Author: Francesco Zucchini
Published: Rivista italiana di scienza politica (1): 109–138 (2001)
Most studies of the Italian parliament during the so called First Republic try to explain the permanent characteristics of legislative output. Scholars trying to account for the change usually interpret it as the complete fullfilment of structural factors operating since the beginning of the Italian Republic. Both explanations of the general characteristics of law-making and explanations of the law-making change along the years seem quite puzzling. For instance, if the political polarization among the main parties are to explain the lack of great reforms and substantive policy changes, why does the executive find it more difficult to pass its legislation exactly when polarization and mistrust are presumed to decrease? If the high rate of consensus in passing the bills is an effect of cultural attitudes of Italian political élites towards agreement (if not collusion), why can one find the same phenomenon during some periods in other political systems such as the United States, presumably culturally different from Italy? In this article the author partially modifies the Veto Players Model, introduced by Tsebelis in 1995, to give an interpretation of Italian law-making change. Applying rational choice theory to the analysis of institutions, the author shifts the attention to decisional rules and their effects. The parliamentary party fragmentation and the depolarization process seem the crucial explanatory variables, no matter how many actors participate in the government coalition. The depolarization process seems to play a counterintuitive role because of the lack of executive agenda power.