The Berlusconi anomaly: Populism and patrimony in Italy's long transition

Phil Edwards

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The election of the second Berlusconi government in 2001 can be seen as a consequence of disunity on the left; this sprang from Italy's incomplete transition from the 'First Republic' of 1948-1992, which aroused potentially incompatible demands for political normalization, openness to the radical left and ethical renovation. While the Berlusconi government's record has been confused and ineffectual, dominated by the shifting relations between coalition partners Forza Italia, Alleanza Nazionale and Lega Nord, the government has made sustained efforts to secure the anomalous position of Berlusconi himself. Berlusconi has resisted widespread political and legal opposition by orchestrating a combination of populism and patrimonialism; in the process he has blocked or reversed all three of the reforming drives of the 1990s. The Berlusconi government presents a challenge to Italy's continuing transition, and to the country's democratic institutions. © 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-243
Number of pages18
JournalSouth European Society and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


  • Bipolarism
  • Patrimonialism
  • Populism
  • Second Republic
  • Transition


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