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SISP Conference 2023

SISP2023 Sections and Panels

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Section 8 - Parties, Public Opinion, Elections

Managers: Silvia Bolgherini, Fulvio Venturino

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This section aims to include panels and papers focusing on the three areas corresponding to the interests of the Standing Group on Parties, Public Opinion, and Elections. Prospective panels and papers may revolve around local, national and supranational elections, be theoretically and/or empirically oriented, use survey and aggregate data as well as qualitative methods, focus on case studies or adopt a comparative perspective.
The following (non-exhaustive) list suggests some possible topics for contributions to the section’s activities.

1. Political Parties
A first and classical approach focuses on party systems, whose relevant aspects are, among others: format, level of polarization, electoral volatility, (de)institutionalization.
An alternative classical approach considers parties as organizations. Here the discussion on party models is pivotal, e.g. on the evolving and existing types of parties (electoral/catch-all party, cartel party, personal party, digital party and other more recent forms).
Another stream of research takes into account the role of the party membership, assessing the (usually declining) levels of involvement in parties’ life, the importance of militancy, and the types of incentives to encourage people to activism.
Appropriate for the section is also the study of party leaders as heads of their organizations and as vote drivers.
Examining public and private financial support to parties is, as well, a field of interest for the section.
Parties are primarily election-oriented organizations. Thus, all types of parties’ involvement in elections are pertinent topics for our section, including aspects of electoral supply and coalition-building strategies.
Finally, this section accepts contributions concerning parties in government dealing with, among others: party elites in parliaments and cabinets, careers patterns, sociological and political representation; institutional and decisional processes.

2. Public opinion
The section hosts contributions about the attitudes expressed by public opinion (also) in non-electoral times.
For instance, panels and papers could address citizens’ preferences toward policy issues at all territorial levels.
Another field of research welcomed in the section is the populist surge and its criticisms towards representative democracy.
Finally, contributions may revolve around ideological polarization affecting some segments of the citizenship.

3. Elections
The study of elections at all territorial levels is a major point of this section.
Elections in democratic and hybrid regimes may be discussed, for instance, by considering the management of the electoral process and the election quality.
The role played by the electoral rules may be considered from the point of view of the structure and the impact of the electoral system, or the regulations about candidacy and incompatibility.
Electoral campaign may be analyzed from the point of view of their financial rules, and access to media. The analysis of campaign strategies may concentrate on political communication, concern digitalization and the use of negative campaigning. Contribution on the electoral campaign effects may intend to answer the traditional question: “Do campaigns matter”?
The investigation of electoral behavior may address turnout, party choice, and sophisticated behavior such as strategic voting.
Voters’ attitudes towards democracy and studies on political efficacy are also pertinent topics for the section.
Contributions may also examine electoral drivers and cues, as in the case of economic voting.
This section also accepts contributions on sui generis elections, such as referenda and primaries.
 

Panel 8.1 The 2022 Italian General Election: Analyses and Interpretations (I)


Le elezioni politiche del 25 settembre 2022 hanno offerto indicazioni di continuità, ma anche di discontinuità con le due precedenti. La continuità con il «terremoto» del 2013 e con la sua sostanziale ripetizione nel 2018 sta soprattutto nell’intensità del cambiamento nel comportamento di voto e nel sistema partitico. La discontinuità è attestata dall’entità del calo della partecipazione, in quest’ultima occasione decisamente maggiore, dalla diversa struttura della competizione, dalla decisività del risultato e dal possibile riallineamento tra elettori e partiti. In ogni caso, questi e altri aspetti, colti tanto nella loro specificità quanto nella loro complessità, meritano di essere approfonditi e discussi, così da contribuire a un’interpretazione del significato e dell’impatto di queste elezioni rispetto alla fase di trasformazione che il sistema partitico e politico italiano stanno attraversando da oltre un decennio a questa parte.
Il panel accoglie dunque proposte di paper che, riferiti alle elezioni del 2022, anche in una prospettiva di più lungo periodo, presentino analisi sul risultato generale, sulla partecipazione al voto, sulle strategie di competizione dei partiti, sulla selezione delle candidature, sull’opinione pubblica, sulla campagna elettorale, sugli allineamenti di voto in termini territoriali e socio-economici, sui flussi elettorali, sull’impatto del sistema elettorale, sulle caratteristiche dei parlamentari, nonché sull’evoluzione del sistema partitico e, più in generale, sulla trasformazione in atto del sistema politico e della democrazia italiana.

