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Simon Parker Department of Politics University of York Italy: A European Paradox? Social Studies of Western Europe. Projects and resources' Tuesday 2nd.

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Presentation on theme: "Simon Parker Department of Politics University of York Italy: A European Paradox? Social Studies of Western Europe. Projects and resources' Tuesday 2nd."— Presentation transcript:

1 Simon Parker Department of Politics University of York Italy: A European Paradox? Social Studies of Western Europe. Projects and resources' Tuesday 2nd September, The British Library, St. Pancras.

2 Overview The origins and development of the Italian Republic The Two Italies Italy & Europe Economic Challenges Continuing political divisions Persistent electoral geographies Italian democracy in crisis? How exceptional is Italy in European terms?

3 The origins and development of the Italian Republic In the 1946 Referendum 12,717,923 votes were cast for the Republic and 10,719,204 for the monarchy. Elections to the Constituent Assembly resulted in 10,566,663 for the pro- republican parties, 4,303,273 in favour of pro- monarchist parties, and 8,083,206 votes for the Christian Democrats +50% support for Monarchy: Lazio, Abruzzi, Molise, Basilicata. +60% Puglia, Calabria, Sicily, Sardinia +70% Campania +50% support for Republic: Piedmont. +60% Trentino-Alto Adige, Aosta, Lombardy, Liguria, Venezia. +70% Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche

4 The Two Italies The 1948 Italian Constitution offered different bundles of principles and values to each of the major political groupings present in the Constituent Assembly. From the point of view of the Communists and Socialists, whose support was chiefly concentrated in the central north and north west, the constitution could be read as a strongly collectivist document with a heavy emphasis on the fundamental role of labour and social solidarity in the new republic. The Christian Democrats (DC) supporters were concentrated in the islands, the south and the northeast where loyalty to the religious and political establishment defined the political culture. For the DC the Constitution achieved its principal goal of defending the Church by re-endorsing the 1929 Lateran Treaties, while most institutions and laws of the Fascist era were able to survive because of the DCs post war dominance of government and parliament.

5 A divided country The North- South divide was most often discussed in terms of the Southern Question. Despite large injections of state aid to the regions of the South through national schemes such as the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno the southern regions continued to fall behind their more productive and affluent northern counterparts Consequently mass migrations of southern workers and their families to the towns and cities of northern Italy, northern Europe, North and South America and Australia grew from the 1940s onwards – peaking in the late 1950s and early mid-1960s with the major expansion of industrial employment associated with the economic miracle

6 Italy & Europe Despite being a founder member of the EEC, as Richard Bosworth notes: By 1945 Italy had, at last, and to its great benefit, been relegated; it was no longer a great power in any sense of the word (Bosworth, 1996: 53-54). In the period following the Second World War neutrality would have been the preference of many Italians, encouraged by a Church that saw the worldly materialism of the United States as hardly less appealing than the atheistic communism of the Soviet Union. PM Alcide De Gasperi & foreign minister Carlo Sforza were convinced that Italys security and economic well being depended on its membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, to which it became a founding signatory in April 1949. As a loyal member of Comintern the Italian Communist Party (PCI) regarded NATO as an enemy of socialism– a position that it maintained until the Historic Compromise of the 1970s

7 Italy & the EU The solution of the Trieste issue in 1954 allowed Italy to be fully admitted to the United Nations Organisation the following year, Churchill remarked that Italy has recovered her rank as a great power(Vigezzi, 1992:101). The Italian government was a keen supporter of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) established by the Treaty of Paris in April 1950. But the main communist opposition believed the Schuman Plan demoted Italy to a colonial status Even from its inception the European Community was regarded as a Franco-German club- ironically though the Left in subsequent years became champions of European integration while the new (i.e. post-Christian Democrat) right became increasingly Eurosceptical.

8 Rome-at the heart of Europe For Italys Prime Minister Antonio Segni, the advent of the Common Market in March 1957 was an unqualified achievement, and as the cradle…of European civilisation, and the well-spring of Europes Christian civilisation, Rome was the natural venue for the re-launch of the European ideal which would combine the ideas of progress, with that of order, security and faith. Italys support for the Maastricht Treaty and acceptance of the need to be one of the first members of the Eurozone according to Padoa-Schioppa reflected an unusual unity of purpose between government, parliament, the Bank of Italy, the Treasury and the party machines.

9 Italys strained relations with Europe With the advent of the Berlusconi led governments in 1994 and particularly in 2001-2006 and more recently again in 2008 this unity of purpose has all but disappeared in relation to the major institutions of Europe (the Commission, the Parliament, the Court of Justice). The day that Berlusconi assumed the EU Presidency (July 2003) he likened a German MEP, who had been barracking him, to a concentration guard. The centre-right government strongly opposed the introduction of a common European arrest warrant and more extensive powers for Europol that would allow more effective investigations into corporate fraud and money laundering across the EU.

