Policy choices and socioeconomic divides: long-term changes in Italy’s democratic quality
The general elections held in February 2013 marked an earthquake in Italian politics. The two coalitions on the center-left and center-right that had governed Italy alternately between 1996 and 2011 together lost 11 million votes compared to the 2008 elections. The explanations advanced for this electoral outcome generally have to do with two connected factors: citizens’ disgust with political corruption and privileges of the politicians in general, and the distress many households are suffering as a consequence of the most severe economic crisis experienced by Italy in recent history. This paper points to a third, more structural one: the deterioration in substantive dimensions of Italy’s democratic quality over the past 20 years, those related to equality, services and social security, thus impacting directly on individual life chances. Such socioeconomic outcomes are the result of policy choices (both deliberate action and deliberate inaction, or failure to act) implemented by both center-left and center-right governments, although with variations on a common theme.
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