Aa InttflixfeCT Amcsrawnt
Italy: The Quest for More Effective Government
tbe Directorate of Operations
Italy: The Quest
for More Etfectlve Gorrrnmenl
Although tbe weaknesses of Italy's governing system have long been identified, lulianare only recently begun to give serious consideration to reforming the country's political machinery. The current system is characterized by:
An electoral process that hasultitude of small and medium-sized parties.
A Prime Minister with only limited authority to impose discipline on his
large, unruly cabinet.
procedures tbat hinder passage of even tbe most crucial
policymaking process that too often produces "least common;denomi-nator" compromises on problems that require clear-cut aciionj
With Itaiy again experiencing severe economicgrowth coupled with rising Inflation, unemployment, andhasrowing public demand for more effective government. Prime Minister Craxi and his Socialist Party have taken tbe lead in proposingbut all of the majorvarying degrees ofare calling for some reform. Since Craxi took office last summer, the major parties have, in fact, agreed to some small but significant changes. These include:
An "inner cabinet" composed of major ministers and parly leaders to facilitate decisionmaking.
Restrictions on the use of some legislative devices ia the Chamber ofas secretare often manipulated to disrupt governing coalitions.
A tightlyday parliamentary session for key budget and finance kgitlatioo specially designed to avoid committee delays or prolonged filibustering in the Chamber.
ountry as tradition bound as luly. ever,imited and tenutivc willingness to alter the system amocntsignificant change in political thinking. In addition toesire to deal more effectively with the pi obi ems of the moment, itto stemsrowing conviction thatoliticians have tried most of the options available under the present rules and found them wanting. Although much of the impetus for change has come from Prime Minister Craxi, we believe there is now enough interest in institutional reform to keep the issue alive beyond his tenure as Prime Minister]
Wc nonetheless expect that further progress will be slow ind incremental and will depend primarily on whether the main parties see changes serving their practical interests. If basic political attitude* continue to change, wc believe the propensity of the parties to adopt more fit-ranging changes will grow. Some of the ideas being debated include:
ertain minimum share of the popular vote forin theorercent threshold, as in West Germany, would eliminate nine of tbearties now represented
Giving the Prime Minister authority to choose and dismiss ministers at will rather than accepting the nominees of his coalition partners.
constructive" vote of no-confidence, again as in West Germany, which would force politicians to agree on an alternative government before bringing one down.
toward functional specialization of the two houses of Parliament,
lessen redundancy and opportunities lo delay, change, or kill
reforms would not revolutionize Italian politics, but they would go far toward consolidating the party system, bolstering the authority of the Prime Minister, and limiting the scope for parliamentary obstructionism. Any progress in tbat direction would, in turn, reduce the risk of social unrest and instability and make politicians less dependent on Communist assistance in making the system work. None of this woulduarantee against Communist membership in thecotM not be if proponents of reform arc to win the Communist acquiescence their plans almost certainly require But, in our view, the increased governmental efficiency that could result would, over the long term, be the most effective antidote to the wotcil movement tbat has swelled Communist ranks in recent year
of the System
of the System
Changing Political Culture?
Parties and Reform
Toward Reform Under Craxi 8
for Further Change **
Italy: Tbe Quest
for Mote Effective Coternrncn
Refonn of luly'* political iiutiiuiions has only recenl-lyatter for serious attention, evrjt though the vecakncsses of the parliamentary system have long been obvious. These weaknesses include an electoral system that hai parceled out powerelter of small and medium-sized panics, an executive too weak to lead,arliament whose rules and procedures utbibit the timely passage of even key legislation. These sveaknessca are widely citedajor reason for tbe failure of successive governments to cope with the country's persistent economic prcb*economicate of inflation well above that of other major industrialufgeor.iig government deficit, and blgbJ
Most Italian political parties did not deal seriously with tbe institutional refonn question until tbeelection last June when the Socialistsin highlighting the issue. Tbe electionraised public consciousness about reform, and gince then ibe parties have cooperated enough to take sorae Initial steps toward changing tbe system. Tbeir ability aod svillingnea to persist in renovating tbe creaky machinery of government could prove crucial to the long-term political and economic stability of
This paper sets out the weaknesses of the present system1 and examines the political panics' attitudes toward refonn. It reviews the extent of the reforms to date and weighs prospects for further, morereforms. Finally, it assesses the implications fortbe Uniledthe success orof tbe reform movement!
