Government-Opposition Dynamics, Intra-Coalition Conflict, or Distributive Logic? An Analysis of the Length of the Legislative Process in Italy (1987-2006)

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Author: Andrea Pedrazzani

Published: Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 43(2): 225-252 (2013)

Although the speed at which governmental initiatives are approved by parliament can influence the effectiveness of the executive and the accountability of the political system, scholars have devoted scarce attention to the duration of parliamentary processes. This article focuses on the legislative production of Italian cabinets, and aims at investigating the conditions that enable governments to have a rapid enactment for their initiatives, and those that lengthen parliamentary proceedings. Studying the length of the legislative process allows us to understand how the opposition members use their ability to delay the passage of government bills. In this regard, the Italian case enables to explore the differences between a pivotal and consensual system (the First Republic), and an alternational and potentially majoritarian one (the Second Republic). The other hypotheses evaluated concern the dynamics within the governing coalition, and the mutual exchange of votes among legislators. Hypotheses are tested by using original data on the legislation introduced by the Italian governments between 1987 and 2006. The adopted research strategy treats the legislative process as a sequence of stages, each one with its own logic and peculiar explanatory factors. The results do not indicate any impact of the policy divisions between government and opposition. Instead, they highlight the importance of intra-coalition dynamics and the presence of logrolling and distributive logic.


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