Skip to main content Accessibility help

Policy agendas in Italy: introduction to the special issue

  • Enrico Borghetto (a1), Marcello Carammia (a2) and Federico Russo (a3)


Policy agendas studies analyse the dynamics of attention to policy issues over time and across actors and institutions to obtain insights into the functioning of political systems. The articles in this special issue draw on this approach to investigate key aspects of the Italian political system, with a special emphasis on the period spanning from the political crisis of the early 1990s to the watershed elections of 2013. They analyse a broad range of institutional and policy venues, including public opinion, political parties, the executive, the Parliament, and the Constitutional Court. While single articles address different research questions and focus on different institutions, they all share a focus on the dynamics of issue attention over time. This introduction provides a summary overview of the theoretical and methodological tools employed in the volume, highlighting how the study of policy agendas can contribute to the understanding of political systems and their change over time. It then summarises the main findings of single articles which, taken together, shed new light on several classic questions that have been widely debated in the literature on the evolution of the Italian political system.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email:


Hide All
Alexandrova, P, Carammia, M Timmermans, A (2012) Policy punctuations and issue diversity on the European Council Agenda. Policy Studies Journal 40(1): 6988.
Almagisti, M, Lanzalaco, L Verzichelli, L (eds). (2014) La transizione politica italiana. Da Tangentopoli a oggi. Roma: Carocci.
Bachrach, P Baratz, MS (1962) The two faces of power. American Political Science Review 56(4): 947952.
Basile, L (2018) The (party) politics of attention. Party competition and decentralist reforms: the case of Italy. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana Di Scienza Politica 48(3): 345363.
Baumgartner, FR, Breunig, C, Green–Pedersen, C, Jones, BD, Mortensen, PB, Nuytemans, M Walgrave, S (2009) Punctuated equilibrium in comparative perspective. American Journal of Political Science 53(3): 603620.
Baumgartner, FR Jones, BD (1993) Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Baumgartner, FR Jones, BD (2015) The Politics of Information: Problem Definition and the Course of Public Policy in America. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.
Baumgartner, FR, Jones, BD Wilkerson, J (2011) Comparative studies of policy dynamics. Comparative Political Studies 44(8): 947972.
Bevan, S Jennings, W (2014) Representation, agendas and institutions. European Journal of Political Research 53(1): 3756.
Borghetto, E Carammia, M (2010) L’analisi Comparata Delle Agende Politiche: Il Comparative Agendas Project. Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 2(2010): 301315.
Borghetto, E Carammia, M (2015) Party priorities, government formation, and the making of the executive agenda, in N Conti and F Marangoni (eds). The Challenge of Coalition Government: The Italian Case. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 3657.
Borghetto, E Russo, F (2018) From agenda setters to agenda takers? The determinants of party issue attention in times of crisis. Party Politics 24(1): 6577.
Borghetto, E, Carammia, M Zucchini, F (2014) The impact of party policy priorities on Italian law-making from the first to the second republic (1983-2006), in S Walgrave and C Green-Pedersen (eds). Agenda Setting, Policies, and Political Systems. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, pp. 164182.
Borghetto, E, Visconti, F Michieli, M (2017) Government agenda-setting in Italian coalitions. testing the «partisan hypothesis» using Italian investiture speeches 1979-2014. Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche (2/2017), 193220.
Borghetto, E, Carammia, M Russo, F (2019) The Italian Agendas Project, in FR Baumgartner, C Breunig and E Grossman (eds). Comparative Policy Agendas. Theory, Tools, Data. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 120128.
Breunig, C (2011) Reduction, stasis, and expansion of budgets in advanced democracies. Comparative Political Studies 44, 10601088.
Brouard, S Hönnige, C (2017) Constitutional courts as veto players: lessons from the United States, France and Germany. European Journal of Political Research 56(3): 529552.
Brouard, S, Costa, O König, Thomas (eds). (2012) The Europeanization of Domestic Legislatures. The Empirical Implications of the Delors’ Myth in Nine Countries. New York: Springer.
Bull, M Pasquino, G (2007) A long quest in Vain: institutional reforms in Italy. West European Politics 30, 670691.
Bull, M Rhodes, M (1997) Between crisis and transition. Italian politics in the 1990s. West European Politics 20(1): 113.
Bull, M Rhodes, M (eds). (2009) Italy - A Contested Polity. 1st edn., Abingdon: Routledge.
Carammia, M, Princen, S Timmermans, A (2016) From summitry to EU government: an agenda formation perspective on the European Council. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 54(4): 809825.
Carammia, M, Borghetto, E Bevan, S (2018) Changing the transmission belt: the programme-to-policy link in Italy between the first and second republic. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 48(3): 275288.
