Italy: A Difficult Democracy? (1945-Present)

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Italy's 2013 national elections featured a list of 49 parties. This may be a sure sign of an open, thriving democracy. But the story of what led to this fragmentation is far more complex than the mere development of political pluralism. This presentation by Dr. Alessandro Brogi explores the strengths and weaknesses of the Italian modern state since 1945. The political system was characterized by 40 years of Christian Democrat rule and strong Communist opposition. But the apparent government instability (counting a succession of 63 cabinets since 1945) also concealed a great deal of stagnation, as a few leaders, trading cabinet posts, kept holding power. Political and economic corruption, while thriving during the Cold War years, became fully exposed at the end of that era, once the justification of anti-Sovietism disappeared and a more complex system of global interdependence opened the inner workings of Italian politics to closer international scrutiny. The political events of the Italian republic were interlaced with the success of the country's economic growth and social modernization, peaking during the "Italian miracle" of the 1950s-60s. But the relationship between tradition best expressed by the Catholic Church − and social progress represented by a spectrum from centrist libertarians to Marxists − remained tense. This tension led to extreme countercultural expressions, which spawned left-wing and right-wing terrorism and, until the mid-1980s, stronger attacks on the institutions than anywhere else among Western democracies. But while Italy may have struggled with modernity, its economy now ranks eighth among the world's industrial powers, and its culture has become profoundly secular and diversified

Monday, 30 September, 2013


Chad Stebbins

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