In the early 1990s, Italian democracy entered a phase of transition involving far-reaching changes. It was a peculiar institutional transition in the democratic sphere. The 1994 general election marked the end of a political system which had been in place since the very first legislature. The media?s definition of this fracture as ?the end of the first Republic? was considered improper by many political analysts because the institutional arrangement created by the Constitution, the constitutional framework and system of government were not altered in their fundamentals, at least at a normative level. Only the electoral law changed considerably in 1993 and 2005. Nevertheless, it did start up several processes that would last for years: the significant transformation of the format and dynamics of the party system, the process of personalization of politics, the bipolarization of the political system, the introduction of regular changes in government, the development of the relationship between Parliament and Government and a different relationship between the centre and the periphery. In view of these dynamics, other analysts have talked in terms of a ?Second Republic? or even ?Third Republic?, thereby considering the transition period over. The only other comparable case known in terms of intensity and discontinuity is the transition from the Fourth Republic to the Fifth Republic in France. Therefore, has Italy moved towards a ?delegate democracy?, a ?populist democracy? or a high quality democracy with a high degree of rule of law, accountability, responsiveness, full respect of rights and progressive achievement of more political, economic and social equality? Authoritative Italian political scientists use Ljiphart?s polar typology to examine the extent and kind of changes, agreeing that the Italian system is shifting towards the majority model described by Lijphart but disagreeing on the conclusions . Others conclude that Italy is still a consensus democracy. This debate contains several interesting elements in order to evaluate how much the system has actually changed and how far it is from being a stable equilibrium marking a definitive end to the transition period.
1.1 Endogenous and exogenous causes of the transition process
As empirical analysis suggests, a democratic crisis can be seen in a rapid growth of dissatisfaction and anti-establishment feelings in the population, as noted by Pharr and Putnam, in the lack of confidence in parliament, the legal system, the army, the police and the bureaucracy, as pointed out by Newton and Norris, or with reference to corruption, poor law enforcement and low responsiveness, as suggested by Della Porta and Morlino ...
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