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Berlusconi's Italy

Berlusconi's Italy: Mapping Contemporary Italian Politics

Michael E. Shin
John A. Agnew
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Berlusconi's Italy
    Book Description:

    Berlusconi's Italyprovides a fresh, thoroughly-informed account of how Italy's richest man came to be its political leader. Without dismissing the importance of personalities and political parties, it emphasizes the significance of changes in voting behaviors that led to the rise-and eventual fall-of Silvio Berlusconi, the millionaire media baron who became Prime Minister. Armed with new data and new analytic tools, Michael Shin and John Agnew use recently developed methods of spatial analysis, to offer a compelling new argument about contextual re-creation and mutation. They reveal that regional politics and shifting geographical voting patterns were far more important to Berlusconi's successes than the widely-credited role of the mass media, and conclude that Berlusconi's success (and later defeat) can be best understood in geographic terms.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-718-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Population Studies, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Introduction: Berlusconi’s Italy
    (pp. 1-14)

    July 9, 2006, must have been a day of mixed emotions for Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister. The Italian team had won soccer’s World Cup with a victory over France, but Berlusconi could not politically bask in the glory of the team to which he had tied his political career. Not only had he named the political party he invented in 1994 to serve his political ambitions after the chant for the national team, Forza Italia, his supporters had also acquired the nicknamegli azzurri(the blues) after the pet name for the players on the national soccer...

  5. 2 The Geography of the New Bipolarity, 1994–2006
    (pp. 15-45)

    One of the high hopes of the early 1990s was that following the cleansing of the corruption associated with the party regime of the cold war period, Italy could become a “normal country.” There were hopes that bipolar politics of electoral competition between clearly defined coalitions formed before elections, rather than perpetual domination by the center, would lead to the potential alternating of progressive and conservative forces in national political office and check the systematic corruption ofpartitocraziabased on the jockeying for government offices (and associated powers) after elections (Gundle and Parker 1996). From one viewpoint this has happened....

  6. 3 Party Replacement, Italian Style
    (pp. 46-64)

    Much has been written about the success of Silvio Berlusconi and his party, Forza Italia. The attention that he and his party receive is indeed warranted on many levels. From his financial success and conflicts of interest to his personal appeal and public gaffes, Berlusconi is the object of both fascination and morbid curiosity. Yethowdid Berlusconi and Forza Italia establish themselves so quickly on a political landscape once dominated by Christian Democrats, Communists, and Socialists? What exactly happened to these parties and the voters that once supported them? Was the arrival ofil Cavaliereor “the Knight” an...

  7. 4 The Geographical Secret to Berlusconi’s Success
    (pp. 65-98)

    Of course, Berlusconi’s political career as head of a center-right coalition would never have been possible but for the collapse of the old parties and the electoral system associated with them. At the same time, the new electoral system, introduced after public approval in a referendum in 1993, definitely encouraged the emergence of clear groupings of parties because of the overwhelming importance of the majoritarian element (the 75 percent of seats in the Chamber and the Senate awarded in single-member districts that would reward larger electoral coalitions) in the new system (see Chapter 2). The critical question from our point...

  8. 5 What Went Up Later Came Down
    (pp. 99-122)

    Immediately following the center-right’s victory in the 2001 elections, Silvio Berlusconi proclaimed that a “new era” was beginning for all Italians. Indeed, many hopes and expectations were placed upon Berlusconi and his “House of Freedoms” coalition which enjoyed outright majorities in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Not the least of these expectations was the hope that the Italian economy could be invigorated without damaging the myriad interests of those fearful of the reformist zeal of the center-left. Ushered into power partly because of this appeal, it appeared that Berlusconi could become the strong leader of a stable,...

  9. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 123-136)

    The closeness of the 2006 election after earlier expectations of an easy center-left victory has reinforced the idea of Berlusconi as Italy’s electoral superman. Particularly when seen in the light of the subsequent local elections in May 2006 and the constitutional referendum in June 2006 (when in the absence of much active campaigning by Berlusconi, the center-right appeared unappealing and lost heavily), the role of Berlusconi in turning national elections into referenda about himself seems hard to refute. However, our point is different. Rather than focusing on his leadership as if it entailed an automatic response from an otherwise apathetic...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 137-148)
  11. References
    (pp. 149-164)
  12. Index
    (pp. 165-170)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 171-171)