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Berlusconi, strong government and the Italian state

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Over the past decade, state capacity has increased at all levels, including that of central government, and the emergence of effective government in Italy has proved popular. A second trend has been the reassertion of party government since 1996. Given these two trends, the large parliamentary majority obtained by Silvio Berlusconi's alliance, the Casa delle Libertà, might be expected to result in strong party government. In fact, Berlusconi's triumph offers something more and something less than party government, challenging Italian democracy. Nevertheless, as a consolidated democracy, Italy should be able to withstand such a challenge. One stable, democratic outcome to Italy's political transformation would be the consolidation of a Schumpeterian model of democracy. This would require the anomalies of the right's accumulation of powers to be resolved, a process which the left could promote by accepting that strong democratic government is a public good, and by organizing itself to challenge Berlusconi by campaigning to provide Italy with such government through parliamentary competition.
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Keywords: Berlusconi; democracy; parties; state; strong government; transformation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cardiff University

Publication date: June 1, 2003

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