Roots of ibe System
Experts commonly trace the weaknesses of the lulian political system to8 Constitution, which was drafted against tbr backdrop of the fascist experience
and the extreme political disunity of the pcsisvar years. The postwar political fragmentation itself bad deep roots in Italian history aod culture. Intciparty rivalry and intraparly factionalism, then as now. were fueled not onlyide spectrum of ideological and regional differences but by an inordinate emphasis on ribution of political and economic
To ensure the support of ihe diverse political forces andreclude return to authoritarian rule, the system was deliberately teasedispersal of power. The Conitituiion was designed to make poUti-cal institutions reflect the diverse political forces in lulian society, ll providesarliamcnUr> jyjiem
with many checks on tbe power of the governing
majority and few mechanisms to bolster j
The cost io terms of government efficiency and effectiveness was high, but the negative aspects of the Constiiuiion were not immediately apparent because many of iu provbions were net fully implemented until. To limit Marxist influence, the Christian Democratic (Denominated governments of tbendorked hard to ensure that most decisiormaking power resided in the cabinet rather lhan in Parliament. The Parliament begao to gain the central position intended by the Constitution onlyradual politicalwhich began with the breakup of thePopular Front in thend continued with the admission of tbe Socialist Party (PSI) to the governing coalitionn thend, both thewere disappointed with their limited leverage in center-leflthe Communists began to press for greater fidelity to the letter of the Constitution and anf the role of Parllaraen
Allleuih (here hu beeneriticlim of other national iiuiiiiiitord.he iu&elal system and the governmentalc. uopt ofc it Untiled to poliiKal iaxlw
Tbe Soeiauil* snd Communistsuioin| major changes in parliamentaryhscb iacreased ihe rok of Parliament and of Ibetnta. Tbe changes induced
Shifting euthooty to mi ihe parbsnseaury agenda from the presidents of the Wo housesommit-tee of pany leaden.
Strengthening ihe power* of ihe parliamentary eonunitteea.
. Increaiini the access oftheinformation through direct links io tpcfc instuuuociithe National Statistical
AccorcVis lo asaay lulian observers. Use DC and tbe small centrist panics accented these change*eans of co-opting the ever more powerfulParty (PCI) Into tbeprocess without allowing it into the governmenl.eauli, however, the Cotnmunlit* and other minority parties gained considenble influence la ibc legislativeIndeed, at tbe bright of the PCI'soDC and PCI rnorcdWstoricnder whkh thec*ided parliamentary support for the governing ccadrtioo in return for policy conccs-
Wesdinesers of the Sytttfl Mmldpmrtrown or so panics are usually represented intbe moment thereritics of the system commonly blsme the large comber of parties oa tbe excessiveof tbe formotai used to elect members lo the iwo houses of Parliament. In fact, tbe com pi reeled formula used to elect members to the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, was specifically'designed to help small panics gain repeesenlaliooj
The primary drawback of the Italian system Is thst it inhibits the formation of cohesive parliamentarybased on clear electoral mandates Ii has encouraged weak multipsrty coalitions formed on the basis ef fxsteJect.cn political horse trading Tbeinterests of the participating parties sad their continual maneuvenng for advantage has loo often enticed political leaders lo focus more on political intrigue lhan serious policymaking. The result hasymied leglilalive process and thoil-lived governmenu.
