Finding a party and losing some friends: overcoming the weaknesses of the prime ministerial figure in Italy
O'Malley, Eoin and Cavatorta, Francesco (2004) Finding a party and losing some friends: overcoming the weaknesses of the prime ministerial figure in Italy. Contemporary Politics, 10 (3-4). pp. 271-286. ISSN 1469-3631
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Silvio Berlusconi poses a problem for the existing literature on prime ministers and their power. Though Italian prime ministers are traditionally seen as weak, Berlusconi has been able to achieve some remarkable policy gains during his current term as prime minister. This article uses veto player theory and combines it with existing institutional and political explanations for variation in prime ministerial power to look at this challenging case. By looking at the number of veto players in the Italian system, and their ability to credibly use their veto against Berlusconi, an explanation is posited which can accommodate the exceptionalism of his second term in office. Despite the emphasis on his control of the media, we conclude that Berlusconi's power stems from more traditional political factors. The authors argue that Berlusconi's coalition and party allies have no choice but to accept his will and his decisions, as any alternatives are less appealing.
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