Author: Joanna Rak
Institution: Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland)
Published online: 21 June 2021
Final submission: 2 June 2021
Printed issue: December 2021
Source: Show
Page no: 11
Pages: 51-61
DOI Address:
PDF: ppsy/50/ppsy202109.pdf

Embedded in scholarship on militant democracy, this research aims to explain how Italian legislation was positioned to militant democratic measures and how this changed over time. Drawing on the qualitative source analysis and the explanatory frameworks of democratic vulnerability tests two competing theory-grounded assumptions. While the first one assumes that Italian democracy became vulnerable when traditional militant democracy instruments were outmoded, the second considers the misuse or abandonment of those means with social consent as the source of vulnerability. The crisis-induced socioeconomic inequality and uncertainty weakened the Italian political nation. As a result, the latter supported populists in return for a promise of political change. The anti-democratic legal means employed to extend power competencies and prevent the exchange of ruling parties were the way to and the costs of the expected political change. At the same time, the political nation became unable to self-organize to strengthen democracy self-defense. As a result, Italians co-produced a quasi-militant democracy that turned vulnerable because militant democracy measures were misused or not used with the consent of Italians that relinquished their political subjectivity in favor of the Northern League and the Five Star Movement.


  • Aaltola, M. (2021). Democratic Vulnerability and Autocratic Meddling: The “Thucydidean Brink” in Regressive Geopolitical Competition. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Albertazzi, D., & Zulianello, M. (2021). Populist Electoral Competition in Italy: The Impact of Sub-national Contextual Factors. Contemporary Italian Politics, 13(1), 4-30.
  • Antiterrorism Decree. (2015).
  • Baldini, G., & Nels Giglioli, M.F. (2020). Italy 2018: The Perfect Populist Storm? Parliamentary Affairs, 73(2), 363-384.
  • Berberoglu, B. (2020). Introduction: Crisis of Neoliberal Globalization and the Rise of Authoritarianism in the Early 21st In B. Berberoglu (Ed.), The Global Rise of Authoritarianism in the 21st Century: Crisis of Neoliberal Globalization and the Nationalist Response (pp. 1-12). Routledge.
  • Bonanno, A. (2020). The Crisis of Neoliberalism, Populist Reaction, and the Rise of Authoritarian Capitalism. In B. Berberoglu (Ed.), The Global Rise of Authoritarianism in the 21st Century: Crisis of Neoliberal Globalization and the Nationalist Response (pp. 15-30). Routledge.
  • Cachia, J.C. (2021). The Europeanization of the COVID-19 Pandemic Response and the EU’s Solidarity with Italy. Contemporary Italian Politics, 13(1), 81-104.
  • Caiani, M. (2019). The Populist Parties and Their Electoral Success: Different Causes Behind Different Populisms? The Case of the Five-star Movement and the League. Contemporary Italian Politics, 11(3), 236-250.
  • Caamano, J.R., & Bertoa, F.C. (2020). Are Anti-political-establishment Parties a Peril for European Democracy? A Longitudinal Study from 1950 till 2017. Representation, 56(3), 387-410.
  • Caiani, M., & della Porta, D. (2011). The Elitist Populism of the Extreme Right: A Frame Analysis of Extreme Right-Wing Discourses in Italy and Germany. Acta Politica, 46(2), 180-202.
  • Capoccia, G. (2013). Militant Democracy: The Institutional Bases of Democratic Self-Preservation. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 9(1), 207-226.
  • Codice Penale. (1930).
  • Constitution of the Republic of Italy. (1947).
  • Cozzolino, A. (2020). The Discursive Construction of Europe in Italy in the Age of Permanent Austerity. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 58(3), 580-598.
  • D’Alimonte, R. (2019). How the Populists Won in Italy. Journal of Democracy, 30(1), 114-127.
  • Declaration of Internet Rights. (2015).
  • Di Matteo, D., & Mariotti, I. (2021). Italian Discontent and Right-wing Populism: Determinants, Geographies, Patterns. Regional Science Policy & Practice, 13(2), 371-396.
  • (2015). Italy: Anti-terrorism Decree to Strengthen Government Surveillance.
  • Fasone, C. (2021). Coping with Disloyal Cooperation in the Midst of a Pandemic: The Italian Response.
  • Franzosi, P., Marone, F., & Salvati, E. (2015). Populism and Euroscepticism in the Italian Five Star Movement. The International Spectator, 50(2), 109-124.
  • Freedom House. (2019). Freedom on the Net.