Indeed, maneuvering and strife within governinghave increased with ibe long-term decline of tbe Christian rjernocratk Party and with ibeecent years of the smaller parties of the ceeter and cente.-kfl-tac Republican Partyhe Libera! Parly fPLlj. the Social Democralic Party (PSDfl, and Ihe Socialist Party (PSI) Thb latest shift in political waght was discernible In9 parliamentary election and glaringly evident In the parliamentary electionoreover.3 the Communists, despite their own smaller electoralame closer than ever before to matching tbe DCs represeBtstloo in Parliament- Tbe narrowing of the margin between tbe DC snd the PCI has aagni-fed tbe leverage of smeller parties in the majority coalition beyond their increased electoral strength As tbe DC'i dominance has declined, dissension within the majority has increased (see table)
Like the parliamentary majority, the opposition Is also divided. It Include* the neofaseist lulian Social Movementeveral single-issue and regional protest parties, ihc Communist Pany. tbe small kfi-wieg Radical Party,mslUar-kfuanies^
ur> rules thst provide many epporiunities lotbstruction, hai complicated the legislative proce-encrmousl'
Weak Extcutite, Scholar* and political observers have also focused on the lack of strong ea-eutive leadership ssfactor inhibiting concerted policy formulation and inipienvenuiioo. They have cbsraeierired the system as -government byaiher lhan -cabinetr. reference to the squabbling and lack of coordination among tbe numerous minis-
The prime minister has traditionally functioned morehairmanommittee thanlrong lesder. He lacks,mple. the legal authority to anpoini or replace ministers. In fact, the prime minister and his cabinet bold office on the basisrecarious LIU III smon. pany snd factional leaders Tbeeven party fact>ceis-cons-ler rmmsten from their group as their -delegation to theabinetirst loyally
Percent of lb* Vol. and Sao Woo
.3 EfeclioM, by Party
Chamber o( Deeuiki
b lo hb party or faction, not io ihe govero-mcni. lie tends to tee bb mlnUtryehicle for distributing patronaxe and farthering party or fac-ticaial iatcrata. iu)
PmriiMmtmuwjey factor to thedifficulty ot* gciting progrxcu throngb thebe complex set of procedural rules ofO-member Chamber of Depones, particularly the rule* permitting meal majoron to be subjectedonetequestecret vote hi the Chamber or in cocnmitiec, for example, takes precedenceallolkall vote, and even liny trunontica can callecret vote. Until very recently, one party group leader1 oreputies could
ecret ballot in the full assembly; inarty group representative or five committee members could request one- Students of Italianpoint out that by weakening theof indrriduab and factions the secret voteparty disdpline and increases the chances thatrograms will be delayed, changed, or killed
Disruption ol trie legislative process due to seerei rotes has worsened witb tbe decline of tie DC arid the trend toward larger multiparty governing coalitions evident since in the. Three lialianhave fallen duectlyesult of defections in secret voles, and others have resigned rather thanossey secret votOj
Cruras*.party jrw> oouuu of al
panic* villi leu0 depuua sasts.ptnfli
(roup undo tctule eiieutniuaecaJ
Another complaint often voiced i* ibe ease with which legislators can resort to filibustering. Tbe liny Radical and other far-lefi parlies in recent years have made particuUtHy abusive and disruptive use or this device. Accenting to ltauan political commentators, these groups increasingly have engaged in filibusteringeans of pressing for concessions even on issues not related to the legislation under debate]
Another common target of eriikbrn is the lack of control by the Prime Minister and the coalition parties over the parliamentary agenda. Asa result of1 rules changes, the agenda for each bouse is set by unanimous agreement of the party group leaders In that house. This provides oppositionsometimes recalcitrant minorities within tbe governinga dc facto veto over what is considered and when. Agenda disputes mayajority vote in each house, bulorjme ministers have seldom used this provision)
Tbe excessive duplication in Italy's bicameralsystem also pointlessly impedes tbe passage of legislation, according to many critics. The cabinet is responsible to both bouses, and alt legislation must be passed by both tbe Chamber of Deputies and thelso, differences in tbe electoral formulas for the Senate and the Chamber have failed to produce any meaningful representational distinction between them
Breaking the Lotjem by Decree
Governments hove sought lo avoid frequentImpastes by resorting lo decrees. Thegrants governments the authority to enact decrees thai have lhe force of low but thai are automatically revoked if not tonverted Into law by Parliament withinays. The decree provision was Intended for short-ierm use In emergencies, but in recent years governments have increasingly usedto obtain timely enactmentide range of ordinary legislation. In fact, lhe decree mechanism has been used to often thai It has practically become the normal way ofill. Contrary to the constitutional provision, some decrees have beenup to three
Hot only Is this use of the decree noi provided for in the Constitution, bul It has proved counterproductive. Some critics argue lhat ll has skewed legislative activity toward immediate, partial solutions andlong-term policy planning and coherence. Others point out lhal governmenl decrees have been entirely changed by Parliament without governments consideringign of no confidence. They charge that decrees boih fail to avoid major changes in governmenl programs, and further obscure lheof parties and Individual representatives to the electorate
by Internal strife aad faced witb frequent parliamentary impasses, governments haverisked falling before they get even key(such as the budget and the finance law) passed. In these circumsunccs, governments have attempted to get their bills enacted intact andimely fashion by resorting to "emergency" decrees (see inset).
