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Still an outlier: Italy in a Southern European comparative perspective

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There are many superficial reasons to believe that the Italian political system does not work in a satisfactory way. In this paper, we explore three different areas: parties and the party system; the governments; and the satisfaction of Italian citizens with their politics and their personal life. We utilize a variety of data to illustrate the most important points and we do so comparing Italy with Greece, Portugal and Spain. Practically, on all measures and indicators Italy remains quite different from the other three Southern European countries. Though there have been some improvements, especially when we compare two rather different phases of the Italian Republic: 1945-93 and 1994 up to now, not only are there still unsolved problems, but the most important changes do not appear to be stabilized and could quite easily be reversed as we explain rather succinctly. In sum, Italy remains an outlier and the explanation for the persistent difficulties must still be looked for and can be found in the fragmentation of the party system and in the instability of the coalition governments. Hence, the dissatisfaction of Italian citizens with the working of their political system appears to be fully justified, even more so when seen in a Southern European comparative perspective.
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Keywords: Party system; South European politics; alternation; cabinet durability; satisfaction with democracy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Bologna,

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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