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Article
Publication date: 16 February 2021

Luigi Rullo

The article investigates how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and deepened the presidentialization of politics in Italy. It examines how a series of innovative rules…

Abstract

Purpose

The article investigates how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and deepened the presidentialization of politics in Italy. It examines how a series of innovative rules and procedures adopted by the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to face the extraordinary event are part of a permanent presidentialization dynamic.

Design/methodology/approach

This study analyzes the role of prime minister in coping with the pandemic in Italy within the analytical framework of the personalization of politics. Section 1 investigates how the prime minister has resorted to autonomous normative power through intensive use of the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers (DPCM). Section 2 observes the establishment of a more direct relationship with citizens through extensive use of digital communication and high engagement. Section 3 analyzes the “personal task force” appointed by the prime minister and highlights a new balance between technocratic/private roles and politics undermining democratic accountability.

Findings

By examining three main aspects of the personalization of politics, the article observes that the COVID-19 pandemic has facilitated the movement to presidentialization of power in Italy. It argues that the COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened political and institutional trends already in place before the crisis.

Originality/value

The article expands the comparative research on the presidentialization of politics. The Italian case clearly underlines how the pandemic crisis represented a further step of progressive dominance of the “executive” over the other branches of government. The article suggests an agenda for future cross-institutional and cross-national analysis.

Details

International Journal of Public Leadership, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2056-4929

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