The Rise and Fall of Silvio Berlusconi: Personalization of Politics and its Limits
Comparative European Politics Vol. 11, 2, 153-171, 2013, doi:10.1057/cep.2012.18; published online 9 July 2012
19 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 23, 2014
The article presents a comparative and theoretical discussion of Silvio Berlusconi’s experience with the personalization of politics. That experience is located in the context of the technological transformations that emerged in political communication and electoral mobilization in Europe and the United States, transformations that fostered a highly personalized political process. Leaders, not parties, have become the main actors in electoral politics. This has been particularly true in Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi has been the promoter and beneficiary of those transformations. At the same time, such personalization has met formidable obstacles while moving from the electoral to the governmental level in both Europe and the United States. It was less so, however, in Italy during the premierships of Silvio Berlusconi, due to the latter’s personal control of his party and parliamentary majority. Nevertheless, the deepening of the financial crisis has shown that even such a radical personalization of politics met its limits. Under the pressure of the market and the European institutions, Silvio Berlusconi finally had to resign and was replaced by an executive composed of technocrats and professors. In the end, the technicalities of policy had their revenge on the personalization of politics.
Keywords: Silvio Berlusconi; teledemocracy; electoral personalization; governmental
JEL Classification: Comprative European Politics
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