Public Choice

, Volume 120, Issue 3–4, pp 439–401 | Cite as

Does Policy Stability Increase the Constitutional Court's Independence? The Case of Italy During the First Republic (1956–1992)

  • Michele Santoni
  • Francesco Zucchini


In this paper, we consider thesentences of constitutional illegitimacy bythe Italian Constitutional Court in theFirst Republic (1956–1992) as a measure ofits independence from politicians. We focuson the Court's incidental review and testwhether the Court's independence increaseswhen there is more policy stability, namelywhen politicians are less able to changethe policy status quo by legislation. Wefollow Tsebelis (2002) in assuming thatlegislative policy change is less likelywhen either the number and/or ideologicaldistance of veto players increases. As aproxy for the size of the veto players'Pareto set, we use either the number ofparties in government, or the number ofparties forming a constitutional majorityin Parliament, or the number of effectiveparties in Parliament, or measures ofideological distance based on Laver andHunt (1992). By controlling for the Court'sdegree of internal cohesion, cointegrationanalysis shows that there is a stable andpositive long-run relationship between theCourt's independence and proxy measures ofthe degree of policy stability.


Public Finance Policy Status Policy Change Proxy Measure Stability Increase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Banerjee A., Dolado, J.J., Hendry, D.F. and Smith, G.W. (1986). Exploring equilibrium re-lationships in econometrics through static models: Some Monte Carlo evidence. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics 48: 253–277.Google Scholar
  2. Banks, A.S. (1994). Cross-national time-series data archive. Center for Social Analysis, State University of New York at Binghamton. New York: Binghamton.Google Scholar
  3. Bergara, M., Richman, B. and Spiller, P.T. (2003). Modelling Supreme Court strategic decision making: The congressional constraint. Legislative Studies Quarterly 28: 407–480.Google Scholar
  4. Bonini, F. (1996). Storia della Corte Costituzionale italiana. Roma: Nuova Italia Scientifica.Google Scholar
  5. Breton, A. and Fraschini, A. (2003). Vertical competition in unitary states: The case of Italy. Public Choice 114: 57–77.Google Scholar
  6. Caporale, T. and Winter, H. (1998). Political influence over Supreme Court criminal procedure cases. Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization 35: 465–475.Google Scholar
  7. Carson, J.L. and Kleinerman, B.A. (2002). A switch in time saves nine: Institutions, strategic actors, and FDR's court-packing plan. Public Choice 113: 301–324.Google Scholar
  8. Cheli, E. (1999). Il giudice delle leggi. Bologna: il Mulino.Google Scholar
  9. Cooter, R.D. and Ginsburg, T. (1996). Comparative judicial discretion. International Review of Law and Economics 16: 295–313.Google Scholar
  10. de Haan, J. and Sturm, J. (1997). Political and economic determinants of OECD budget deficits and government expenditures: a reinvestigation. European Journal of Political Economy 13: 739–750.Google Scholar
  11. Engle, R.F. and Granger, C.W.J. (1987). Cointegration and error correction: Representation, estimation and testing. Econometrica 55: 251–276.Google Scholar
  12. Ericsson, N. and MacKinnon, J.G. (2002). Distributions of error correction tests for cointeg-ration. Econometrics Journal 5: 185–318.Google Scholar
  13. Gely, R. and Spiller, P.T. (1992). The political economy of Supreme Court constitutional decisions: The case of Roosevelt's court-packing plan. International Review of Law and Economics 12: 45–67.Google Scholar
  14. Helmke, G. (2002). The logic of strategic defection: Court-executive relations in Argentina under dictatorship and democracy. American Political Science Review 96: 291–303.Google Scholar
  15. Hendry, D.F. and Juselius, K. (2000). Explaining cointegration analysis: Part I. Energy Journal 21: 1–42.Google Scholar
  16. Keefer, P. and Stasavage, D. (2003) The limits of delegation, veto players, central bank in-dependence, and the credibility of monetary policy. American Political Science Review.Google Scholar
  17. Kremers, J.J.M., Ericsson, N.R. and Dolado, J.J. (1992).The power of the cointegration tests. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics 54:325–348.Google Scholar
  18. Kreppel, A. (1997). The impact of parties in government on legislative output in Italy. European Journal of Political Research 31: 327–350.Google Scholar
  19. Iaryczower, M., Spiller, P.T. and Tommasi, M. (2002). Judicial independence in unstable environments, Argentina 1935-1998. American Journal of Political Science 46: 699–716.Google Scholar
  20. Laakso, M. and Taagepera, R. (1979). Effective number of parties: A measure with application to West Europe. Comparative Political Studies 12: 3–27.Google Scholar
  21. Laver, M. and Hunt, W.B. (1992). Policy and party competition. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Linz, J.J. (1996). The perils of presidentialism. In L. Diamond and M.F. Platter, M.F. (Eds.), The global resurgence of democracy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Mershon, C. (1996). The costs of coalitions: Coalition theories and Italian governments. American Political Science Review 90: 534–554.Google Scholar
  24. Moser, P. (1999). Checks and balances, and the supply of central bank independence. European Economic Review 43: 1569–1593.Google Scholar
  25. Nardini, W.J. (2000). Passive activism and the limits of judicial self-restraint: Lessons for America from Italian Constitutional Court. Seton Hall Law Review 30: 1–58.Google Scholar
  26. Rodotà, S. (1999). Storia della Corte Costituzionale italiana. Bari: Laterza.Google Scholar
  27. Rolla, G. and Groppi, T. (2002). Between politics and the law: The development of constitu-tional review in Italy. In W. Sadurski (Ed.), Constitutional justice, East and West: Demo-cratic legitimacy and constitutional courts in post-communist Europe in a comparative perspective. The Hague: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
  28. Ruggeri, A. and Spadaro, A. (1998). Lineamenti di giustizia costituzionale. Torino: Giap-pichelli Editore.Google Scholar
  29. Santoni, M. and Zucchini, F. (2002). Legislative output and the Constitutional Court in Italy, mimeo, Università degli Studi di Milano.Google Scholar
  30. Segal, J.A. (1997). Separation-of-powers games in the positive theory of congress and courts. American Political Science Review 91: 28–44.Google Scholar
  31. Spiller, P.T. and Gely, R. (1992). Congressional control or judicial independence: The de-terminants of US Supreme Court labor-relations decisions, 1949-1989. RAND Journal of Economics 23: 463–492.Google Scholar
  32. Tsebelis, G. (1995). Decision making in political systems: Veto players in presidentialism, parliamentarism, multicameralism, and multipartyism. British Journal of Political Science 25: 289–326.Google Scholar
  33. Tsebelis, G. (2000). Veto players and institutional analysis.Governance 13: 441–474.Google Scholar
  34. Tsebelis, G. (2002). Veto players: Foundations of institutional analysis. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Tsebelis, G. and Chang, E.C.C. (2002). Veto players and the structure of budgets in advanced industrialized countries. European Journal of Political Research. Forthcoming.Google Scholar
  36. Zucchini, F. (2001). Veto players e interazione fra esecutivo e legislativo: Il caso italiano. Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 31: 109–138.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michele Santoni
  • Francesco Zucchini

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations