The Institutional Odyssey of the Italian Parliamentary Republic
Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 17, No. 1, 2012, pp. 10-24
16 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2014
Date Written: 2012
The ways in which Italy’s Republican parliament has functioned have changed significantly since the end of the Cold War. Following the Second World War, ideological divisions led Italy to adopt strategies of consensus that were premised on the central role of parliament. But once those divisions were overcome Italy was able to join the family of parliamentary systems in which government was the seat of power. In the Italian case, the changes in the relationship between political institutions has not been accompanied either by coherent reform of the electoral system or of the constitution. In addition, the collapse of the old political parties and their replacement by personality-centred parties has also accentuated the weakness of the political bases of successive governments. Since the end of the Cold War Italian politics has functioned in line with a bipolar logic, but the internal cohesion of the governing coalitions has repeatedly been called into question. So, too, has the leadership of the head of the government, however characterized by forms of personal leadership that had been consolidated after a lengthy period of consensual politics and collegial leadership. The consequence is that Italian democracy has changed becoming more competitive, although this change continues to politically uncertain and institutionally unbalanced – hence it is a democracy that still continues its ‘odyssey’ in search of a more stable institutional equilibrium.
Keywords: Italy, constitution, parliament, government, leadership, Cold War, reform
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