Presidents and Prime Ministers

By Richard Rose; Ezra N. Suleiman | Go to book overview

5
Is There a Government in Italy?
Politics and Administration
at the Top

Sabino Cassese

The Italian case is particularly challenging to those seeking to understand the relationship between politics and administration at the top. Whereas in other European countries problems of government are said to be intensifying,1 Italy, according to recent studies by Percy A. Allum and by Giuseppe Di Palma,2 has reached the point of having no government at all. Di Palma suggests that political leaders cannot even agree on decision rules or the question of who is in charge. Another of Italy's problems is that the central government has to deal with most issues, even though regional government has been in existence since 1970. Few problems are solved at the local level because communes, provinces, and regions are weak; because Italy

____________________
1
See Richard Rose and Guy Peters, Can Government Go Bankrupt? ( New York: Basic Books, 1978), p. 4; and Richard Rose, "Governo e autorità nelle democrazie occidentali," Rivista Italiana di scienza politica, no. 2 ( 1978), p. 213 ff. Of the four important points explaining the crisis of "governability," only the second one (growing complexity of the organization of government institutions) is analyzed in this article.
2
Percy A. Allum, Italy: A Republic Without a Government ( London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1973), Italian translation: ( Milan: Feltrinelli, 1976). Giuseppe Di Palma , Surviving without Governing: The Italian Parties in Parliament ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), Italian translation: ( Bologna: Il Mulino, 1978).

More prudent is the judgment of Gianfranco Pasquino, "Recenti trasformazioni nel sistema di potere della democrazia cristiana," in Luigi Graziano and Sidney Tarrow , eds., La crisi italiana, vol. 2 ( Turin: Einaudi, 1979), p. 609 ff., which speaks of government "weakness" in Italy.

It should be pointed out that, while everyone speaks of Italy as a country without a government, Italians who know about government from firsthand experience are mute. There are no memoirs or biographies of politicians or of public administrators. It would be difficult in Italy to write a book such as the one by Bruce Headey, British Cabinet Ministers: The Roles of Politicians in Executive Office ( London: Allen and Unwin, 1974), which drew upon memoirs of ministers and civil servants.

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