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The political economy of neo-liberalism in Italy and France

By Bruno Amable, Elvire Guillaud and Stefano Palombarini


There are many apparent similarities between the current political and economic situations of France and Italy. The mainstream view is that at least part of the neo-liberal strategy could be a solution to the economic problems of both variants of the European model of capitalism. However, the difficulties met by the implementation of these strategies by Sarkozy and Berlusconi lead to believe that the success or failure of neo-liberalisation has less to do with its (lack of) macroeconomic merits than with the stability of the socio-political alliances that support it. In this respect, France and Italy are markedly different. This paper shows that even if the "hard core" of the neoliberal social bloc is roughly the same in both countries, this core constitutes a minority of the electorate ; a neoliberal strategy must therefore rely on an extended social coalition, which might not be similar between countries. The Great Recession revealed part of the structural characteristics that set both countries apart. The aim of this article is to show that the consideration of the different socio-political alliances found in each country can help to understand how Italy and France ended up on different economic trajectories.Institutions, model of capitalism, neoliberal reforms, political crisis.

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