A Chajqetog PoUtkalhe Italian press, public, and politicians havefor years about institutional problems, but until recently no one was prepared to make some of the hard choices required to remedy tbe situation.
of >ne limitedo-er Hatin lhe USuamplc tSt Sonie'i power io approve Utaliuuiwui appoinlBMMi and itic How's0 iaiilati bllli issbtenl la lub|
' Whirui oj ifmol paniath bout* in the US Control. ihU hu never occurred ia llsbj
Attempts at reform were discouraged because nearly everyoneignificant stake in Italy's consensus-style politicalthat was built on patron-client relationship* and designed loroad spectrum of phflosophkal views, It is difficult to documenthange in attitude is occuiring, but press and US Embassy reporting as well as scholarly studies suggest that public sentiment may be building for government to take decisive action for the commonif ll means tolerating less philosophical diversity and sacrificing some clientele interests. In our view, the major parties, particularly the Socialists, sensehange, and their new stress on reform is probably an effort to capitalize
To be we, ibe growing public interest in reform renectidesire to deal more effectively wilb certain Pioblems of the rnoersent. such as the flagging ecoivc-my and tbe inefficiency of tbe goverr.memBul we believe tbe focus on reform probably altorowing conviction among the politicianstbe public that the country is running out of options in its search for effective government. Since the adccKion of8 Constitution, psrty leadersried centrist. Lirattr itgfc, and center-left coali-toawevoything soon of bringing the Communist, into the gr^trnmcnt Nod. of these cosktioni bat proved very durable, and none haso. mined and consistent stuck oa the locial reeblems that ban acccerspai ermraticn- lo our vsew. Use growing bebef lhal pgasssV cians have eabsusted the CMjoasa available in the current framework hasew openness tosi least tinkering with-the existing system.ountry as tradition bound as luly, evenimited snd tenutive willingness to alter the system amountsignificant change in political thinking I
Tbe Parties and Reform
Tht Sociaiius. The Socialists became the first lo advocate institutions! changeshe PSI look advaBiage of1 partlarnenury campaign to highlight iu reformist position snd to push iu ptopos-
Tbe Socialist recipe for reform seeks lo ensure that Use governing majority can take liroely. decisive se-lioo. Ia essence, tbe Socialists propose tec
Sueogthen tbe offices of the president and prime cutis ter.
Bar the smallest parties from independent parlia-menury rereesenution.
pecucc the ccpocianities for minority obstruction.
ihree delegates from eacii region. Although thehave not proposed specific slept to strengthen the president's constitutional powers, the; argue lhal direct election would enhance his moral authoiuy and strengthen his roleubilizing forceJ
The Socialists also call for several changes aimed at reducing the frequency of gemc/ament crises and strengthening the office cf prime minister. They have proposed thai the prime minister be designated by ihc Parliament for the length of ibeeriod of up to five years. They -ant lo introduce the West German mechanism of 'ccesstnuciive iso-onnfidencender this proposal the pteewseauould bsvc to be able to offer a
. The Seraalisu also havecreatingsbinetinnermade up of majorgiving the prime minister authority to choose and replace minister, at will and to reduce the size of thew Social Lit proposals appear designed to limit ihe scope for political sabouge and to reduce Ihe primeneed to cater to the conflicting interests of his parliamentarysum, to pui the prime ministerosition to eaercise strong leadenbip.