10 Italy out in the cold? Gianfranco Pasquino observed that Berlusconis close personal ties with Putin (whose daughters he urged to call him Uncle Silvio), Blair and Bush won little influence in European foreign policy making forums where Italy was rarely or never invited to the British-Franco-German summits. The Prodi government restored some credibility as honest brokers on behalf of Europe during the Israel-Lebanon conflict in 2006 and Italy is the third largest supplier of peace-keeping troops (behind the US and the UK) to conflict regions such as Kosovo, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Though the suicide attack on a Carabinieri barracks in Nasiriyah in November 2003, which killed at least 26 (including 19 Italians) and injured more than 60 others, was a major blow to Italian morale and undoubtedly contributed to Berlusconis decision to withdraw all Italian forces from Iraq by the end of 2006.

11 Economic challenges Italy has struggled to maintain its share of its world marketswhich rose from 4.6 per cent of world exports in 1970 to 5 per cent in 1987 but fell back to 3.8 per cent in 2002. Since 2000, FIAT Auto has accumulated $14 billion in net losses. In 1990 FIAT sold 1.9 million cars and controlled 13.8 per cent of the European market (second only to Volkswagen), but by 2004 sales had fallen to 1 million and European market share was down to 7.6 per cent Since joining the Euro the Italian economy has fared badlyit was the first of the major European economies to experience zero growth, while rises in taxation and higher inflation have depressed real wages. For much of the 1990s and the 2000s, theMade in Italy brand has found it increasingly difficult to compete with much cheaper and often equally well-made products from the rapidly emerging new economies such as China.

12 Despite Berlusconis claim that Italys economic crisis is only an aspiration of the left and the newspapers allied to them the World Economic Forums annual competitiveness league table, which placed Italy in 26th place in 2001, ranked it only 47th in 2005 (just above Botswana). Having achieved the celebrated sorpasso with the United Kingdom in 1987 when Italy, according to some measures, overtook the UK to become the 4th biggest economy in the world, by 2005 the Italian economy was only four-fifths the size of the UKs with average growth over the previous 15- year period the slowest in the European Union.

13 Continuing political divisions Party identification weakened in the 1980s and 1990s but has strengthened in recent years as block voting replaces the old system of party identification

14 The apolitical and former Christian Democrats have tended to vote centre-right Roughly 60 per cent of former Socialist voters and 55 per cent of Christian Democratic ones chose to vote for the centre-right (Chamber of Deputies, constituency ballot) in 1994 – P. Bellucci

15 Source: John Agnew Major political alliances & parties – elections to Lower House of Parliament 1994-2006 Persistence of electoral geographies

16 2008 Parliamentary Elections - Senate

17 2008 Parliamentary Elections - Chamber of Deputies

18 A democracy in crisis? Certainly publications such as The Economist (not traditionally an ally of the Left) regard the re-election of Silvio Berlusconi as perilous for Italian democracy Citing in particular the introduction of immunity legislation that prevents Berlusconi being prosecuted for the SME case involving serious allegations of bribery of the judiciary SB has in turn described the foreign press and the Italian liberal media along with the judges of trying to bring down his government because they cannot accept the democratic will of the people

19 Is Italy really that exceptional? Like most Europeans, Italians worry about crime and security-they see their borders as vulnerable and have demonstrated support for draconian illegal immigration controls The Italian Interior Minister was openly criticised by the European Union for introducing compulsory fingerprinting of Roma children-but the same practice of fingerprinting and photographing the children of asylum seekers goes unnoticed and uncommented in the UK. The centre-left in Italy has tried to allay such fears by calling for police crackdowns and raids on illegal gypsy camps too, while the openly Islamaphobic statements of the Northern League and Berlsuconi are not unheard of in other parts of Europe and among different political orientations A burned out Roma camp in Naples – 68% of Italians want all Roma expelled

20 The problems faced by the Italian economy are beginning to be experienced by most other European economies, and Italy is not alone in questioning whether Euro membership and further integration is really worth the pain (witness the recent referendum in Ireland). What has changed with the advent of the Northern League and the National Alliance in power is an increasing disregard for polite opinion at home and abroad – a willingness to openly use the fascist salute at the victory parade of the new mayor of Rome – Gianni Alemanno and for Berlusconi to describe his political movement as the new Falange.

21 The new Democratic Party has been equivocal about the deterioration of democratic institutions – leaving it to intellectuals, artists, and activists (I girotondi) to encircle the institutions of the Republic in a symbolic gesture of protection With an unassailable centre-right majority in both chambers and a coalition united around an authoritarian and increasingly Eurosceptic agenda, the years ahead are likely to see Italy drifting further from the safe European anchorage that a succession of post-war leaders from De Gasperi to Romano Prodi worked to establish

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