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Educational Programme
Final Grade
Year of Graduation
Elisabetta Mazzeo
Fighting Corruption in Italy: a Political and Institutional Analysis
Politics. Economics. Philosophy
(Master’s programme)
Italy is a full democracy committed to the protection of human rights and a major advanced economy.

Despite the fact that this country is the 3rd most flourishing economy in the eurozone, the 8th biggest by nominal GDP in the world, the 12 by GDP (PPP) and one of the founding members of the European Union, the Eurozone, the OECD, the G7 and the G20, its levels of corruption are, surprisingly, still very high.

According to Transparency International, the 2017 Corruption Perception Index for Italy is 50/100 (100 represents ‘’no corruption’’) , placing the country at the 54th place out of 180 countries.

Corruption in Italy is still systemic, despite the existence of several anticorruption regulations and reforms that have been put in place since the creation of the Republic in 1946.

Are there particular historical, economic or sociological reasons for which these policies do not usually bring the results hoped for?

In line with previous works that have described the behaviors of extractive democracies and the seesaw effect in other countries (Acemoglu and Robinson, 2008), this paper focuses on Italy.

It is herein argued that anticorruption reforms in this country have not been able to significantly change the status quo pre reform, because the elite have been able to accommodate in their own interest the anticorruption changes introduced by law makers.

Like in many developing countries, the changes attempted by the representatives of the de jure political power can be either resisted or welcomed by those of the de facto political and economic power, who secure the supremacy of extractive institutions on inclusive ones.

In some cases, the elites do not fight against the changes, but find alternative solutions to circumvent the obstacles that those changes create to their gain and interest.

Continuing further on this path, the research question herein presented is ‘’how are the elites in Italy able to accomodate anticorruption strategies? ‘’.

This work examines, with the help of modern political economy theories and several case studies, to what extent the elites have been successful in accommodating the anticorruption policy reforms enacted so far, and what have been the factors that have made this possible.

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