Monday, 13 September 2010

The Italian presidency in the post-war political system: call for papers.

UK Political Studies Association 61st Annual Conference, London, 19-21 April 2011

Italian presidents play a generally low-profile, but crucially important, role in the country's political system, responsible as they are for mediating and regulating with the aim of ensuring that political processes are carried on without threatening national integration. This importance appears to be reflected in the results of surveys which regularly show much higher levels of public confidence in the presidency than in the country's other institutions. Essential though the role is, however, relative to institutions such as Parliament, the judiciary or the regions (for example) the presidency has not been the object of much detailed analysis. With the passing of possibly the most controversial of Italy's post-war heads of state, President Francesco Cossiga, the time has come to rectify this.

Thanks to the lack of detailed specifications in the Italian constitution, and, to the great benefit of peaceful governance, the President's significance and capacity for autonomous action varies depending on the specific circumstances. This raises a large number of potential questions for analysis. How has the role of the presidency changed over the post-war period? To what extent have the office and its incumbents influenced the events and processes of political change that have underlain the so-called transition from first to second republics in recent years? What are the limits on presidential powers and to what extent have these been influenced by the characteristics and the actions of the specific individuals who have held the post? Why has reform of the presidency been an issue on the agenda of Italian politics in recent years? How does the role of the presidency compare with the role of heads of state in other liberal democracies? In short, how significant is the presidency for the Italian political system and for our understanding of the role of heads of state in democracies in general?

Offers of papers exploring any of these or related issues are welcome.

Paper abstracts (circa 250 words) should be e-mailed, by 22 September at the very latest, to me, Jim Newell (

For more information visit the conference website at:

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