Claudio Segrè

Claudio Segrè Italo Balbo: A Fascist Life was published by the University of California Press last year. He is a professor of modern European history at the University of Texas at Austin.


Claudio Segrè, 2 June 1988

‘Democracy, Italian style’? The words will strike the general reader as an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. As everyone knows, Italy is the country of perpetual political crises, where there have been 45 national governments in forty years. In Italy tax evasion is a way of life, one adult in three votes Communist, the state itself is simultaneously at war with the Mafia, the Vatican and political terrorists. How could democracy take root in such an environment? Yet it has. ‘I know of no post-war democracy with a better record than Italy’s,’ Joseph LaPalombara, a professor of political science at Yale, proclaims. If the Italian version doesn’t measure up to our standards of how a democracy should behave, LaPalombara suggests, then maybe we should revise or expand our theories of democracy.

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