Author: Francesco Zucchini
Published: Rivista italiana di scienza politica (3): 569–610 (1997)
The article explores the problem of the “consociational” nature of Italian democracy during the First Republic. The Author focuses on the oversized legislative coalitions that supported “particularistic” bills during this period. Two alternative approaches to explain the pattern of behavior in the Italian Parliament are discussed. The first approach emphasizes the polarized nature of Italian politics and denies the existence of real “consociationalism” in Italy. Large legislative coalitions would have passed only residual and minor laws since the main Italian parties were mutually mistrustful to agree on big issues. In contrast, the second approach explains the bulk of legislative behavior as “consociational”, that is, a consistent pattern of party consensus on distributive and particularistic policies. An interpretation of law-making in the Italian Parliament is advanced, using rational choice models. The Author suggests that a nested games – approach can illuminate how rules work and help to understand the effects of institutional changes in the law-making process.