Italy’s political institutions during the period of the ‘First Republic’ have often been considered rather inefficient: this is because they were characterised by heterogeneous coalitions racked by internal strife, unstable cabinets, a cumbersome legislative process and a mass of legislation, consisting mainly of small-scale measures incapable of generating any incisive process of reform even when the country was up against an alarming level of growth in public debt, as was the case in the 1980s. The Italian political system at that time has been rightly described as ‘a highly bargained pluralist democracy with power dispersed across a wide range of arenas’ (Hine 1993: 3). It featured a multiplicity of party-political and institutional veto players, variously distributed across both the centre and the outer fringes of the political arena, both in government and in parliament. Indeed, it was rather difficult to say whether government possessed a ‘core’, and if it did, where this core lay: whether at Palazzo Chigi, the Prime Minister’s headquarters, or in Piazza del Gesù, headquarters of the Christian Democratic Party (DC); whether within the cabinet, or in the Council of Parliamentary Group Leaders, or in fact in the ‘summits’ held by the leaders of those parties constituting the governmental majority.