The Italian Emergency Regime at the Covid-19 “Stress Test”: Decline of Political Responsiveness, Output Legitimation and Politicization of Expertise


During the Covid-19 pandemic, public trust necessarily shifted towards science and technical expertise worldwide. In some liberal democracies, the Constitution and Parliament have been by-passed, with Executives using scientific and technical expertise to legitimate political choices within the crisis management process. In Italy (March-August 2020), the Executive set up expert teams (such as the comitato tecnico-scientifico) acting mostly by Decrees of the President of Council of Ministers (DPCM). The Italian Parliament was not sufficiently consulted. After reviewing the current research literature on constitutional changes during emergency regimes within representative democracies, and using insights from Italy, we try to frame the discourse concerning Executive’s choices during emergency regimes in terms of (i) decline of political responsiveness, (ii) prevalence of out-put legitimation and (iii) politicization of expertise (with the possibility for expertise, in turn, to influence policy making) to contribute to the overall debate on the reconfiguration of powers in times of crises.


DOI Code: 10.1285/i20398573v7n1p35

Keywords: Italy; COVID-19; Emergency regime; Politicization of science; Expertise.

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