Chairs: Lorenzo De Sio

Discussants: Alessandro Chiaramonte

Fratelli d’Italia. Radici e dinamiche di un successo annunciato
Gianfranco Baldini, Sorina Soare
Abstract
In questo paper analizziamo il successo di FdI nelle elezioni del 2022 partendo da fattori di lungo periodo, come le radici identitarie che affondano nelle esperienze dei suoi predecessori, cioè il Movimento Sociale Italiano e Alleanza Nazionale. Fdi si può definire come un ‘rooted-new comer’, cioè un partito che al momento della sua formazione può contare su precedenti radici ideologiche ed organizzative. Evidenziamo come FdI sia anche l’unico partito a rivendicare qualche continuità con la stagione della prima repubblica, in particolare attraverso la conservazione della fiamma nel proprio simbolo elettorale e la centralità della figura del leader. Pur essendo uno dei presidenti del consiglio più giovani, Meloni ha oltre trent’anni di carriera politica alle spalle. Il suo ruolo è stato fondamentale nella costruzione della attuale coalizione dominante, che si riconosce, con pochissime eccezioni, nelle radici della destra (post-)missina. Questi elementi di coesione hanno permesso al partito di superare le prime difficili fasi, che il paper ricostruisce in rapporto alla dinamica dell’offerta di coalizione e delle contingenze che hanno condizionato la sua proposta programmatica e l’evoluzione del suo elettorato nel primo decennio di vita. Il focus principale del capitolo è ovviamente sulle elezioni del 2022. Sosteniamo però che questo trionfo elettorale non si può comprendere se non lo si ancora a una prospettiva di più lungo periodo. Attraverso l’utilizzo di dati CISE-ICCP viene ricostruito l’identikit degli elettori, con un’esplorazione dei flussi di voto, del profilo socio-demografico degli elettori e della loro collocazione sull’asse destra-sinistra. Per comprendere la natura del partito è fondamentale poi il confronto sull’importanza di issues e leader come determinanti del voto. Da ciò emerge confermata la centralità della figura di Meloni.
L'offerta politica 2022 tra liste e coalizioni
Matteo Boldrini, Marco Improta, Aldo Paparo
Abstract
L’esito delle elezioni politiche del 2022 ha consegnato una storica vittoria per Giorgia Meloni. Guardando all’offerta elettorale, si osserva un ritorno del primato dell'offerta, caratterizzata da diverse strategie coalizionali che hanno impattato notevolmente l'esito della competizione. I principali contendenti in campo erano: la coalizione di centro-destra, quella di centro-sinistra, il cosiddetto "terzo polo" guidato da Calenda e Renzi e il M5s. In ogni caso, anche sul piano dell’offerta elettorale si evidenziano elementi di novità, che meritano di essere indagati sistematicamente. In questo capitolo ripercorriamo innanzitutto le principali tappe che hanno contraddistinto l'evoluzione del sistema partitico parlamentare nel corso della scorsa legislatura, per comprenderne lo stato alla vigilia delle elezioni: dai cambiamenti di governi, alle strategie dei partiti, passando attraverso i vari processi di definizione delle coalizioni e delle candidature, e il delinearsi del quadro politico alla luce delle molteplici crisi – da quella sanitaria a quella energetica – che l'Italia ha dovuto affrontare.
Opinione pubblica e issue nelle elezioni del 2022
Lorenzo De Sio, Nicola Maggini, Elisabetta Mannoni
Abstract
Il contributo consta di tre parti. La prima sezione offre un quadro dell’agenda condivisa dagli italiani a poche settimane dalle elezioni politiche del 2022, composta per lo più da temi consensuali (valence issues) ma anche da qualche obiettivo di policy legato a temi tipicamente divisivi. La seconda parte presenta una disamina del posizionamento dell’opinione pubblica italiana sulle 21 positional issues su cui risulta maggiormente divisa, in ambito economico, di immigrazione, diritti civili e libertà individuali, ambiente, guerra in Ucraina e istituzioni. La terza parte guarda alla caratterizzazione tematica dei partiti, confrontando, per i principali partiti, i temi ottimali a prescindere dalla credibilità del partito (solo sulla base della domanda dei cittadini) con i temi ottimali tenendo conto anche della credibilità del partito (sulla base anche dell’offerta, considerando quindi non solo quali siano gli obiettivi di policy che l’elettorato in generale preferisce, ma anche quanto credibile ogni partito sia ritenuto dall’elettorato nel perseguire tali obiettivi). Questo consente anche di verificare se e quali partiti siano riusciti ad appropriarsi di uno o più degli obiettivi condivisi e altamente salienti presentati nella prima parte del capitolo.
Politiche 2022: partecipazione elettorale e impatto dei divari socioeconomici
Davide Angelucci, Federico Trastulli, Dario Tuorto
Abstract
L'ulteriore crollo nella partecipazione elettorale è stato uno dei temi principali delle elezioni politiche del 2022, le quali hanno registrato sia il tasso di astensione che il calo interelettorale più alti nella storia repubblicana. Questo contributo intende analizzare empiricamente tale storico fenomeno, sia da un punto di vista descrittivo che in chiave analitica, concentrandosi da quest'ultimo punto di vista su aspetti socioeconomici a livello territoriale e individuale. Qual è la relazione tra condizione di disagio socioeconomico, a livello territoriale e individuale così come nella loro interazione, e partecipazione elettorale? E quale ruolo giocano i principali partiti (es. Movimento 5 Stelle) nel favorire o meno l'affluenza alle urne, anche in connessione con gli aspetti sopra citati? Nel contributo, tramite l'utilizzo di dati elettorali, demografici e socioeconomici, affrontiamo questi quesiti di ricerca attraverso analisi descrittive ed esplicative, a livello aggregato (provinciale) e individuale così come tramite modelli gerarchici che consentono l'interazione tra i due livelli. Ciò ci consente di pervenire a interessanti conclusioni empiriche riguardo alle dimensioni socioeconomiche e politiche della varianza in partecipazione elettorale alle politiche del 2022, con particolare interesse verso le aree e gli individui più svantaggiati.
Risultati, flussi di voto e issue voting nelle elezioni politiche italiane del 2022
Lorenzo De Sio, Davide Angelucci, Aldo Paparo
Abstract
Le elezioni politiche italiane del settembre 2022 sono state caratterizzate da un ennesimo, sorprendente risultato (benché per certi versi previsto dai sondaggi precedenti al voto). Fratelli d’Italia, guidato da Giorgia Meloni, è passato dal 4% al 26%; imponendosi non soltanto come primo partito italiano, ma di fatto come leader della coalizione del centrodestra. Invece, il Movimento 5 Stelle, che aveva vinto le elezioni del 2018 con oltre il 30% dei voti, ha dimezzato i suoi consensi nel 2022, concentrando i suoi voti per lo più nelle aree svantaggiate del mezzogiorno. Il Partito Democratico, poi, ha faticato a muoversi dal risultato del 2018, rimanendo di fatto inchiodato al palo. Questo contributo analizza il risultato delle elezioni politiche del 2022 con un duplice obiettivo: da una parte, descrivere l’andamento elettorale dei partiti e delle coalizioni nel tempo e nei diversi territori italiani; dall’altra, provare a fornire una chiave interpretativa del risultato emerso. A questo scopo, l’articolo combina dati aggregati sulle performances dei partiti italiani (e delle rispettive coalizioni) con dati di survey che permettono di comprendere più a fondo le dinamiche di mobilitazione, smobilitazione, e rimobilitazione degli elettori. I risultati relativi al principale vincitore (Fdi) e principale sconfitto (M5s) della competizione, mostrano che, se da un lato Fdi è riuscita ad attrarre principalmente elettori provenienti dalla coalizione di centrodestra e dal M5s, quest’ultimo ha assunto un profilo più marcatamente ideologico, caratterizzandosi sempre più come un partito attrattivo per gli elettori del centrosinistra.
 