  • Gokarıksel, S. (2020). Antifascist Strategy Today: Lineages of Anticommunism and ‘Militant Democracy’ in Eastern Europe. In J. Rayner, S. Falls, G. Souvlis, & T.C. Nelms (Eds.), Back to the ‘30s? Recurring Crises of Capitalism, Liberalism, and Democracy (pp. 215-234). Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Il Codice Civile Italiano. (1942).
  • Invernizzi Accetti, C., & Zuckerman, I. (2017). What’s Wrong with Militant Democracy? Political Studies, 65(1), 182-199.
  • Legge 26 aprile 1993, n. 205. (1993).
  • Law of 11 August 1991, No. 266. (1991).
  • Loewenstein, K. (1937a). Militant Democracy and Fundamental Rights, I. The American Political Science Review, 31(3), 417-432.
  • Loewenstein, K. (1937b). Militant Democracy and Fundamental Rights, II. The American Political Science Review, 31(4), 638-658.
  • Maddox, G. (2019). Karl Loewenstein, Max Lerner, and Militant Democracy: An Appeal to ‘Strong Democracy’. Australian Journal of Political Science, 54(4), 490-504.
  • Merkel, W. (2018). Challenge or Crisis of Democracy. In W. Merkel, & S. Kneip (Eds.), Democracy and Crisis (pp. 1-28). Springer.
  • Minkenberg, M. (2006). Repression and Reaction: Militant Democracy and the Radical Right in Germany and France. Patterns of Prejudice, 40(1), 25-44.
  • Morgan, S. (2018). Fake News, Disinformation, Manipulation and Online Tactics to Undermine Democracy. Journal of Cyber Policy, 3(1), 39-43.
  • Muller, J.W. (2016). Protecting Popular Self-government from the People? New Normative Perspectives on Militant Democracy. Annual Review of Political Science, 19, 249-265.
  • Norman, L. (2021). To Democratize or to Protect? How the Response to Anti-System Parties Reshapes the EU’s Transnational Party System. Journal of Common Market Studies, 59(3), 721-737.
  • Osiewicz, P., & Skrzypek, M. (2020). Is Spain Becoming a Militant Democracy? Empirical Evidence from Freedom House Reports. Revista de Historia Contemporánea (Madrid, Ed. Actas), 35(103), 7-33.
  • Pilet, J.-B., & van Haute, E. (2012). Criteria, Conditions, and Procedures for Establishing a Political Party in the Member States of the EU. The European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs.
  • Rak, J. (2020). Quasi-Militant Democracy as a New Form of Sacred in Poland during the Corona Crisis. Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, 19(57), 111-128.
  • Rezmer-Płotka, K. (2020a). Restrictions of Freedom of Press as an Indicator of Militant Democracy in Lithuania. Polish Political Science Yearbook, 49(4), 204-210.
  • Rezmer-Płotka, K. (2020b). The Effects of Crises in the European Union as a Manifestation of the Militant Democracy Rule Implementation. Przegląd Prawa Konstytucyjnego, 6(58), 615-621.
  • Royal Decree No. 773 of 1931 (Law on Public Safety). (1931). Testo unico delle leggi di pubblica sicurezza (TULPS) (R.D. 18 giugno 1931, n. 773) [Aggiornato al 30/11/2020].
  • Son, K.M. (2018). The Cold War Origins of the ‘Crisis of Democracy’. Democratic Theory, 5(1), 39-61.
  • Specchia, M.C. (2021). Un prisma costituzionale, la protezione della Costituzione: dalla democrazia “militante” all’autodifesa costituzionale. Diritto Pubblico Comparato ed Europeo: Rivista Trimestrale, 1, 91-129.
  • Steuer, M. (2019). Militant Democracy on the Rise: Consequences of Legal Restrictions on Extreme Speech in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Review of Central and East European Law, 44(2), 162-201.
  • Steuer, M. (2020). Militant Democracy and COVID-19: Protecting the Regime, Protecting Rights? Hong Kong Journal of Law and Public Affairs, 2, 131-145.
  • Stuckler, D., Reeves, A., Loopstra, R., Karanikolos, M., & McKee, M. (2017). Austerity and Health: The Impact in the UK and Europe. European Journal of Public Health, 27(4), 18-21.
  • Tarchi, M. (2015). Italy: The Promised Land of Populism? Contemporary Italian Politics, 7(3), 273-285.
  • Verbeek, B., & Zaslove, A. (2016). Italy: A Case of Mutating Populism? Democratization, 23(2), 304-323.
  • Veugelers, J., W.P., & Chiarini, R. (2002). The Far Right in France and Italy: Nativist Politics and Anti-Fascism. In M. Schain, A. Zolberg, & P. Hossay (Eds.), Shadows Over Europe: The Development and Impact of the Extreme Right in Western Europe (pp. 83-103). Palgrave.
  • Wigell, M. (2019). Hybrid Interference as a Wedge Strategy: A Theory of External Interference in Liberal Democracy. International Affairs, 95(2), 255-275.
  • Zaslove, A. (2004). Closing the Door? The Ideology and Impact of Radical Right Populism on Immigration Policy in Austria and Italy. Journal of Political Ideologies, 9, 99-118.

Wiadomość do:



© 2017 Adam Marszałek Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Projekt i wykonanie Pollyart