The apparent triumph of the ‘revolution of the judges’ (which in the early 1990s led to talk of a ‘Second Republic’ in Italy) proved to be of short duration. Between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s the question of political corruption was intentionally demoted as a political priority by means of a ‘bi-partisan’ agreement. The ‘Clean Hands’ investigations do not seem to have led to the moral regeneration of Italian politics: available indicators on the diffusion of corruption instead signal high and constant levels. ‘Clean Hands’ opened a window of opportunity for overcoming the various ‘anomalies’ of Italian politics, but the political class was unable or unwilling to seize the moment. Not only is the balance sheet of actions against corruption rather meagre, but profound divisions have emerged in the relationship between the judiciary and the ‘new’ political class.