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Keywords:

  • civil protection;
  • earthquake;
  • Italy;
  • L'Aquila;
  • politics;
  • reconstruction;
  • relief

Italy is an earthquake-prone country and its disaster emergency response experiences over the past few decades have varied greatly, with some being much more successful than others. Overall, however, its reconstruction efforts have been criticised for being ad hoc, delayed, ineffective, and untargeted. In addition, while the emergency relief response to the L'Aquila earthquake of 6 April 2009—the primary case study in this evaluation—seems to have been successful, the reconstruction initiative got off to a very problematic start. To explore the root causes of this phenomenon, the paper argues that, owing to the way in which Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has politicised the process, the L'Aquila reconstruction endeavour is likely to suffer problems with local ownership, national/regional/municipal coordination, and corruption. It concludes with a set of recommendations aimed at addressing the pitfalls that may confront the L'Aquila reconstruction process over the next few years.