Panel 8.1 The 2022 Italian General Election: Analyses and Interpretations (II)


Le elezioni politiche del 25 settembre 2022 hanno offerto indicazioni di continuità, ma anche di discontinuità con le due precedenti. La continuità con il «terremoto» del 2013 e con la sua sostanziale ripetizione nel 2018 sta soprattutto nell’intensità del cambiamento nel comportamento di voto e nel sistema partitico. La discontinuità è attestata dall’entità del calo della partecipazione, in quest’ultima occasione decisamente maggiore, dalla diversa struttura della competizione, dalla decisività del risultato e dal possibile riallineamento tra elettori e partiti. In ogni caso, questi e altri aspetti, colti tanto nella loro specificità quanto nella loro complessità, meritano di essere approfonditi e discussi, così da contribuire a un’interpretazione del significato e dell’impatto di queste elezioni rispetto alla fase di trasformazione che il sistema partitico e politico italiano stanno attraversando da oltre un decennio a questa parte.
Il panel accoglie dunque proposte di paper che, riferiti alle elezioni del 2022, anche in una prospettiva di più lungo periodo, presentino analisi sul risultato generale, sulla partecipazione al voto, sulle strategie di competizione dei partiti, sulla selezione delle candidature, sull’opinione pubblica, sulla campagna elettorale, sugli allineamenti di voto in termini territoriali e socio-economici, sui flussi elettorali, sull’impatto del sistema elettorale, sulle caratteristiche dei parlamentari, nonché sull’evoluzione del sistema partitico e, più in generale, sulla trasformazione in atto del sistema politico e della democrazia italiana.

