Change and Functionality
For over forty years, Italy was seen as a ‘party government’ system, with a party system that was extremely fragmented, consisting of up to 10 national parties, at least seven of which could at any time be considered ‘relevant’. As a consequence of various factors that found expression in the results of two crucial elections in 1992 and 1994, all of this has abruptly come to an end. Party organizations have literally fallen apart after at least thirty years of successful adaptation to societal and political system changes, with all parties and other electoral competitors having been deeply affected, and a number of the traditional parties, including the three largest ones, suffering divisions and transformations. The transformation was the result of three sets of direct causes: first, there had been shifts in political demand for specific parties or even parties in general, resulting from greater potential voter mobility; second, there had been change in the political supply provided by the parties; and third, the new electoral law impacted directly on the parties’ parliamentary delegations; some of these factors are arguably still effective, and the transformation of the Italian party system is far from complete. The introductory section of the chapter discusses this changing structure of the Italian party system; the next three sections of the chapter cover the same topics as the other country case studies in the book, and examine party legitimacy, party organizational strength, and party functionality (in governance, political recruitment, interest articulation and aggregation, political communication and education, and political participation).
Keywords: case studies, electoral law, governance, interest aggregation, interest articulation, Italy, party functionality, party legitimacy, party organization, party performance, party structure, party system, political communication, political demand, political education, political participation, political parties, political recruitment, political supply, political system, voter mobility
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