Party Finance and
Party funding in Italy has only been regulated by law since 1974 (Bull, 1997; Ciaurro, 1989; Rhodes, 1997). The previous system was characterized by multiple sources of private finance, but its most striking feature was corrupt funding of a routinized and institutionalized nature — a system which, in turn, was informed by the informal and often illegal rules of operation of a second, hidden, dimension of power, which lay beneath the veneer provided by the rules of law and the formalities of democracy (Rhodes, 1997:55) 1. The modus operandi of parties in this second dimension rested on the 'partitocratic' nature of the Italian polity — a characterization widely used to refer to the parties' penetration of vast areas of the state and society. As the basso profondo underlying the system of corrupt political funding, the organization and mechanics of partitocrazia ('partyocracy') will be examined first. While the latter was given a strong underpinning in the post-war period by the nature of the party system — based as it was on the permanent exclusion from office of the main party of opposition, the Communist Party (PCI), and the permanence in office of the Christian Democrats (DC) at the head of unstable coalitions — partitocrazia owed its origins to factors whose deepest roots extended as far back as the birth of the Italian state itself. These included a weak state whose low levels of legitimacy would, after the fascist interlude, be perpetuated in the post-war period by the continuing recourse to clientelistic means of managing power relationships.