Chairs: Alessandro Chiaramonte

Discussants: Lorenzo De Sio

Territorio e voto in Italia alle elezioni politiche del 2022
Nicola Maggini, Vincenzo Emanuele, Matteo Cataldi
Abstract
Negli studi sul comportamento di voto in Italia, il territorio ha rivestito un ruolo centrale nello spiegare gli esiti elettorali. Nello specifico il territorio è stato tradizionalmente analizzato nella sua dimensione geopolitica tramite la scomposizione in zone macro-regionali portatrici di differenti subculture politiche. In anni più recenti, a questa concezione si è aggiunta anche una crescente attenzione verso la dimensione demografica dei comuni sulla base di evidenze empiriche che mostrano importanti differenze in termini di esiti elettorali tra grandi e piccoli centri. Le elezioni italiane del 2022 confermano l’importanza del territorio sul comportamento elettorale, sebbene con dinamiche in parte diverse rispetto al passato (ad esempio, la crescente divaricazione tra sud e nord con il venir meno delle distintività delle tradizionali zone subculturali). Alla luce di tutto ciò, il nostro contributo propone una originale classificazione del territorio basata sull’accessibilità da parte dei cittadini ad alcuni servizi essenziali (sanità, istruzione, trasporti). In particolare, questa nuova concettualizzazione è stata operazionalizzata come distanza in tempi di percorrenza (in auto) di ciascun comune dai centri urbani dove questi servizi vengono erogati. Il nostro contributo analizza poi la relazione tra questa variabile e il voto a partiti e coalizioni, anche tenendo conto di una serie di indicatori di fattori socio-economici e culturali. Lo scopo finale del contributo è quello di verificare se il territorio è rilevante per spiegare il voto e se il suo è solo un effetto di composizione oppure ha una autonoma capacità esplicativa.
Il sistema partitico italiano dopo le elezioni del 2022: il processo di deistituzionalizzazione continua
Vincenzo Emanuele, Alessandro Chiaramonte, Elisa Volpi
Abstract
Le elezioni politiche del 2022 confermano il perdurare dello stato di deistituzionalizzazione del sistema partitico italiano. Un sistema partitico si definisce deistituzionalizzato quando la competizione interpartitica risulta instabile e imprevedibile per un tempo considerevolmente lungo e tale da racchiudere una sequenza di legislature consecutive che presentino uno stato di cambiamento permanente nelle diverse arene (elettorale, parlamentare e governativa). Come mostrano studi recenti, questo processo riguarda diversi paesi dell’Europa occidentale e, fra questi, l’Italia rappresenta un caso paradigmatico. L’aspetto più rilevante è che questa fluidità si inserisce in un quadro di cambiamento permanente che ha caratterizzato il sistema partitico italiano negli ultimi 10 anni. Dal 2013, infatti, l’Italia ha fatto registrare tre elezioni consecutive con una volatilità maggiore di 25, un record assoluto nell’intera storia dell’Europa occidentale post-bellica. Tali valori di volatilità si associano ad alti livelli di innovazione (cioè il successo dei nuovi partiti) semplice e cumulata, mobilità parlamentare (parlamentari che cambiano gruppo) e formule di governo innovative. Questo capitolo intende indagare l’evoluzione del sistema partitico italiano e discutere i diversi aspetti del suo processo di deistituzionalizzazione.
Una campagna poco decisiva? Le priorità dei cittadini e le strategie dei partiti
Luca Carrieri, Cristian Vaccari
Abstract
Le campagne elettorali si giocano normalmente su un numero limitato di argomenti di cui politici, media ed elettori discutono. Per molti versi, proprio la contesa per definire quali saranno questi argomenti costituisce la vera posta in gioco di un’elezione. A seconda di quali tematiche gli elettori ritengono salienti, infatti, partiti e leader diversi possono risultare avvantaggiati perché i cittadini li ritengono più credibili ed efficaci su quei temi. In primo luogo, per comprendere le dinamiche della campagna elettorale del 2022 è fondamentale individuare la gerarchia delle priorità degli elettori, per poi valutare in che misura diversi partiti abbiano rispecchiato queste preferenze nella loro comunicazione. In secondo luogo, è utile identificare l’enfasi tematica attribuita dai principali partiti ed il loro rendimenti elettorali sui temi (Issue Yield), verificando la congruenza tra questi 2 ambiti. I risultati della nostra analisi riveleranno che le priorità espresse dai principali partiti sono state parzialmente congruenti rispetto a quelle dei cittadini. Sebbene i partiti abbiano largamente politicizzato il tema che riguardava la necessità di combattere gli aumenti delle bollette energetiche e i vari aspetti relativi alla gestione dell’economia, temi altamente prioritari tra i cittadini, si sono anche concentrati su alcune tematiche post-materialiste (lotta al riscaldamento globale), scarsamente salienti tra i cittadini. Il secondo risultato importante del nostro lavoro riguarda le strategie dei partiti: non sempre i partiti hanno enfatizzato i temi su cui erano più competitivi. Diversi attori partitici (soprattutto FdI e PD), hanno cercato di costruirsi una credibilità su quei temi rispetto ai quali erano meno competitivi per rispondere alle priorità dell’elettorato.
La rivincita della politica? Il ceto parlamentare alla prova della riduzione dei seggi
Luca Verzichelli, Bruno Marino, Filippo Tronconi
Abstract
Il paper descrive e interpreta le caratteristiche del ceto parlamentare eletto nel 2022. Il focus si concentra sulla principale novità istituzionale, la riduzione del numero dei parlamentari, in combinazione con l’evoluzione del sistema partitico che ha visto l’indebolimento delle due forze politiche (Lega e Movimento Cinque Stelle) vincitrici nel 2018. L’ipotesi di partenza è che questo mix di fattori abbia contribuito a ridimensionare le innovazioni del ceto parlamentare osservate nelle precedenti elezioni (in primis quelle portate dal Movimento Cinque Stelle) e restituito centralità al ruolo dei partiti e dei loro gruppi dirigenti. In breve, un ritorno, sia pure relativo, delle logiche del professionismo politico e del controllo partitico sulla formazione delle élite. La riduzione del numero di parlamentari ha reso più pressanti le abituali preoccupazioni di sopravvivenza dei parlamentari. Sono rimasti immutati, invece, altri vincoli del sistema elettorale: doppio canale uninominale-plurinominale, liste bloccate, obbligo di alternanza fra i generi nelle candidature, possibilità di formalizzare alleanze pre-elettorali. Partendo da questi presupposti, analizziamo le tradizionali caratteristiche socio-demografiche e politiche del ceto parlamentare (tasso di ricandidatura e di rielezione, genere, età media e profilo socio-occupazionale, precedenti esperienze politiche e istituzionali, tipo di expertise). Questi cambiamenti potrebbero avere piegato in modo innovativo i profili di reclutamento emersi nel recente passato, e che avevano fatto intravedere l’emergere di una “classe politica populista”, caratterizzata da inesperienza politica e istituzionale e profili socio-demografici eccentrici. Dopoi l 2018 era stato però sottolineato come tali peculiarità fossero difficilmente sostenibili nel lungo periodo. Sarà questa l’occasione per verificare se tali congetture erano corrette e quanto sopravviva dell’esperienza di quella stagione politica inaugurata nel 2013 e proseguita nel 2018. Infatti, i vincoli supplementari introdotti dalla riduzione dei parlamentari potrebbero avere indotto i partiti a virare verso modalità diverse di reclutamento. In particolare, la tecnica del “paracadutismo” di candidati estranei al territorio che dovrebbero rappresentare, e l’esclusione di candidati “laterali” e non adeguati ad una fase rinnovata di disciplina partitica. Inoltre, i nuovi vincoli potrebbero aver inciso sulla possibilità di uso strategico del canale uninominale o di quello plurinominale, più che nella precedente tornata elettorale, per assicurare ai parlamentari di lungo quelle posizioni “blindate” oramai ridotte. In breve, la classe parlamentare uscita dalle elezioni del 2022 potrebbe evidenziare il ritorno di alcuni caratteri tradizionali di controllo centralistico e nel contempo il consolidamento di figure neo-notabilari, a dispetto di una ancora elevata volatilità elettorale e dell’incertezza che si lega alla vittoria di un partito fino a ieri marginale nel panorama politico. Tuttavia, proprio la vittoria di un partito “nuovo” – eppure legato ad una lontana tradizione dell’istituzione legislativa italiana – potrebbe essere la chiave per capire come discontinuità e innovazioni potranno combinarsi nel ceto politico futuro.
Maggioritario di risulta. Il nuovo sistema elettorale italiano alla sua seconda prova
Alessandro Chiaramonte, Aldo Paparo, Roberto D'Alimonte
Abstract
L’esito delle elezioni politiche italiane del 2018 aveva fornito indicazioni che il nuovo sistema elettorale avesse determinato effetti prevalentemente maggioritari sulla competizione partitica e prevalentemente proporzionali sul comportamento di voto, ma suggeriva anche una certa cautela nel trattarle come verificate una volta per tutte in considerazione dell’unica occasione in cui il sistema elettorale era stato applicato e della necessità di attendere che partiti ed elettori ne comprendessero pienamente il funzionamento e dunque vi si adattassero. La seconda applicazione del sistema elettorale disegnato dalla legge Rosato ha avuto luogo con le elezioni del 2022. Abbiamo quindi l’opportunità di estendere ad esse l’analisi già compiuta sulle elezioni del 2018. Gli interrogativi di fondo rimangono gli stessi, ossia 1) in che modo le componenti maggioritaria e proporzionale del sistema elettorale abbiano interagito e, complessivamente, 2) quanto tipicamente “maggioritari” ovvero “proporzionali” ne siano stati gli effetti. Nel paper, cercheremo dunque di verificare se le prime indicazioni circa l’impatto che il nuovo sistema elettorale ha esercitato su elettori, partiti e sistema partitico siano state confermate anche nelle elezioni del 2022, o se, invece, siano emerse evidenze che modificano o integrano quanto rilevato in precedenza.
 

Panel 8.2 Social Status, Social norms, Public Opinion and Political Behaviour (I)


This panel focuses on how society influences individual behavior and opinions, and highlights two key dimensions: social status and social norms. While social status and social norms are key topics of investigation in the wider social sciences, they remain understudied in political science, especially in relation to political behavior and public opinion. Social norms and social status are emerging as crucial explanations for recent political upheavals (the rise of populist and radical parties, and democratic backsliding). These strands of literature highlight the embedded nature of individual opinions and behavior and the importance of informal institutional rules and rankings.

