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Post How Long Has Italy Been Dysfunctional?
Created by John Eipper on 02/28/13 4:53 PM

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How Long Has Italy Been Dysfunctional? (Roy Domenico, USA, 02/28/13 4:53 pm)

There's been a lot of talk about "dysfunctional" Italy and that's true--in part.  But it's also complicated in looking at the nation's postwar history.

First of all, it's difficult to say that, until the Second World War, Mussolini's regime was unstable. It was a lot of things, but unstable wasn't one of them. Then, after the war, Italian politics were dominated by the Christian Democrats--for about 40-50 years. Yes, the government fell once a year, give and take, but the DC always held sway so changes in Government were little more than what we understand as a cabinet shuffle. Again, if anything, the Government was boringly predictable.

Since the collapse of the early 1990s--and that was, I'll give you, a real collapse--the Government and politics have not found their footing. Meanwhile Berlusconi has ruled Italy for a good part of the period (since 1993-4)--for six months in 1994-95; from June 2001 to May 2006 and from May 2008 until November 2011. Furthermore, all through the postwar period--at least in the DC years--the economy generally did very well (exceptionally well in the 1950s and 1960s). Moreover, it weathered the oil crisis of the 1970s better than did its European neighbors, the lights turned on and the mail was delivered--in most places. The South was and remains Italy's Achilles Heel in all sorts of ways.

Finally, on David Fleischer's post, I should correct one point about divorce and abortion. There is no question that DC power (and the Church) delayed the legalization of both. However, both were made legal through Parliamentary votes, in 1970 for divorce and 1978 for abortion (and at least in the first case, many DC members broke ranks). Popular referenda in, respectively, 1974 and 1981, failed to reverse the two legalizations but rather confirmed them. In both cases the DC thought that national votes would reverse the Parliamentary votes, and in both cases the strategy backfired.

JE comments:  Ah, and it's pizza night at WAIS HQ.  Be back in an hour...


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