The Sccialtsu also favor borrowing from Westelectoral law the concept of an electorala party tonlsge of the vote in order toresentation inhey hive proposed selling that threshold al 5Ifule bad been in force for ibe last election, sine of thearties now In Parliament would have been eadoded. inditding two of the small parties in Ibe present five party cenur-kfl governing majority. As to reforms in parliamentary procedure, tbe PSI has called for limiting the use of the secret ballot sad other legislative procedures that encourage excessive minority obstruct
More specifically, the Socialist program proposes (he direct election of ihe president, who is head of slate,ive-year term. The president now Is electedeven-year term by the houses of Parliament and
' Ihc prcuMni'i po-tsi meow the uwinstoniwtor esimplc he .rectal, ihc pnmc mlnUicr. can dittthc PirUuatnt and call acw alecucacU commander la tint of- piaciba. tbe prciUcnil asl.il iiflucact hiiwiU. Itafitsottuiiyihclo.lt> io ill limin| |
The PSIadvocates i
, both ibe electoral diiiricu and finc-
i ofo chambers. Theyhai ihe lower bow be elected on iheiagle-triember districts ind thai ihe Senate beby proportions) voting baied on regional Ibu. They hare proposed living ibe Senaie sole responaibil-ity for economic and rinancial matters, presumablyouldmaller and more manageable body
sueitgtben gewnmeat authority as schemes toout of Ihe decisionmaking
At tbe same time, lhe Communlsu recogaiie that the Socialists' advocacy of institutional reforms mayconsiderable public appeal. The PCI cannot afford to appear reactionary or allow tbe PSI to gain ground at iu cipense. Accordingly, at their Party Congress in3 and In the election campaign last year, the PCI endeavored ioew face on old positions by highlighting syslemieweaknesses thai they could blame on iheir rivals!-
our view, there Is more to the Socialistesire to achieve ahort-rangcIn essence,rying lothai tbehe party that knows what totbe cpoimon good--eeonorokdoreform. Nevertheless, theof the PSI have been quick lo point outSocialist jaoposais are aho rooted ina small bet crucial awing party, tbesIceg as the Christian Democratsatclaimas the price oftaprxet lodeed. at the traseBt,both the pnroe-rnitustry aad thetoe PSI can best turn ils present political
ecord of accomptbbmcnt. Al least in current curatostances, the Sodalbt Partyirect stake in strengthening ihe powers of lhe prime minb-ter. en ha nan. tbe authority of th* preaident. and nunhrdpng the ability of the opposition lo obstruct government legislative programs. At the same lime, the PSI believes iu chances of increasing Us share of tbe vole will be enhanced as much as the other larger parties If the smallest parties are excluded from PailiamenJ
Specifically. tv: Communbts attributed governmental Inefficiency mainly to ibe patronage practices of the tradilional governing parties They argued thai the system of preference votes' used in the election of the Chamber of Deputiesivbive emphasis on personal power bases and political favoritism and should be revised. They have provided no blucpriot for lhat revision, and they so far have -ruled oui" changes in proportional reincarnation. The PCI has. however, generally coeceded the cred lo reduce the sire of the cabinet in order to facilitate executive coordination bat hai oceused oj>eiroeorjr>tah designed to bolster executive aulboritij
The Communiiu have called for some parliarrrcntary reforms designed to simplify parllamenuryand accelerate tbe legislative process. These reforms uould cut the number of depunei in tbe Chamber by half and abolbh Ihe Senate; CommunUt adrocacy or unicameralism dates back to8 Constituent Assembly. In addition, tbe PCI haidevoting one parliamentary session delusively lo Ihe budget, terminating "catch-all" decree lavn. and consolidatingiaecommit ices toonsolidated cabinet
Cemmu*att. In contrail lo the Soelalbu, Ibe PCI tradiiionallv has opposed alteringesbied strengthening the government, and sought to cipand the authority of Parliament. We attribute lheosition to ill longtime eaelusion from govemment and iu -outsider" status. Iuon the centra! role of Parliament is designed to ensure lheignificant rote and to increase iu influence, even without officially participating in lhe government- The Communists consider proposals to
' WhalboaaUa tht Chamber of bcrvitt*.dultnaiipari* andMiOM mi, can prtraitac* -dim ret Individual undidaici
on ihe int. Tat Older InIk*aul Hill ii dcti'tiuuda*-oitaNSahW
