti's executive, which was to take care of budgetary problems, and the Parliament, which was supposed to tackle the frequent scandals of corruption and public money mismanagement. The results of the latter's efforts were amply (and predictably) disappointing, justifying once more the low levels of trust that citizens display toward politicians. In particular, we consider five points: the expenditure cuts by the constitutional bodies, the failure to reduce the number of MPs, the effort to cut back on the public funding of political parties, the “anarchy” of regional expenditures, and the inability to decide about the abolition of provincial government.
Economics and finance ministries are among the most important
departments of modern governments. Their overall purpose is to
plan, finance, and co-ordinate public expenditure along a sustainable
long-term trajectory. That role has several dimensions: assessing
departmental spending proposals; ensuring that spending delivers
value; delivering financial resources to meet spending; maintaining
a sustainable balance between fiscal revenues, asset disposals, and
borrowing; managing financial flows across a fiscal year; and ensuring
that these processes are compatible with sectoral policies and
with overall economic targets. The authority to do all this depends
on complex factors: the political backing the ministry gets from other
parts of the government from the prime minister down; the status of
the minister in charge; the compliance of the legislature and of subnational
authorities; the effectiveness of the fiscal, forecasting, authorization,
and inspection machinery; and the ministry’s own capacity
to develop, modernize, and improve the planning and management of
public expenditure programs generally.
The unwieldy career of a Swedish rail tunnel project
Large-scale technological projects are born as visions among politicians and leaders of industry. For such visions to become real, they must be transformed from a virtual existence in the minds of their creators to a reality that can be accepted, even welcomed, by the public, not least by the communities who will become neighbors to those projects. Democracy implies that political decisions over the expenditure of public funds should answer not merely to the partial interests of stakeholders but should be accountable to the 'greater good' of society at large. Since a technological project materializes in what Latour calls a 'variable ontology-world', the greater good associated with it can be expected to be dynamic and shifting. The Hallandsås railway tunnel in southwestern Sweden illustrates how the very premises of the project's organizational logic have changed over time, the discourse of the greater good moving from an economical focus to an environmental one.
From Evidence to Explanations
After the Second World War, the view that people of every nation would be entitled to experience rising standards of living pervaded all corners of the globe. Convergence was seen as a positive way of achieving a Golden Age and a peaceful and affluent utopia, through modernisation and technical progress. Within this general belief, the development of national social welfare systems in Europe in the postwar period appears to be the outcome of autonomous national processes. The construction of Europe, which imposed common rules in many areas, was nonetheless consistent with the national development of social welfare systems within each national culture. The idea of a common system of social protection has always been linked to European political and economic construction, which was expected to create a more cohesive society. Reference is made constantly to convergence as a catching-up process in the comparative evaluation of national social policies, but the implementation of an ambitious European system of social protection and the creation of harmonised national welfare systems have always proved to be impossible. The paper focuses on two specific topics. Firstly, it examines attempts to quantify convergence among EU and OECD countries at the macro-economic level, using social indicators to assess the convergence or divergence of social expenditure. The evidence of convergence is shown to be ambiguous due to a number of methodological problems. Secondly, two main interpretations of convergence are examined: economic forces and legal frameworks. The paper shows that the analysis of national trajectories of social expenditure and the link with economic development can enrich the analysis of convergence or divergence in social protection. Even if the maturation or reform of national social policies explains the origins of increases in social expenditure, macro-economic pressures, or constraints (globalisation, Single Market), on public expenditure can fuel certain type of convergence. In all the developed countries, social welfare systems are based on national legal frameworks. A goal of social Europe is not only to work towards European solidarity but also to build common social rights throughout Europe. Convergence of national social welfare systems can, therefore, be interpreted as a component in a general process of convergence in law within the developed countries, especially within Europe. However, common explanations of convergence in social welfare systems often neglect elements of divergence. They, therefore, conceal the complexity of the process and very often underestimate the full extent of divergence.
On 24 July 2009, in reaction to a ruling by the European Court of
Justice regarding the different retirement ages for men and women
in the public employment sector, the Italian government introduced
further “subtractive” (or consolidating) reforms to the pension sector
(after the series of measures that were adopted starting in 1992), in
order to equilibrate the conditions of access to retirement between
the two sexes. At the same time, the saving in expenditure obtained
through pension reform was directed to the social assistance sector,
traditionally atrophied in Italy and even today very undeveloped in
comparative perspective. This is of particular interest in light of the
noteworthy, and anomalous, imbalance of the Italian welfare state to
the benefit of the retirement system for the protection of the el