In this panel, we welcome contributions from fields like political behavior, public opinion, political sociology, and political and social psychology that explore the role played by social status and social norms in politics. Concerning the role of social status in politics, we welcome contributions focusing on the determinants of social status (historical events, institutional change, demographic or life-course events) and its consequences, focusing both on traditional outcomes (voting behavior) or less explored consequences (redistributive preferences, political nostalgia, authoritarian attitudes, feelings of local rootedness and localism, conspiracy theories and political trust).

Concerning the role of social norms in politics, we welcome work that investigates how social norms come about and change, for example, projects focusing on the effect of elites (parties and politicians) on social norms; or the influence of historical, political, and social events (such as protests, elections, or pandemics) on social norms. Finally, we welcome proposals exploring how social norms influence public opinion, the heterogeneous impact they might have across different social groups, and the influence social norms have on political elites.

We also welcome contributions focusing on methodological challenges, such as how to best measure social norms (preference falsification, social norms measurement) and how best to conceptualize social status.

Chairs: Francesco Colombo

Discussants: Daniel Bischof

Delayed Maturation and Conservative Voting
Laura Serra
Abstract
The influence of life-cycle effects on political behaviour is an overlooked aspect of the literature on inter-generational changes in political behaviour. Life events such as completing education, getting married, having a child, starting a full-time job, or buying a house now occur later than they used to. The delayed maturation thesis thus maintains that, in some sense, 25-year-olds across established democracies are now “younger” than 25-year olds from previous generations because they have undergone fewer life-cycle events. This has been found to explain decreased youth turnout, and may also explain the widening age-gap in party choice. This paper tests this hypothesis in the context of the UK using data from the British Election Study (1964-2019). Results show that higher maturation levels have a large impact on voting for the Conservative party, and that this effect is particularly strong for the Millennial generation. For this cohort, each increase on the ‘maturation index’ results in a 4% increase in their chances of voting Conservative relative to the Pre-war generation. Additional analsyses of the British Household Panel Survey (1991-2020) confirm that these life-cycle events have a direct causal effect on the development of right-wing attitudes and Conservative party identification. This suggests that if certain life stages were achieved earlier in life, the vote-share of right-wing parties across younger generations would be significantly higher.
Exploring material and ideological correlates of perceived victimhood
Moreno Mancosu, Federico Vegetti, Antonella Seddone, Giuliano Bobba
Abstract
The concept of victimhood in politics is gaining increasing interest in both public and academic debate, especially when referring to practices and attitudes that emerge both at the elite and mass levels (Amaly and Enders, 2021; Boussalis et al., 2022). This paper aims at investigating perceptions of victimhood at the public opinion level, arguing that material and ideological elements might correlate with the levels of this attitude. The literature dealing with perceived victimhood mainly aims at finding ideological correlates of this psychological construct, focusing on whether left-right placement, voting behavior, and other socio-demographic variables are likely to explain levels of perceived victimhood. We aim at extending the present literature, by combining the victimhood studies with the economic grievance literature (Kriesi et al., 2006; Kurer et al., 2019). Consistent with the literature on economic grievance, we argue that economic aspects might affect the perception that one has of being a victim. Several studies posit that specific groups, especially those experiencing economic distress following the process of tertiarization and globalization of Western societies, might experience resentment toward the system (Kriesi et al., 2006). We argue that levels of perceived victimhood might be affected, in addition to cultural/ideological factors, also by material/economic factors (that can be measured, for instance, by income levels). If perceived victimhood is correlated with both material and ideological factors, it is also interesting to assess whether (and how) the two variables interact. Previous literature has shown an association between being in economic distress and voting for right-wing populist parties, which, according to the literature, tend to present themselves as avengers of a wounded heartland (Taggart and Kaltwasser, 2016). What we ask, thus, is whether a combination of conservatism and economic hardship can increase the level of perceived victimhood among the population. The hypothesis testing will be performed in Italy, a multi-party context characterized by strong anecdotal evidence of practices of victimhood enacted by politicians. By employing two surveys administered on convenience and quota samples of Italian citizens, we aim at answering several questions: 1) the literature shows that perceived victimhood can be separated into two related facets, one stressing the systemic nature of one victimhood (“I am a victim of the system” - systemic victimhood) and one focusing on a more existential aspect (“Nothing ever works out for me” - egocentric victimhood). We test the egocentric/systemic dimensions of perceived victimhood battery in a non-US context; 2) we analyze socio-economic and ideological correlated of perceived victimhood; 3) we test the interaction of the two, to assess whether the correlation of high-low levels of these two correlates leads to a multiplicative effect on egocentric/systemic victimhood. First, by performing a confirmatory factor analysis, we show that the separation between egocentric and systemic victimhood holds also in the Italian context. Results answering the second set of questions are consistent with what we derived from the theory: the higher the subjective levels of economic distress, the higher the levels of perceived victimhood. Also, the relationship between conservatism is positive and significant in both studies. We also show that higher levels of conservatism/economic distress do not provide higher levels of victimhood when they are present together in an individual. Rather, they lead to a counter-intuitive pattern, in which, on the one hand, right-wing citizens score high in (egocentric) victimhood irrespective of their material conditions. On the other hand, we see a significant difference between wealthy and low-income left-wing citizens. We argue that, among left-wing voters, the only mechanism at work is that of material conditions - better objective economic conditions lead to a significant reduction of perceived victimhood. Right-wing voters do not see any difference in perceived victimhood: if, as stressed above, right-wing populist parties are more likely to signal victimhood as an ideological/communication element of their strategy, the absence of income differences among right-wing citizens might suggest some form of party/elite cueing, which is mainly located in the right-wing part of the political spectrum (Zaller, 1992). References Armaly, M. T., & Enders, A. M. (2021). ‘Why Me?’The Role of Perceived Victimhood in American Politics. Political Behavior, 1-27. Boussalis, C., Craig, C., & Rudkin, A. (2022). Collective Victimhood Narratives in Far-right Communities on Telegram. Working paper. Available from https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/bgk96/ Kriesi, H., Grande, E., Lachat, R., Dolezal, M., Bornschier, S., & Frey, T. (2006). Globalization and the transformation of the national political space: Six European countries compared. European Journal of Political Research, 45(6), 921-956. Kurer, T., Häusermann, S., Wüest, B., & Enggist, M. (2019). Economic grievances and political protest. European Journal of Political Research, 58(3), 866-892. Taggart, P., & Kaltwasser, C. R. (2016). Dealing with populists in government: some comparative conclusions. Democratization, 23(2), 345-365. Zaller, J. R. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. Cambridge university press.
