In 2008, Silvio Berlusconi returned to power - thanks to a decisive electoral victory - to head a slimmer coalition whose cabinet consisted of members very close to him. The year began with the garbage crisis in Naples and ended in a climate dominated by ecomic uncertainty. In between some unexpected events happened: during the administrative elections, held with the general elections in April, the right in Rome claimed many victories; for the first time ever, a woman, Emma Marcegaglia, was elected President of Confindustria; and the Alitalia airline had to be rescued from the brink of ecomic collapse. For consecutive months, opinion polls gave Berlusconi an unprecedented level of popular support; those polled attributed their approval to either his 'decisionism' or to what they viewed as a successful strategy of continual anuncements. Others pointed to the executive's success in 'governing the fears' of Italians, which was helped by a change of register in the way the media dealt with issues of security. This volume shows that the politics of vetoes, which characterised the previous center-left government, could t conceal the structural, ecomic and social problems that still need to be resolved, a situation t helped by the fact that the opposition parties were still unable to develop an effective political strategy by yearend. With the contribution of Italian and international experts, the volume also addresses the issues of the difficult integration of immigrants, the mismanagement of public health and the reform of the education.
Gianfranco Baldini is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Bologna, where he teaches Parties and Pressure Groups in the European Union and the European Political System. His recent publications include Elections, Electoral Systems and Volatile Voters, with A. Pappalardo (Palgrave 2009), and La Francia di Sarkozy, co-edited with Marc Lazar (Il Mulino, 2007). Anna Cento Bull is Professor of Italian History and Politics in the Department of European Studies and Modern Languages, University of Bath. Her recent publications include Italian Neofascism: The Strategy of Tension and the Politics of Non-Reconciliation (Berghahn 2007) and Speaking Out and Silencing: Culture, Society and Politics in Italy in the 1970s, co-edited with Adalgisa Giorgio (Legenda 2006).