A Matter of Trust: The Search for Accountability in Italian Politics, 1990-2000
Mind and Society, vol.4(1), pp.129-148, 2005.
31 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2002 Last revised: 24 Apr 2014
During the Nineties Italian politics underwent major changes. Following the uncovering and prosecuting of systemic corruption, the current political establishment was wiped out. Further, the system of representation at both the national and local levels underwent a significant transformation that improved voters' control over their elected representatives. We argue that both events were the consequence of citizens' demand for greater accountability of elected public officers. We model the relationship between voters and politicians as a repeated Trust game. In such game, cooperation can be attained either by means of external controls or by means of internal controls. The latter are less costly, but they may be unfeasible. Whereas the judicial investigation is an external mechanism to monitor representatives' actions, the electoral reform provides a form of control internal to the political system. Our formal model depicts the Italian transition between these different modes of control. We show under which conditions a cooperative equilibrium can be established in which voters can trust their representatives, who in turn have an incentive to reciprocate and act in the public interest. The results of our model have important implications for the process of electoral reform still under way in Italy.
JEL Classification: A00, A12, A13, A14, D72, D73, D78, H, K4, K42
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