How Economic Shocks Fuel Far Right Support: The Xylella Outbreak in Italy
Simone Cremaschi, Nicola Bariletto, Catherine De Vries
Abstract
Research has demonstrated that economic shocks can result in increased vote shares for far-right parties, but questions remain about why and how this happens. By introducing a theory of community-based radicalization, this study uncovers how economic and social hardship following an economic shock increases far right support in affected communities through the interaction of political supply and demand dynamics. We empirically substantiate our theoretical argument by means of an integrative multi-method study of the 2014 sudden and exogenous outbreak of the bacterial plant pathogen Xylella Fastidiosa, which exterminated centuries-old olive groves in the leading olive-oil-producing Italian region of Puglia. First, we exploit geographic variation in the spread of the disease and municipal-level data to a conduct a difference-in-differences analysis that quantifies the social and economic disruption associated with the bacterial spread and its electoral consequences. The outbreak generated income losses, and increased youth emigration and suicides in affected municipalities. Social and economic hardship awarded an excess vote share of 2.2 percentage points to far right parties in affected areas. Second, we develop a new nested-analysis procedure for difference-in-differences settings, and use it to conduct extensive qualitative fieldwork in purposely selected municipalities. Our in-depth within-case analysis allows us to trace the process through which the shock increased far right support and identify causal conditions.
It Takes a Village: Economic Decay, Rootedness, and Voting
Giuseppe Ciccolini
Abstract
Much research is devoted to the diverse success of the far right throughout the Western world. Leading demand-side explanations point to the role of local economic opportunities in peripheral areas in comparison to economic and political centers. Yet the very mechanism driving this geographic heterogeneity remains unclear, as individual-level studies do not corroborate the argument that voters’ worsening economic conditions spur far-right voting. Among the possible contextual factors shaping voters’ reactions to local economic decline, ethnographic research from the US has emphasized the importance of place-based community rootedness. Rootedness shares features of both social capital and place attachment – two factors that have received greater attention in this literature – while being more encompassing than them. Unfortunately, evidence using quantitative methods and considering the European context is scant. To address this shortcoming, the present paper investigates how rootedness moderates the impact of regional economic decline on far-right electoral success. I select the case of Italy and specifically the 2018 general election. This choice is justified by the country’s experience with deindustrialization, the abundance of research and data on social capital and place attachment, and the presence of a successful far-right option within a rich party system (notably, including a populist non-far-right party). I focus on one major source of economic decay: decadal exposure to international trade with China. I do so by measuring local exposure to changes in Chinese trade imports in Italy since the early 2000s, based on area-specific historical sectoral specialization, and instrument it using Chinese imports to other OECD countries (Autor, Dorn, and Hanson 2013). To measure rootedness, I construct a composite indicator, based on the weakest-link method. To this end, I first conduct a factor analysis exploiting a variety of variables (associational density, volunteering rate, homeownership rate, surname diversity, among others) extracted from census data and phone directories. The results of the present analysis demonstrate that the electoral success of the far right due to Chinese imports doubles in areas featuring fairly high levels of rootedness, compared to the standard. Hence, in localities where dwellers are particularly attached to their place and community, the social consequences of regional economic decline are amplified. This effect is specific to the populist radical right, and does not extend to other populist parties or the rest of the right-wing family. Also, this phenomenon is of most concern to the left and the center-right – and equally so. Additional inquiry reveals this is not the result of a decrease in electoral turnout. On the contrary, the far right also mobilizes voters that, in absence of rootedness, would have otherwise acquiesced to economic decay. In conclusion, this study advances scholarly understanding of the relevance of place to the cultural conflict in politics. While claims of the revival of the center-periphery cleavage might be overstated, since regionalism is marginal to the ideology of the far right, this political family does benefit from regional inequality. Economic decline threatens local communities, which retreat into themselves, come into conflict with out-groups, and become sensitive to rhetoric on identity and pride. This finding thus calls for further research on the importance of the place dimension in politics (Rickard 2020; Gieryn 2000; Agnew 1987). On the one hand, this requires putting further effort into situating individuals in their proximate social context. The fact that political action does not happen in a social vacuum should be taken more seriously both in theory and methods. On the other, it means considering changes in local conditions from a longitudinal and dynamic perspective – by contrast to the cross-sectional approach that is adopted in the present analysis and most other literature on the topic. This could be achieved, for instance, by comparing deindustrializing areas that are successful in their post-industrial transition and those that are not and are destined to decline, similar to Sch¨oll and Kurer (2023). The findings of this study should also inspire reflections on the social and political responses to regional economic divergence. Classic economic theory posits that labor markets readjust to asymmetric shocks through people’s movement to more productive areas (Blanchard et al. 1992). This is most critical in the case of Europe, as the free movement of workers is the basis of the EU project. Yet though there may be some truth in this (Gathmann, Helm, and Sch¨onberg 2020; but see Saks and Wozniak 2011; Monras 2015), the extent to which such movement occurs in reality needs further attention (Amior and Manning 2018). Citizens in certain areas may not be willing or able to move – which further deteriorates their condition (Bound and Holzer 2000). The present study puts forward one notable case of this dynamic. While integration in the local community may be beneficial in many respects, it also augments the social and economic cost of migration. When “exit” is no option, citizens express their reactions at the polls. This calls for further investigation into the importance of “steadiness” for electoral politics.
 

Panel 8.2 Social Status, Social norms, Public Opinion and Political Behaviour (II)


This panel focuses on how society influences individual behavior and opinions, and highlights two key dimensions: social status and social norms. While social status and social norms are key topics of investigation in the wider social sciences, they remain understudied in political science, especially in relation to political behavior and public opinion. Social norms and social status are emerging as crucial explanations for recent political upheavals (the rise of populist and radical parties, and democratic backsliding). These strands of literature highlight the embedded nature of individual opinions and behavior and the importance of informal institutional rules and rankings.

