In summer 2009, the Italian government led by Silvio Berlusconi passed a bill which legalised the local squads or, ronde as auxiliary police forces, under the inspiration of the government partner Lega Nord. The Parliament was later to approve this bill, thus causing the indignation of that part of Italian society which saw in the ronde the proof of a populist turn of Italian society. This article will show how the ronde must be understood in the context of the deep social and political changes Italy has undergone in the last twenty years, caused both by globalisation and by the collapse of the old political class in early 1990’s. It is also discussed how the gulf between police forces and population, as well as, a confused organisation of the latter, might have been one of the causes in the creation of squads. We will conclude by showing how ronde are more related to populism than they are to a change in policing.
Key words: Ronde, Italy, politics, populism, policing, Lega.
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