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Politics and organised crime (01/05/22 16:06:38)
    There might be some today-relevant information in an analysis of the collaboration between Italian politics and the Sicilian mafia.


    "The origin of the Sicilian Mafia has been traced back to the demand for protection from southern landlords and urban elites, generated by the power vacuum that followed the defeat of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies (Gambetta, 1996; Bandiera, 2003; Dixit, 2003). During the period of parliamentary monarchy (1861–1921), the Sicilian Mafia acted as a military force for the island’s ruling class, fighting against workers’ protests and revolts (Acemoglu et al., 2017).

    After a parenthesis during Fascism, when the regime launched a military campaign to re-establish the State’s control over the island, the collaboration between the Sicilian Mafia and the conservative (centre-right) bloc resumed. This followed the birth of the so-called First Italian Republic (1946–93), which re-introduced free democratic elections (every five years) under universal suffrage with a proportional rule. In this period there was a competition between the Christian Democratic Party, who was always the leader of a ruling coalition along with several small parties, and the Communist Party. Some of the most prominent Sicilian members of the Christian Democratic Party accepted the Mafia’s support in order to reinforce their positions against leftist opponents. In return, if elected they would use their influence to subvert the police and judicial system’s interference with Mafia activities (Falcone, 1991; Paoli, 2003; Lodato and Buscetta, 2007). The other criminal organizations—that is, Camorra and ’Ndrangheta—also established links with politics, but their partisan leaning has been much more volatile over time."

    Religion seems to have a role

    "The collusion between factions of the Christian Democrats and criminal organizations is well-known and appeared in many judicial investigations. We explore this relationship by looking at prosecutors’ requests to proceed against a member of Parliament (“Richieste di autorizzazione a procedere”), which are required in order to lift Parliamentary immunity from judicial investigations.9 The institution of Parliamentary immunity was abolished in 1993, so our data only cover the period up to that year. Since 1983, when Article 416-bis was introduced into the penal code, eleven members of Parliament were investigated as active members of criminal organizations; all of them had been elected in the Christian Democratic Party or in its allied parties. In addition, many more politicians were investigated for “simple” criminal association (Article 416 of the Penal Code) or for malfeasance, which is often indicative of links with criminal organizations. Figure 1 shows that Christian Democrats and their allies were more likely to be investigated for all these types of crimes than politicians of the Left, even more so in Sicily, Campania, and Calabria."

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Politics and organised crime