Gabriele Abbondanza


Governments’ political affiliations traditionally exert a tangible influence over a country’s foreign policy. However, does the external dimension of irregular migration change when different governments come to power? And do related foreign policy measures change as well? To answer these questions, this article first reviews the theoretical and empirical literature on the influence of political affiliation on migration and foreign policy. Second, it analyses the foreign policy of Italy’s irregular migration governance from 2000 to 2023 inclusive. Third, it draws theoretical and policy implications. With a focus on foreign policy measures, it finds that path dependence favours a broad bipartisanship – a valence issue for the political system – with 10 governments out of 12 adopting restrictive approaches through the use of analogous foreign policy measures. Specifically, it shows that Rome’s great power politics comprises naval deployments in the Mediterranean, leading contributions to related EU initiatives, externalised offshore processing in Libya, a military mission in Niger, strengthened support to Tunisia, and the establishment of a new offshore processing agreement with Albania. Ancillary implications affect: i) migrants’ own insecurity, aggravated by additional obstacles; ii) foreign and security policy, since Italy’s goals of halting irregular flows, increasing repatriations, and deterring traffickers are frustrated; and iii) the potential external applicability of these findings in comparable destination countries. As a result, this novel research contributes to the literature on both irregular migration governance and Italian foreign policy, by shedding light on the bipartisanship of Italy’s migration-related foreign policy.


Research Articles