Cavalieri, A, Russo, F Verzichelli, L (2018) Sieves, frictions and policy change: the politics of budgetary commitments in the era of constrained public finance. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana Di Scienza Politica 48(3): 327343.
Cobb, RW Elder, CD (1983) 2nd Participation in American Politics: The Dynamics of Agenda-Building . Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Cotta, M Isernia, P (1996) Il Gigante Dai Piedi d’argilla. Bologna: Il Mulino.
Cotta, M Verzichelli, L (2007) Political Institutions in Italy. New York: Oxford University Press.
Dearing, JW Rogers, EM (1996) Agenda Setting. London: Sage.
De Giorgi, E Moury, C (eds). (2015) Government-Opposition in Southern European Countries during the Economic Crisis: Great Recession, Great Cooperation?. London: Routledge.
Downs, A (1972) Up and down with ecology: the issue-attention cycle. Public Interest 28(1): 3850.
Fabbrini, S (2000) Political change without institutional transformation: what can we learn from the Italian crisis of the 1990s? International Political Science Review 21(2): 173196.
Ferrera, M (1997) The uncertain future of the Italian welfare state. West European Politics 20(1): 231249.
Green-Pedersen, C (2007) The growing importance of issue competition: the changing nature of party competition in western Europe. Political Studies 55(3): 607628.
Green-Pedersen, C Mortensen, PB (2010) Who sets the agenda and who responds to it in the Danish parliament? A new model of issue competition and agenda-setting. European Journal of Political Research 49(2): 257281.
Green-Pedersen, C Mortensen, PB (2015) Avoidance and engagement: issue competition in multiparty systems. Political Studies: 63(4): 747–764.
Green-Pedersen, C Walgrave, S (eds). (2014) Agenda Setting, Policies, and Political Systems: A Comparative Approach. Chicago, IL; London: Chicago University Press.
Jones, BD Baumgartner, FR (2004) Representation and agenda setting. Policy Studies Journal 32(1): 124.
Jones, BD Baumgartner, FR (2005) The Politics of Attention: How Government Prioritizes Problems. Chicago, IL: University Of Chicago Press.
Jones, BD, Baumgartner, FR, Breunig, C, Wlezien, C, Soroka, S, Foucault, M, François, A, Green–Pedersen, C, Koski, C, John, P, Mortensen, PB, Varone, F Wlagrave, S (2009) A general empirical law of public budgets: a comparative analysis. American Journal of Political Science 53(4): 855873.
Kingdon, JW (1984) Agendas, Alternatives and Public Policies. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company.
Morlino, L (2013) The impossible transition and the unstable new mix: Italy 1992–2012. Comparative European Politics 11(3): 337359.
Moschella, M (2017) Italy and the fiscal compact: why does a country commit to permanent austerity? Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 47(2): 205225.
Newell, JL (2009) The man who never was? The Italian transition and 2008 election. Journal of Modern Italian Studies 14(4): 395412.
Peters, BG (1994) Agenda-setting in the European community. Journal of European Public Policy 1, 926.
Princen, S (2009) Agenda-Setting in the European Union. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Rasch, BE Tsebelis, G (eds). (2013) The Role of Governments in Legislative Agenda Setting. New York: Routledge.
Rebessi, E Zucchini, F (2018) The role of the Italian constitutional court in the policy agenda: persistence and change between the first and second republic. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 48(3): 289305.
Russo, F Cavalieri, A (2016) The policy content of the Italian question time. a new dataset to study party competition. Rivista Italiana di Politiche Pubbliche 11(2): 197222.
Russo, F Verzichelli, L (2016) Government ideology and party priorities: the determinants of public spending changes in Italy. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 46(3): 269290.
Schattschneider, EE (1960) The Semi-Sovereign People. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Stimson, JA, Mackuen, MB Erikson, RS (1995) Dynamic representation. The American Political Science Review 89(3): 543565.
Streeck, W Thelen, K (eds). (2005) Beyond Continuity: Institutional Change in Advanced Political Economies. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
Rosema, M, Denters, B Aarts, K (eds). (2011) How Democracy Works: Political Representation and Policy Congruence in Modern Societies. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.
Urso, O (2018) The politicization of immigration in Italy. Who frame the issue, when and how. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana Di Scienza Politica 48(3): 365381.
Visconti, F (2018) The legislative representation of public opinion policy priorities in Italy. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica 48(3): 307326.
Vliegenthart, R, Walgrave, S, Baumgartner, FR, Bevan, S, Breunig, C, Brouard, S, Bonafont, LC, Grossman, E, Jennings, W, Mortensen, PB, Palau, AM, Sciarini, P Tresch, A (2016) Do the media set the parliamentary agenda? A comparative study in seven countries. European Journal of Political Research 55(2): 283301.
Walgrave, S Vliegenthart, R (2012) The complex agenda-setting power of protest: demonstrations, media, parliament, government, and legislation in Belgium, 1993-2000. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 17(2): 129156.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed