Presidents and Prime Ministers

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

parties may be evident, such disagreements have never led the ministers to vote against the government. Parliament, meanwhile, is occupied mainly with passing laws--in one year it passes four times as many laws as does the British Parliament. Policy discussions occur infrequently and parliamentary control of the activity and results of government action is almost nonexistent.


Conclusion

Italy's system of government can be said to be written on water, for it is a highly fluid system. This feature is, perhaps, its principal strength, even though some lament that the organization envisaged by the constitution has failed to work out in practice, with respect to the organization of the Premiership, the determination of the number of ministers, or the assignment of responsibilities and organization of the ministries. The standard historical work on the Premiership has observed that "Generally, the subject of the definition of the Premier and also that of the organization of the Premiership, are brought up during situations marked by the political weakness of the Premier in office."39

The system has obvious weaknesses, the first of which derives from the fact that the leadership exercised is more the result of mediation among factions, pressure groups, and parties, than the result of elaboration, promotion, and planning by responsible and expert ministry officials. There is an insufficient collection and circulation of data, an absence of policy analysis, and a lack of persons and offices capable of formulating and comparing policies. The inadequacy of information is illustrated by the still relevant 1951 experience of De Gaspari, who "wanted to create a statistical office, to publish data collected every two weeks, in order to involve all the ministries concerned through the publicity given to documents and fulfillments of obligations. Opposition from all the ministries soon caused the initiative to be dropped."40 The Italian system is more suited to reaching agreement about problems as they gradually emerge than to ensuring positive guidance and direction. Consequently, coordination has been replaced by institutionalized political bargaining, of which the interministerial committees, in particular, are an expression. The number of committees was high before the 1960s and since then has been reduced only slightly. In the economic sector alone there have been committees for the nationalized electricity corporation, for state

____________________
39
Rotelli, La Presidenza, p. 452.
40
Andreotti, De Gasperi, p. 431.

-201-

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