by Stolfi, Francesco

Abstract (Summary)
By studying the reforms of Italys budget institutions this research aims to define the factors that explain the timing and content of institutional and policy reform in the context of extreme policy stability. It argues that the timing of reform depends on the preferences regarding the status quo of the parties in the government majority, and that these preferences depend on the nature of the party system (whether it allows government alternation or not) and on the type of electoral rules. Specifically, lack of government alternation and the use of proportional representation minimize the likelihood of reform, since it gives incentives to parties to develop a distributive policy orientation. Conversely, government alternation and the use of plurality rules make reform easier by making parties more programmatic, namely by changing their electoral calculus in favor of the provision of substantive rather than merely distributive policies. Moreover, reform may at times occur even in the presence of a government majority with a strong distributive orientation. In this case, in order for reform to occur policy entrepreneurs must be able to exploit the pressure of exogenous factors, such as the weakening of the electoral support for the government parties to force the government majority to accept the reform. Among these exogenous factors, a potentially crucial role could have been played by European pressure. However, this research, using a bottom-up approach, has concluded that in most cases of reform Europeanization has been a contributing, rather than the main explanatory factor. As regards the content of reform, this research has shown that in most reform episodes the content of the reforms has been shaped by master ideas- such as economic planning in the 1960s and New Public Management in the 1990s connecting the structure of the fiscal policy institutions to broader attempts to reform the way the Italian State operates. This conclusion provides an ideational argument that contrasts with institutionalist arguments that are skeptical of an independent causal role for ideas in explaining how fiscal institutions are chosen.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:B. Guy Peters; Claudio M. Radaelli; Anibal Perez-Linan; Alberta Sbragia; Mark Hallerberg

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:political science


Date of Publication:10/02/2006

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