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Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
The problem of liberalism as an organised political force is not confined only to Italy. In reality liberal parties have been on the decline for 25 years now everywhere in Europe, while conservative parties have been on the up, on the basis of largely liberal programmes, and after abandoning their social ethics of "order-and-rank". The simplest explanation of this decline is that liberal parties have long ceased to be such, adopting hybrid political and ideological programmes. The fact is that today's liberal parties define themselves as such, not because they have an ideology or a programme of their own, but because they are neither conservative or socialist (nor, one might add, ecologist). The roots of the difficulties of political liberalism in Italy are precisely of this type: it is likely that, in their efforts to prevent themselves from being excluded from the interplay of political majorities, Liberals have made too many compromises. It is not unreasonable to believe that a programme envisaging the State's substantial retreat from economic and social life might enjoy greater approval than that which the Liberal Party presently receives. Judging by the repeated declarations of the leading members of the Italian Liberal Party, however, there seems to be no desire to follow this direction.