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NUMERO 21 - 05/11/2008

 1948-2008: the ups and downs of a 60-years–long decentralization (?) process in Italy

The paper analyzes first the circumstances and historical frameworks  in which the various steps of Italy’s decentralization process took place, from the early post-war partial solution of the “Special Regions” envisaged by the 1948  Constitution, through  the failure of the radical reforming attempts pursued during the nineties, the subsequent “decentralization with unchanged Constitution” phase (so called “administrative federalism”) up to the fully fledged  reform of  Title V of the Constitution (Act 3/2001) , followed by an attempt to reform  it  (to get a true political federalism)  by the subsequent  centre-right government , which was defeated by the constitutional referendum of 2006. Then it  describes  the economic and financial background  that during the first decades kept the Italian politics united  around the concept of unitary state (leaving aside the “Special Regions”),  subsequently provoked  the birth of 15 “Ordinary Regions” (1970-72), and then caused  a more stringent push towards a North-South  (or a rich-poor) political conflict by the Northern League. It also mentions the various concepts of “equalization” of public resources which have been behind the various stages of the decentralization and regionalization process (especially at the regional level) and are now at the core of  art 119 of the new Constitution. Finally, it gives a brief  account  of the not so hidden conflict between the Centre and the Regions (especially the Northern Regions) about their respective  competences, as well as of  the attempts now being pursued  (especially)  by  Lombardy Region to gain a special status  within  a “double speed” system of  “devolution”.  With a final hint  on the  burden being placed on Italy’s public finances  by the  “federalist”  solutions and non-solutions.


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