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Berlusconi's Italy

Mapping Contemporary Italian Politics

Michael E. Shin

Publication Year: 2008

Berlusconi's Italy provides 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.

Published by: Temple University Press

Table of Contents

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pp. v

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pp. vii-ix

Italy experienced a political watershed in the early 1990s when the old system of parties collapsed and was subsequently replaced. With the new regime emerged several novelties, such as new parties and electoral alliances on both the left and the right of the political spectrum. Perhaps the most notable outcome...

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1. Introduction: Berlusconi’s Italy

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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...

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2. The Geography of the New Bipolarity, 1994–2006

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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...

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3. Party Replacement, Italian Style

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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. Yet how did Berlusconi and...

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4. The Geographical Secret to Berlusconi’s Success

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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...

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5. What Went Up Later Came Down

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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...

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6. Conclusion

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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...


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pp. 137-148


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pp. 149-163


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pp. 165-169

E-ISBN-13: 9781592137183
Print-ISBN-13: 9781592137176

Publication Year: 2008