The Italian transition and national (non)reconciliation

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This paper argues that Italy's apparent inability to successfully complete the transition from the First to a Second Republic and renew its political institutions is at least in part due to the country's failure to deal with its problematic legacy of political conflict and ideological confrontation. The analysis takes into consideration the growing literature on post-conflict national reconciliation, which is generally applied to countries experiencing a transition from an authoritarian regime to a liberal democracy and/or that have emerged from a bloody and prolonged civil war, rather than to democratic countries like Italy. Yet it can be argued that Italy went through a period of violent conflict in the late 1960s and 1970s which was directly related to the Cold War, and which has left a legacy of bitter divisions, antagonisms and recriminations, as well as preventing a truth recovery process about past crimes and the achievement of full justice through the courts. Indeed, since the collapse of the First Republic, Italy has shown extremely high levels of political conflict and mistrust. The paper argues that there are strong resistances to truth recovery from various social and political actors, and that in this situation many appear to favour a form of 'collective amnesia'. Yet it is precisely the use of lies and amnesia that is preventing the emergence of tolerant identities and is fuelling mutually exclusionary narratives and interpretations of the conflictual past, as well as cultures of victimhood.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-421
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Modern Italian Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Truth
  • Political transition
  • Reconciliation
  • Justice
  • Conflict
  • Amnesia


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