Between systemic corruption and anticorruption: political scandals and electoral accountability in Italy

In the “dark side” of Italian politics the hidden forces of systemic corruption tend the create an incresing tension related to the connection between illegal financing and official political activities. The underneath frictions can occasionally and suddenly evolve into a new “political earthquacke” shacking previous equilibria. This can happen when judicial inquieries reveal the widespread interconnected nature of illegal political activities – as in the 1990s “mani pulite” inquieries and in the 2010s “Protezione civile, Expo and Mose scandals. When a positive feedback mechanism prevails – as in the 1994 and 2013 election – due to the quantity of cases of corruption exposed, or the high-profile of those involved, or both, – scandal crosses a critical threeshold triggering media and public opinion interest, and therefore also parties’ and electors’ reaction. Due to the “policentric” nature of systemic corruption, with a variety of local enforcers of its hidden rules, it is however very unlikely the start of a snowball effect as in the 1990s, when judicial inquieries smashed and weakened precisely those actors – main political parties and their leader – whi enforced the centralized organization of systemic corruption.

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