Looking beyond the Aggregate Figures. An Investigation of the Consensual Approval of Government Bills (1988-2008)

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Author: Andrea Pedrazzani

Published: in Nicolò Conti and Francesco Marangoni (eds), The Challenge of Coalition Government: The Italian Case, London, Routledge (2015), pp. 75-105.

Abstract: Despite the harsh confrontation among parties in the public debate, Italian legislation is usually approved by very large majorities. Remarkably, this is also true for the legislation initiated by the government. A number of recent contributions have shown that the consensual traits of Italy’s legislative process survived the end of the First Republic and the shift to the Second Republic. However, not all the bills introduced by the Italian government are approved in a consensual manner. This chapter aims to investigate variance in the support enjoyed by government-sponsored legislation. Through the analysis of roll-call votes, the chapter shows that levels of consensus depend on the management of conflict between majority and opposition, and on the complexity of the bargaining environment in the parliament at the voting stage. Moreover, the presence of vote trading among legislators helps explain whether the approval of bills is consensual or majoritarian. In addition, other features of the bills – such as their proposers and their internal complexity – shed light on the kind of support they gain in the parliament. Finally, the length of the legislative process and the extent to which bills are modified before approval are also influential factors. The overall picture is ultimately one of a very dynamic (but also intricate) final voting stage in the parliament.