Controlling political corruption in Italy : What did not work, what can be done

  • Donatella Della Porta orcid logo
  • Alberto Vannucci orcid logo


The paper dealt with the control on political corruption in Italy, in particular with the reasons why most of the control mechanisms did not work for a long time, allowingfor the development of"tangentopoli". First of all, we  briefly discussed the reasons why the controls ''from below"--that is, from citizens or electors--did not function in Italy: the pervasive occupation of the administration and the civil society by the political parties, as well as "secret" agreements between political parties in order to avoid political scandals were discussed.
The paper continued by analyzing two types of institutional control: the administrative controls and the judiciary controls. In the second part, we presented some main characteristics of the Italian public administration that hampered internal controls, the informal control of parties over the bureaucrats through clientelism and complicity in corruption being one among them. In the third part, we focused on the peculiar characteristics of a magistracy that enjoyed of a very high degree of format autonomy from the political power, but was "pushed" towards politics for reasons as different as complicity in corruption and the need to "substitute" for the weak policy making capacity of political parties. In the fourth part, we reviewed some (implemented of planned) reform bills to deal with the control of political corruption.

How to Cite:

Della Porta, D. & Vannucci, A., (1996) “Controlling political corruption in Italy : What did not work, what can be done”, Res Publica 38(2), 353-369. doi:

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Published on
29 Jun 1996
Peer Reviewed