Twenty years after the Tangentopoli corruption scandal, the dissolution of the ruling Christian Democrat party, the emergence of a major new centre-right party and the introduction of a new electoral system, Italy continues to face many of the same social, economic and political problems as before. The dominant discourse has been of a Second Republic, emerging in the 1990s, which was to have delivered major constitutional reform and a more representative relationship between politicians and voters. Since this has not happened, Italy is now said to face transition to a Third Republic.
Paul Furlong argues that in fact there has been no Second Republic, only a period of dissolution. He tracks the continuities with the First Republic as well as the major institutional changes in Italian politics, society and political economy since 1994, analysing how and why the Second Republic has gone missing and what can be done about it. He argues that a Republic founded on commitment to European integration needs to find a new way of dealing with Europe and that many of the positive values of the First Republic social equality, representative democracy, pluralist citizenship and regional diversity must be reclaimed for Italy to regain confidence on the European and world stage.
Paul Furlong is Emeritus Professor of European Studies at the University of Cardiff.