Keywords: Quality of democracy; Rule of Law; Administrative capacity; Economic crisis; Public administration
This article examines the influence of the global financial turmoil on administrative capacity considered within the framework of the quality of democracy. In fact, administrative capacity is a significant component of the rule of law. However, laws consistent with a high democratic quality but deprived of a fair, transparent, efficient and impartial apparatus devoted to implementing them determine a rule of law broad, but shallow. By tracking the reaction to the economic crisis in Italy, this article tests the hypothesis suggested by Dunsire and Hood that episodes of financial austerity invest public administration following a specific sequence of events. The empirical analysis shows that the sequence triggered in Italy by the 2008 crisis has been shaped and constrained by the level of implementation of the different repertoires of responses to the 1992 crisis. The findings reveal that the current crisis has encouraged the adoption of transversal measures aimed at freezing public expenditure while the attempts of bureaucratic modernisation have been sidelined. Consequently, the financial turmoil has negatively affected the Italian administrative capacity.