Ii i3 but iheirlr. whirt nil.a eimlidaiaaadidaieswdueiiwmI
. Nslio-arf*.perwiu of ita DC
u tan ft*thaa
prisingly.PCI hu exposed al>oliiion of ibc .cert! MM snd been coal toward prceosals lo restricte Communisl* have round Ihe secretardy tool for taking advsnUge or disharmony within the governing inaiority. Last fall, foe example, Ccer. muni*', opposition and defection* from ihc DCecret vote defeatedgovernment bill to grant tax amneity to illegal construction pcoject*.|
lit*imotfti The DC isoosely knit complex of factionsarty, and its views on Institution,il reform are as diffuse and contradictory as its structure. The DC platform for theelection3 basically set forth the position of party Secretary Ciriaco DeMiia. one of the few DCs secretaries to come from the reformist wing of tbe
The DCs position oo reform was cautious and vague. It rejected drastic institutional changes, bat rapported broiled changes to improve government's capacity io take acuon. It cxpbtiuy rejected tbe Socialist! for curectof the pres.de.tt and ibeproposal to
thortcurs-It defendeduaraetor of pluralism and freedom ando the nonceercent *gWll threshold, th implicitly rejecting
DC reluctance to tinker much with tbe system is not surpriiing. Tha system beam the mark of the DC more lhan lhat of any other party. Moreover, the consensus-style system and diffusion of responsibility have suited Ihe loosely knit DC well over many years. To keep its diverse constituencies together, the DC has traditionally preferred to disperse responsibility al the cost of achievement. This tendency has been reinforced by the weakening of the tics thai originally bound the panyand Ca-tholiciimj
Tbe strategy, however, hu become less effective. Evenhe DCs share of the vote had erodedumber of DC leaders had acknowledged thai public Impatience with the failure of successive governments to cope with Italy's*as nuking the traditional strategy of avoiding action increasingly costly. Moreover, the DC. like the Conunuaitta.io steal some of the PSI'*oa the iutic of reft
Party leader De Mua'ssohnion i* lo oblige parties to commit themselves toocosnoo program* in advance of elections Hit rationale for preelection pact*that theylarify the electoral mandate.
Increase party responsibility to the electorate.
Curtail party bargaining and maneuvering for
Tbe DC platform did not telpecific blueprint, but subsequently DC leaden have suggested giving bonus seats to coalitions of parties that winplurality of the votes in elections. This proposal is opposed ty the tinaller parties and the PCI.
In addition, the DC hu supported the adoption of tbe constructive no-confidence mechanism and abolition of ibe secret ballot. It still waffles oo the role of the prime minister, offeringague rvopotsl to reinforce hit authorityote of confidence thai would focus on "himifferent way from tbe rest of thebe party hat favored tbe esiaWithmeat of an inner cabinet of tbe most important trusters, but suit empbssiics tbefoe cotlegtal responsibility within ihe cabinet As for Parliament, the DC it on record tn support of an ilt-deftned -adequate reduction" in tbe site of Pulia-meat and has called for the establishment of special patliacientaty icsiioni to dealmajor issues like the budget ^ |
The Small Ponlei. The small centristRepublican Partyhe Liberal Partyod the Social Democratic Partyhaveinstitutional reform with caution. They are cool to direct election of the President, and they oppose unicomeralUm and modification* ofrepresentation, which could mean theiror subordination to larger parties. On tbe other hand, they support some Jiem to improveefficiency, such as meaiurts designed loparliamentary procedure* and bolster executive aycrdinaiion. "hey prefer, however, to limit raiher than aboliih ihe seciet void
The ncofstcist Italian Social Movemenlhich usually win* mote votes lhan any of tbe small centrist parties but it excluded front coalition t. advocates a
new "neocorporate" political order. It oppose* trying to improve the working* of the existing democratic system on theground* that the system should .nstead be abolished|
The liny Radical Party's major contribution to reform has been negative. Iu habitual use of parliamentary procedures to obstruct business and promote its own goals has added to ihe impetus for reform and to efforts to streamline parliamentary procedures. More positively. Its exposure of ihe abuse of decree laws has added thai issue io tbe reform agenda!
