chapter  5
22 Pages

Italy

When responsibility fails. Parliamentary opposition in times of crisis
WithFrancesco Marangoni, Luca Verzichelli

This chapter investigates the recent transformations of parliamentary opposition in Italy: an interesting case in point, given the emergence of the economic crisis and a new party actor – the Five Star Movement – which determined a significant change in the dynamics of parliamentary democracy, after a long period marked by the alternation between a centre-right and a centre-left coalition. The analysis of legislative and non-legislative activity of the opposition parliamentary groups confirm the impression of a rather complicated picture: on the one hand, the few signs of a new “Westminster-like” style of parliamentary government, somehow institutionalised during the previous age of alteration, seems to have disappeared. On the other hand, some of the traditional “consensus” features of the Italian parliamentary democracy return, in a completely different and unclear scenario: mainstream parties look extremely fragmented and tend to lose their usual responsibility, while new anti-establishment (and anti-Europeanist) oppositions, particularly those on the far-right side and the Five Star Movement itself, do not seem to be able to overcome their status of responsive but not-enough reliable actors, potentially ready to take new responsibilities as the pillar of a new government coalition.