During the transition to the second republic, the three governments following the 1994 "almost" majoritarian elections (Berlusconi, Dini and Prodi) started to apply middle-range reforms in foreign economic policy (FEP). The issue areas were: the Instituto di Commercio Estero (ICE), the institutional decision making framework of FEP, the agency of development co-operation. The final outcome in these policies was some sort of conservative reforms. While the right tried to apply some "laissez faire" measures; the left opted for the "protectionist" model to political economy. In the article, some explanatory hypotheses are advanced: the former is linked to ideological factors - the leftist government is the direct "heir" of the centre/left coalition of the first republic -, the latter to rational choice dimensions - based on strong alliances between ministries and their bureaucracies. There are more changes in the decision making process of the Italian party government: the empirical evidence shows that in the transition to the second republic relations between parties and governments are more institutionalised.