Italy was the first European democracy hit by COVID-19 and among the countries experiencing the most dramatic death tolls. Its outbreak and diffusion represented a veritable test for the Italian political system. When the pandemic crisis started, PM Giuseppe Conte headed a coalition government composed by the centre-left Democratic Party and the Five Star Movement. This was an untested and fragile coalition, governing a country in difficult economic conditions and under tight budgetary constraints. To provide a timely response to the pandemic crisis, decision-making was further centralised in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, with Parliament entrusted, instead, with a marginal or at best reactive role. Yet, both tensions between levels of government—i.e., central government vs. regions—and within the government coalition constrained the effectiveness of executive action. Initially, the pandemic emergency was de-politicised. Its politicisation occurred later, when the crisis became less acute. In early 2021, however, the formation of a super grand coalition supporting the new PM Mario Draghi led to further de-politicisation. The rollout of the vaccination plan and the effective spending of the EU Recovery Funds were widely regarded as necessities leaving little space for party-political games.

Italy: Contested Centralisation amid Political Uncertainty

Edoardo, Bressanelli;David, Natali
2022

Abstract

Italy was the first European democracy hit by COVID-19 and among the countries experiencing the most dramatic death tolls. Its outbreak and diffusion represented a veritable test for the Italian political system. When the pandemic crisis started, PM Giuseppe Conte headed a coalition government composed by the centre-left Democratic Party and the Five Star Movement. This was an untested and fragile coalition, governing a country in difficult economic conditions and under tight budgetary constraints. To provide a timely response to the pandemic crisis, decision-making was further centralised in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, with Parliament entrusted, instead, with a marginal or at best reactive role. Yet, both tensions between levels of government—i.e., central government vs. regions—and within the government coalition constrained the effectiveness of executive action. Initially, the pandemic emergency was de-politicised. Its politicisation occurred later, when the crisis became less acute. In early 2021, however, the formation of a super grand coalition supporting the new PM Mario Draghi led to further de-politicisation. The rollout of the vaccination plan and the effective spending of the EU Recovery Funds were widely regarded as necessities leaving little space for party-political games.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11382/549131
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