A richly-informed new explanation for the fluctuating fortunes of Italy’s colorful Prime Minister
Mapping Contemporary Italian Politics
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Michael E. Shin and John A. Agnew
Listen to a podcast from UCLA's International Institute with John Agnew and Marc Lazar discussing "Berlusconi's Italy"
Berlusconi's Italy provides a fresh, thoroughly-informed account of how Italy's richest man came to be its political leader. Without dismissing the importance of personalities and political parties, it emphasizes the significance of changes in voting behaviors that led to the rise-and eventual fall-of Silvio Berlusconi, the millionaire media baron who became Prime Minister. Armed with new data and new analytic tools, Michael Shin and John Agnew reveal that regional politics and shifting geographical voting patterns were far more important to Berlusconi’s successes than the widely credited role of the mass media.
Shin and Agnew reject the prevailing orthodoxy about how coalitions are organized and replaced in Italy. Instead, using recently developed methods of spatial analysis, they offer a compelling new argument about contextual re-creation and mutation. They conclude that Berlusconi’s success (and later defeat) can be best understood in geographic terms, and they suggest that geographical analysis has a useful role to play in examining political behavior in Italy and beyond.
"A completely new conceptualization of Italian party politics and their reconstitution. It rejects the orthodoxy about how coalitions are replaced and globalized within Italy, and provides a provocative and compelling argument about their con-textual recreation and mutation. This is a fundamental book for those interested in Italian politics."
"Berlusconi's Italy is conceptually path breaking. Departing from accounts that focus on the media or the decline of regional subcultures, Shin and Agnew argue that place configurations that shift in time and space have created the kinds of fluid and powerful coalitions that have catapulted Berlusconi to power. This book is a must read not only for specialists in Italian politics and political geographers but for everyone interested in the mutating electoral politics of contemporary Europe."
"[S]hort but detailed…The book is written in part as a reaction to notions that political geography no longer matters, and that personality and national media are dominant in Italian politics and Western politics generally…The most crucial chapters…detail how Berlusconi put together center-right coalitions with differing allies in different parts of Italy. Summing Up: Recommended ."
"This book is not just another of the many explanations of why and how Berlusconi keeps returning to power. It is, rather, an impressive and, in my view, a much needed correction to overly facile claims about the effects on elections of modern systems of communication, and particularly of television.... highly recommended ."
"Political geographers Michael Shin and John Agnew offer historians of contemporary Italy fresh insights with their in-depth study entitled Berlusconi's Italy. They challenge the common explanations for Berlusconi's rise in Italian politics....In sum, this is a thought-provoking book with a highly convincing argument."
"Shin and Agnew illustrate [their] argument with a convincing narrative sustained by sophisticated spatial analyses.... In making [their] argument so well, sustained by careful analyses of the rich electoral data available, Shin and Agnew have not only illuminated Italy’s recent electoral history as, in fact, a historical geography, but have also provided a paradigm for studies elsewhere. This short book is a worthy extension of Agnew’s work on Italy and on the role of place in politics and a fine example of what geography has to offer to electoral analysis."