Mind & Society

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 129–148 | Cite as

A matter of trust: The search for accountability in Italian politics, 1990–2000

  • Cristina BicchieriEmail author
  • Ram Mudambi
  • Pietro Navarra


During the Nineties Italian politics underwent major changes. Following the uncovering of systemic corruption, the current political establishment was wiped out. The system of representation at both the national and local level underwent a significant transformation that improved voters’ control over their elected representatives. We argue that both events were the consequence of citizens’ demand for greater accountability of public officers. We model the relationship between voters and politicians as a repeated Trust game. In such game, cooperation can be attained by means of external or internal controls. Whereas judicial investigation is an external monitoring mechanism, the electoral reform provides controls internal to the political system. We explain the Italian transition between these different modes of control and show under which conditions a cooperative equilibrium can be established in which voters trust their representatives who in turn act in the public interest.


Trust games Monitoring and sanctioning systems Principal-agent relationship Electoral systems Political accountability 


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Copyright information

© Fondazione Rosselli 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cristina Bicchieri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ram Mudambi
    • 2
    • 3
  • Pietro Navarra
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of General & Strategic Management, Fox School of Business & ManagementTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.University of ReadingUK
  4. 4.Dipartimento di EconomiaUniversità degli Studi di MessinaMessinaItalia
  5. 5.London School of EconomicsUK

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