Movetnent Toward Reform Under Craxi Wc believe tbat the attention tbe major patties have paid to usstitutional reform since3 election campaigneluctance to concede the issue to the Scesslbuear of public condemnation for faUure to respond to the nation's problems- Most Italian commentators interpret the DCs unexpected lossercentage poiau of the vote and the PCI'* much less dramatic losses as confirmation thai public patience with the major parties is indeed finally running out- Focusing public attention on tbehas the advantage of diverting attention from the failings of the individual parties)
In our view, efforu by the other parties lo exploit tho bsue have made Craxi and the PSI all the more intent on achieving reforms for which Ihey can take credit and -hich would strengthen their ability toan effective program. Craxi has so far focused his effort* on making Quick progress on the least controversial reforms. According tcj press reports, be has soughl to use
tionary powers to streamline ihe processes ofHeor example,Cabinet Council" of major ministers to make key polky decisions. This Cabinet Council includes seniorof the parties in the governing coalition and has the political weight to address controversial policy
In addition, Craxi has succeeded Inackage of procedural changes through the Chamber ofFirst, the reQuirements for making someas requesting rollcall and secretbeen tightened to curtail disruptions of ihc legislative process by tiny minorities (see insert).
Second, changes in the Chamber rules no* providetrictlyday parliamentary session for budget and finance legislation. The new rules arc designed to prevent these key bills from gelling held up in commiiiee. They also strictly limit thellotted party groups in the full Chamber.
The effectiveness of these rules changes cannot bt evaluated because they hove not been fully tested. The new rules probably aided passage of4 Budget and Finance Law last December, the first time8overnment had met the end-of-year
According lo press reports, the Socialists had pressed for even tighter restrictions on the use of ihe secrcl vote and wanted to eliminate Its use on revenue mallets. The Socialist proposals ran Into stifffrom the Communisu and other leftist parties, as well as resistance from some Quarters of the DC and the small center parties
Prospects for Further Change
Tbe executive and parliamentary reforms achieved lo dale arc the product of least common denominator compromises among ihc major parties and onlyImprove ihc system's efficiency. NcverthckM. because they have general support, we doubt they will be undone. Moreover, wc believe these reforms could be ihe opening wedgerocess leading to more far-reaching changes. Although much of the impetus for institutional reform has come from Prime Minister Craxi. we think there is enough interest in change io keep the issue alive beyond his tenure as Prime Minbieip
Press reporu indkaic lhat ihc Chamber of Deputies willecond package of rules changes sometimehis package reportedly willproposals lo:
Establish special procedures for "prefetcnl'alof key legislation
Chamber ofDeyutici- Eiample af Rules Ckangti Voder Craxi
Toail-Call Vote la ihretter Vote In iht full assembly
epulies or one or meet leaders of parly groups' representingtasieputies
Before it took:
eputiesingle parly group leader
Now ii takes:
SO depulies or one o' more leaders of parly groupsrepresenting al least SO depulies
Btfere it look:
epuliesingle party group leader
all-Call Vott in
ecret Vote In committee
four committer members or one orarty group which alone or togtlher bene four ot more commiiire members.
