In 2001, for the first time in the history of the Italian Republic, an opposition replaced the incumbent government as a consequence of an electoral victory. In the May General Election, the center-left government was ousted and a new right-right majority came into office. It would be premature to suggest that this election represents the birth of a new Italian political system, one that will be based on an ongoing alternation in government between two coalitions and a realignment of voters and parties. Nevertheless, the second Berlusconi government - aside from the various political judgments of it - undoubtedly constitutes an institutional and political novelty. This is not just because the left-left proved unable, in the election campaign, to exploit its achievements in office when confronted with someone with undoubted (if controversial) abilities, but also because of the likely impact of the new government on policy making and Italy's economic, social and international trajectory. This edition of Italian Politics evaluates the 2001 election and impact and analyzes the electoral success of the right, the election campaign, the crisis of the left-left after the defeat, and the composition of the new parliament.
Paolo Bellucci is Professor of Political Science at the University of Molise at Isernia, Italy, and is part of the Cattaneo Institute's research group, ITANES.
Martin Bull is Professor of Politics at the University of Salford, UK. His recent publications include Crisis and Transition in Italian Politics.