In this panel, we welcome contributions from fields like political behavior, public opinion, political sociology, and political and social psychology that explore the role played by social status and social norms in politics. Concerning the role of social status in politics, we welcome contributions focusing on the determinants of social status (historical events, institutional change, demographic or life-course events) and its consequences, focusing both on traditional outcomes (voting behavior) or less explored consequences (redistributive preferences, political nostalgia, authoritarian attitudes, feelings of local rootedness and localism, conspiracy theories and political trust).

Concerning the role of social norms in politics, we welcome work that investigates how social norms come about and change, for example, projects focusing on the effect of elites (parties and politicians) on social norms; or the influence of historical, political, and social events (such as protests, elections, or pandemics) on social norms. Finally, we welcome proposals exploring how social norms influence public opinion, the heterogeneous impact they might have across different social groups, and the influence social norms have on political elites.

We also welcome contributions focusing on methodological challenges, such as how to best measure social norms (preference falsification, social norms measurement) and how best to conceptualize social status.

Chairs: Francesco Colombo

Discussants: Fred Paxton

The Precariat: Unveiling Policy Preferences and Mobilization Potential
Elisabetta Girardi
Abstract
In post-industrial societies, precarity is on the rise. As employment protections are retrenched and flexible working contracts proliferate, a growing share of citizenry is deprived from security and stability. Whilst the societal and psychological relevance of this trend is widely recognized, its political implications are uncertain. For the precariat to turn into a politically relevant subject, the mobilisation of its members on the grounds of shared interests is necessary. However, mobilization on common grounds is especially difficult in light of the group’s heterogeneity and exposure to the neoliberal rhetoric of self-responsibility that contributes to political acquiescence and divert the target of grievances. The question of whether precarious workers support policies in defense of their interests hence remains open. In this article, I address this issue by investigating the impact of precarity on normative beliefs and policy preferences in a large sample of Western European countries. The results suggest that the members of the precariat are indeed aware of their shared interests. This awareness does not automatically or necessarily translate into political cohesion, but it renders their mobilization as a group possible.
Then and Now: Comparing early and later experiences of Deprivation on Civic Behaviour
Franco Bonomi Bezzo, Laura Silva, Anne-Marie Jeannet
Abstract
Community deprivation puts an economic and social strain on civic life when individuals are denied conditions ordinary to that society. Deprived communities are characterized by a persistent scarcity of material resources but also a lack of vital social resources. In a deprived community, a person’s own material lack is compounded by their neighbourhood context. It is well established that a community’s material deprivation can influence the ways that residents interact with one another (Jahoda et al., 1933; Wilson, 2011). Qualitative evidence finds that individuals living in deprived areas feel isolated and disenfranchised as they come to view the society around them as ’forbidding’ (Atkinson and Kintrea, 2004). The social context where individuals live can determine how much they actively engage in politics (Dacombe and Parvin, 2021) as well as the extent to which individuals participate in local associations (Huckfeldt, 1979). Some qualitative studies have documented the lower participation in voluntary associations in impoverished areas (Small, 2002; Wilson, 2011) but little is still known about the mechanisms through which this works. Small (2002)’s ethnographic study of deprived areas reveals the complexity of participation in community associations and that poverty imposes structural constraints on participation. This evidence of structural constraints would indicate that low participation in deprived areas is not simply due to a concentration of individuals who lack sufficient resources or education to form social organizations. Instead, there is reason to see the concentration of deprivation as reinforcing group-level scarcity in social life. The purpose of this study is to reappraise what has been found in qualitative case studies through a quantitative analysis and to investigate the mechanisms linking experiences of collective material deprivation and associational membership. Taking a Durkheimian view, we claim that a person’s decision to engage politically not only depends on individual willingness but also a) on the community where the individuals have grown up and b) on the community where individuals currently live. Drawing on existing research on political socialization, we postulate that not only the contextual, but also the exposure to deprivation during childhood has long-lasting effects on civic and political engagement in adulthood. For this reason, we investigate the differential relevance of community deprivation across the life-course of people born either in 1958 or in 1970. To better understand these patterns, we test different competing mechanisms through which neighbourhood deprivation can be related to civic participation. To be clear, in this article we go beyond considering a person’s current neighbourhood, looking also at the effect of experiences of collective deprivation in early life. We use data about the UK from two birth cohort studies, the NCDS for people born in 1958 and BCS for people born in 1970. To harmonize the two cohorts, we measure the neihgbourhood of origin at age 16 and our outcome at age 42. The neighbourhood is defined at the level of Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs). Each LSOA contains between 1,000 and 3,000 people. As a measure of neighbourhood deprivation, we use the Townsend Index (Townsend et al.,1988). The Townsend Index is a composite measure deriving from four Census variables: unemployment (as a percentage of those aged 16 and over who are economically active), non-car ownership (as a percentage of all households), non-home ownership (as a percentage of all households) and household overcrowding (as a percentage of all households). Our main outcomes of interest are whether individuals have voted or not in the most recent general election, whether individuals actively participate in local associations, and the level of trust and social cohesion toward the community they belong to. Our findings show that, while exposure to deprivation at any life stage has always a negative effect on the probability of participating in local associations, experiencing deprivation during childhood and adulthood have opposite effects on the probability of voting. In fact, while being exposed to deprivation during childhood has a negative effect on the probability of voting, the same experience during adulthood has a positive effect on the probability of voting. This is important because it demonstrates that neighbourhood deprivation simultaneously exerts competing forces on the participation of its residents. One possible explanation for this heterogeneous pattern is that while growing up in a more disadvantaged context create a form of apathy and lack of interest towards political participation, the very same experience of deprivation during adulthood creates a sense of struggle and willingness to be heard. Finally, a second interesting result from our analysis is that the effect of the neighbourhood where individuals have grown up is opposite for the two cohorts of people when we consider trust and social cohesion. In fact, growing up in a more deprived neighbourhood has a positive effect on social cohesion for those born in 1958 while it has a negative effect for those born in 1970. We theorize that this can be due also to the different socio-cultural environment and associated values that where predominant in the two periods. While, indeed, in 1974 (when the 1958 cohort was 16) the UK came from a period of Welfare State expansion, characterised by more egalitarian and progressive values, in 1986 (when the 1970 cohort was 16) it was the peak of the neo-liberal reign of Margaret Thatcher with a more individualistic and business-oriented society.
 