Now ii takes:
five committee mtmbers or one orarty, which alone or together have five or more commtitte members.
four committee memberstprtscntativtarty group
Before ilcommit ire membenepresentative of a
ert? trouf lonlllti of tllluttti. so'
Iqi lhanierllti mny brprrmlllrS
beaereeasonably good chance tbat luch additional rules changes fill be achieved in the sear term, because they are generally consistent wiih the limited reforms agreed to thus far. Inicameral cooimiliee has been established and charged with recommending further electoral and constitutional reforms to Parliament in October. All panic, except the neofaacisU and ihc smallupported tbe csublishrncnl of ibe committee
la general, funher institutional reforms will hinge on Ihe extent to which the main panics see theirinterests served by such changes. We believe, for example, tbat electoral tosses by the DC and the PCI have enhanced the prospects for movemenl onreform. Ib ourhe DC and PCI might be tempted to support tbe PSI's proposalhreshold for parliamentary representatKa. especially if their tupport at the polls continues to erode
i reports Indicate, in fact, that scenend Christian Democrats already are seeking to find common ground on icforms, although so far without success. And If the smaller PKf continues to attract moreercent of the vole as it didt too could suppon the PSI proposal.!
Tbe political consolidation entailedercent threshold would greatly change tbe configuration of Italian politics. All of the ctppositiofl parties, except the PCI and MSI. and at least two ofarlies in ihe present five-party governing coalmon-lhe PSDlprobably be forced lo merge with larger parties Because this would be suchradical change in tbe system, Ihc parties en ghl eventually settleower threshold
This is not to sayecond Republic is at hand. To the contrary, the roots of the politicaland fear of autboritarhobm that have fostered tbe developmentonsensus-style system go deep. Change is likely to be slow and incremental.we believe thai movement to increaseetTtcieocy and decisiveness will go in theof consolidating the party system, bolstering tbe
power of the governiig major scope for minority obstmctk*
The net effect of the reform process, however, is less clear thin its direction. For example, one of the more likely reformadoptionhreshold for representation iohave the efleet, by forcing party mergers, of converting inter-party rivalries into intra party factionalism. Indeed, il is uncertain whether any procedural or electoral changes can moderate the effect on government* of the serological, regional, and clientele rivalries that have soaped Italian politics.
Similarly. press reporting suggests lhal* consensus may also be developing in favor of constitutional changes' designed io insulate government from ibend factional power draggles thai have made governments notoriously weak and shortconstructive no-conffdtr.ee pro-nnon and for giving lhe Prime Minister the authority to choose and replace ministers appear most popular. We .tso see general interest in constitutional changes to reduce the sire and redundancy of the presentsystem. The various iiroposals are still far apart, but press reportsaiberins consensus in favorunctional special!ration of the two hou.'cs.
ublic backlash against Craxiverbearingstyle could trigger fears of resurgentand compromise the movement for reform.
A precipitous plunge in the fortunes of the reformiii wing of the DC could reduce the momentum of reform effort.
A political polarization and the isolation of the PCI could lead to Communbt interest in pcipeiualing weak
We believe that the least likely prospect is for thechange that would rcsullore radicalof roliucaltark divisionand opposition, oreturn togovernmenl. Only extraordinary events, suchwar. extreme natural disaster, or economicprecipitate such
The increased governmenl efficiency and decisiveness that could result from moderate, incremental change could go far toward reducing the threat of social anrext. political instability, and even terrorist activity io Italy. Thb would obviously serve US interests given Italy's strategic Importanceember of NATOediterranean power and itsajor industrial country. Moreover, reform could reduce lhe tendency of Italian politicians to look to the Communists for assbtancc in keeping tbe system running. Butay from asysum cannot exclude the possibility of Commusbt cabinet participation If Communistin reform is to be won.ven possible that the consolidation of the party system thiough changes tn proportional representation couldopen the way for tbe first Communbt-Socialbt majority of the postwar period. Nevertheless, we believe thai lhe increased governmental effectiveness thai could come through institutional reform would be lhe best insurance against popular support for Ihe Communbts and Communbt participalion in the cabinetOriginal document.