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The book focuses on the most recent developments in Italian politics, particularly those of the last 10-15 years. A longer historical perspective, covering the post-war period, is also supplied, providing the reader with the tools for understanding this period of change. The authors address a number of themes, paradoxes and problems inherent to Italian politics. The first theme concerns the shifting balance between the central administration and the periphery. The second theme concerns the divide between governing parties and permanent oppositions. The third theme relates to the mix of political discontinuity and instability with a simultaneous stability of political parties. Finally, the book considers the relationship between the Italian domestic system and the international system. In particular, it examines the impact of the East-West international divide on Italian politics and the Italian party system, and the relationship between Italy and Europe, and Italy's strong support of European integration.