Claudio Segrè

  • Democracy, Italian Style by Joseph LaPalombara
    Yale, 308 pp, £14.95, November 1987, ISBN 0 300 03913 1

‘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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