The Dynamics of Policy Innovation and Paradigmatic Change
Edited by Hideko Magara
The respective evolutions of France and Italy over the past two to three decades bear some resemblance to one another. Both economies have experienced high unemployment and seemingly had difficulties adapting their economic models to the new international competition. Both countries also seem to be stuck in an enduring political crisis. In Italy, the crisis broke up in a spectacular way in 1992, with the disappearance of all the main political parties. In France, one saw a progressive decay of the traditional social alliances and a rise of non-governmental parties, which progressively led to a widespread perception of the existence of a political crisis during the 2000s, in particular when the candidate of the Front national (FN) reached the second round of the presidential election in 2002 or when the Treaty for a European constitution was rejected in the referendum of 2005 in spite of the support of all Left and Right government parties. In both countries, no governing coalition has ever been re-elected since 1978. A popular explanation links the economic difficulties to the political situation. Both countries would need neoliberal structural reforms to adapt their economic models to the new global competition but politicians would baulk at these reforms for fear of the electoral consequences. Both countries would be stuck in a vicious circle where incumbent governments would implement insufficient reforms that would hurt vested interests and thus have an electoral cost while leading to suboptimal economic outcomes at the same time.
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