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Governing without Surviving? An Italian paradox: law-making in Italy 1987-2001

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Authors: Giliberto Capano and Marco Giuliani

Published: Journal of Legislative Studies 7(4): 13–36 (2001)

Almost 25 years ago, Di Palma portrayed the Italian political system as one in which parties, executives and political élites survived without governing. Much of his interpretation was based upon a careful empirical investigation of the actual functioning of the legislative process. We adopt the same perspective in order to evaluate if, after the major events and institutional transformations which have shattered the Italian political landscape, Di Palma’s original hypothesis still holds at the turn of the century. In spite of the lack of control of the ordinary legislative process exhibited by executives in the last four legislatures (1987–2001), together with a marked systemic instability, the last few years have witnessed the successful introduction of significant reforms in several sectors. Paradoxically, during the 1990s, the major political actors have shown themselves to be more capable of governing than of surviving.