Italian Politics: The Second Berlusconi Government

Italian Politics: The Second Berlusconi Government

Italian Politics: The Second Berlusconi Government

Italian Politics: The Second Berlusconi Government

Synopsis

In 2002, the second Berlusconi government, given its parliamentary strength, should have been able to implement its ambitious reform program. This 18th edition of Italian Politics examines the events of that year in light of the opportunities and the domestic and international constraints faced by Italy's center-right government. This volume discusses the actions of the Italian president, the prime minister's function within the cabinet, the overall behaviour of the government vis-á-vis Parliament, majority-opposition clashes in the legislature, foreign affairs, and economic and immigration policy. Moreover, the volume focuses on selected heated issues, including Berlusconi's conflict with the judiciary, reform of the labor market, evolution of banking foundations, and the crisis of Fiat, the nation's largest manufacturing group.

Excerpt

Jean Blondel and Paolo Segatti

The year 2002 was expected to be an epoch-making year for Italian politics. It was to be the first occasion to gauge whether things had really changed since the “First Republic.” Between the end of that “classical” regime in the early 1990s and the year 2001, some aspects of politics had indeed altered, but the depth and durability of the move to a new type of behavior was still at best uncertain. Polarization between right and left had occurred, with the center squeezed in between. That was new, at least ostensibly, but the shape that governments were taking did not provide clear signs of transformation. On the one hand, much had been transitional, as with the several “technical” or “semi-technical” cabinets. On the other hand, much was old hat: a center-right “majoritarian” coalition had fallen after only six months in 1994—not a good omen for the stability of the “new” politics. Developments during the 1996–2001 legislature reflected even more a sense of déjà vu. With the president of the republic refusing to dissolve Parliament, preferring instead to see the victor of the 1996 election, Romano Prodi—a leader without a party at his disposal, to be sure—defeated by his own side, two other prime ministers (and three cabinets) followed each other in less than three years. This scarcely was in keeping with the goals of the “new” politics.

With the election of the spring of 2001, on the other hand, a sea change seemed to have taken place: the coalition led by Silvio . . .

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