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Percy Allum, "'From Two Into One': The Faces of the Italian Christian Democratic Party," Party Politics, 3 (January 1997), 23-52.

First Paragraph:
Not the least of the paradoxes of the current Italian political crisis, which saw the dissolution of the Christian Democratic Party (DC) after nearly 50 years of continuous power, was the fact that the Tangentopoli (literally 'bribesville') scandal broke in the north of the peninsular and not in the south, in Milan (della Porta, 1993) rather than Naples (Allum and Allum, 1996), and, moreover, inside the Socialist Party (PSI) and not the DC, as students of post-war Italian politics would have expected, given the national prominence of the 'Southern Question'--the historic differences between the 'Europeanized' centre-north and the 'Mediterraneanized' south (Putnam, 1993). Of course, southern Italy, Naples and the DC were quickly implicated. Indeed, the charges against southern politicians were not limited to 'corruption' or 'breaking the law on public financing of parties' only, as in the case of their northern colleagues, but included more seriously 'Mafia conspiracy'.

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Last Paragraph:
This system, however, turned out to be vulnerable. First of all, because the increase in promises, which were more and more difficult to keep (above all in a period of economic recession), generated frustration and the withdrawal of support of groups traditionally linked to the DC. Next, because the upheavals in the international situation certainly encouraged these withdrawals and frustrations to express themselves more openly. Finally, because the system had become progressively more inefficient (inflation in the demand for favours undermined the control capacity of the political decision-centres) and more costly (the rising cost of bribes was increasingly judged too high by a growing number of economic operators. Everybody knew that the Italian political system was rotten, but it was tolerated because of the international context and general economic prosperity. The unresolved political crisis of the past 3 years is a result of these phenomena: it bears witness to a general process of unprecedented delegitimation of the traditional parties and the political class, a process in which the collapse of the DC was merely the most spectacular expression.