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Political Immobilism, Clientelism, Collapse, and Democratic Renewal in Italy

  • Marco Rimanelli

Abstract

In his seminal work, T. J. Pempel lists four criteria for a party to forge a long-lasting single-party-dominant political system within any given country. First, it must dominate numerically the political scene, in terms of seats won in parliament and numbers of votes nationally. Second, it must hold the controlling political bargaining position, so that no government can ever be formed without its participation and leadership. Third, the dominant single-party must rule the government over an extended period of time (possibly over 30 years) through several successful and democratic elections. Fourth, it must dominate the governments that it forms, by monopolizing key positions such as the prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, economic portfolios, and the state apparatus at large, to be able to reward its political supporters with jobs and targeted social programs that would keep them loyal to it and thus consolidate its single-party dominance despite domestic changes or challenges by other parties. In all instances, Italy emerges as both a trendsetter among single-party-dominant countries and a peculiar case-study. The almost 50-year-old triumph of the Christian Democrats’ (DC) brand of “soft hegemony” was due to the unique combination of Pempel’s dominance prerequisites, the Italians’ peculiar anarchical politico-cultural mind-set, and a widespread patronage system (“to lock-in the vote”) so pervasive and greedy that in the end it consumed the entire politico-economic system from within, destroying all parties and political figures, leaving in its wake an untested, chaotic, new multi-party system, still caught between bi-party alternance and party fragmentation, corruption, and accountable democratic renewal through the current new government of the Center-Left (the Ulivo Pole).1

Keywords

Organize Crime Coalition Government Domestic Politics Patronage System Governmental Coalition 
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.

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Notes

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© Marco Rimanelli 1999

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  • Marco Rimanelli

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