Policy rhetoric versus political reality : has the Italian state given up on the Mezzogiorno?

Polverari, Laura (2013) Policy rhetoric versus political reality : has the Italian state given up on the Mezzogiorno? Regional and Federal Studies, 23 (5). pp. 571-590. ISSN 1359-7566

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Abstract

The goal to develop the Mezzogiorno has been a long-standing feature of Italian public policy, reflecting the enduring, and so far unsolved, duality between the developed Centre–North and the lagging South. The policy response has changed over time: from the ‘Special Intervention’ to the more recent nuova programmazione. This article focuses on the evolution of the nuova programmazione during the last few years, from 2007 to 2011. It shows that notwithstanding a restated formal commitment to raise the Mezzogiorno to a level similar to the rest of the country, the policy reality has been a substantial abandonment of this goal. The article sheds light on the reasons behind the persistence of the Mezzogiorno problem, the challenges faced by redistributive policies in times of economic crisis, and the limits of the European Union's role as an external force to remove domestic blockages.