Panel 8.3 “Navigating the storm”: an ideological re-alignment of European Far-Right and Conservative parties at the time of the Russia-Ukraine war?


The world has been hit by a series of crises in recent years, including: the financial crisis, the migration crisis, episodes of terrorism, the climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. These crises have had a profound impact on global politics, leading to the growth of far-right movements in many parts of the world in recent years. To explore the connections between these crises and right-wing politics, we will hold hour panel focusing on the most recent crisis that is not only involving Europe, but the globe itself: the Russia-Ukraine war. Thus far, the European countries jointly responded at the Russia's unilateral invasion of Ukraine. The European Commission launched a series of economic sanctions toward Russia and economic and military aids for Ukraine. However, after a brief period of transnational cohesion in defense of Ukraine, both public opinion and political parties in Europe begin to disregard the Ukrainian cause leading to an inevitable political clash between those pursuing the idea of "peace at all costs" versus those advocating the "just peace".

In 2024 citizens of European Union member states will be called upon to renew the European Parliament. The 2019 European elections already played a pivotal role in the development of current European party politics. Firstly, after forty years, there has been an increase in voter turnout for European elections (from 42.6% in 2014 to almost 51% in 2019), reinforcing the role of the European Parliament in national political debates. Secondly, the 2019 composition of the European parliament underlined a change of new political balances at both European and national levels. Once again, for the first time in European Parliament history, the European political debate is split between those that seek for a greater European political integration – including European People’s Party (EPP), Socialists & Democrats (S&D), Renew Europe (RE), Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA) – versus those that claim for more national sovereignty – such as European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) , Identity and Democracy (ID). Currently, the two European political groups with the most representatives are European People's Party and the Socialists and Democrats with 175 and 144 representatives respectively. These parties have historically been the axis around which the European Parliament moves, however, it is possible that in 2024 the European Conservatives and Reformists and the Identity and Democracy will play a key role in the new power dynamics at the European level, attempting to change the balance of European politics from within by influencing the dynamics of the composition of the future European Commission. In particular, the ECR, whose is currently chaired by Italy’s PM Giorgia Meloni and includes parties as Fratelli d’Italia, VOX, PiS and Sweden Democrats, may play well be decisive in the new internal dynamics concerning the EU, with a possible political axis with the EPP. In this sense, the Italian case study with the current government composed of Fratelli d'Italia, Lega and Forza Italia, represents an exemplary case on the implications of the moderate right wing to cooperate with the far-right producing a phenomenon of normalization of far-right parties and radicalization of mainstream parties. More specifically, the Italian case is extremely interesting on how the right-wing (from the moderate to the extreme one) reacts to the Russia's war in Ukraine.

The question of whether or not to provide military assistance to Ukraine, has been and remains a controversial issue in Italian politics, both at government and political parties' levels. The bloody war unleashed on February 24, 2022 by the Russian Federation was, has been among the major concerns of Mario Draghi’s national unity government. Draghi’s military assistance to Ukraine, has been among the reasons behind the political fallout that occurred last summer, but support remains critical and seemingly unwavering under the new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her right-wing coalition government. Forza Italia's positioning vis-à-vis the issue of support for Ukraine has always been controversial. Notably, statements by party president Silvio Berlusconi have often diverged from the party's official line, with numerous “corrections” by the party coordinator Antonio Tajani or communications officers, who have often spoken of phrases being analyzed "out of context". The EPP has found itself forced, on numerous occasions, to have to reiterate the alignment of Forza Italia and Berlusconi with its own positions. Lega also maintained an ambiguous positioning with respect to support for Ukraine and condemnation of the war unleashed by Russia. Salvini and other members of his party have on many occasions stated that they do not view either Italy's sending of arms to Ukraine or its support for sanctions against Russia favorably.

Our panel wishes precisely to analyze the dual role related to (a) normalization of the ideas, ideologies and narratives of the radical right and (b) the radicalization of conservative parties in Europe, since the war in Ukraine, as we believe the boundary between far-right and conservative parties are increasingly blurred. Throughout the discussion, the experts will provide insights into the underlying factors driving the ideological re-alignment of conservative and far-right movements. The panel discussion welcome experts from diverse backgrounds, including politics, economics, international relations, and social science. Overall, the panel discussion will provide a comprehensive analysis of the current political landscape, the pivotal role of conservative and far-right movements and explore how these movements have responded to the challenges posed by the Russia-Ukraine war. We believe that this discussion will provide valuable insights into the challenges facing global politics and offer potential solutions for addressing these challenges.

Chairs: Valerio Alfonso Bruno, Alessio Scopelliti

Discussants: Alessio Scopelliti

Fratelli d'Italia, the ECR party and the 2024 European Parliament election
Valerio Alfonso Bruno
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to discuss and analyze the role that the upcoming European Parliament election (spring 2024) may play in relation to the status of European far-right parties. In particular, the role of the ECR party, currently chaired by Giorgia Meloni, may prove to be crucial with a view to producing new power balances with the EPP at the expense of the SD party. Meloni as Italy's prime minister and leader of Fratelli d'Italia could in effect centralize even more power, and responsibility, on herself, gradually shifting the center of gravity of EU politics toward the radical right. 2024 could be a pivotal year for the radical right. In fact, the same year, a few months down the road, will also see the election for a new U.S. president, with the possibility that Trump or another far-right politician could rule the U.S.
Fratelli d’Italia in the EU: A radical party in disguise?
Edoardo Bressanelli, Margherita De Candia
Abstract
Established in 2012, Fratelli d’Italia (FdI) has had a remarkable political journey, going from a 2 percent result in the 2013 general Italian election, to becoming Italy’s largest party in 2022. This extraordinary electoral climb has spurred a soaring interest in the party and led to speculations about its ‘true’ nature: Is FdI a post-fascist, a radical right, or a conservative party? Using a mixed-method approach and a wide range of data, this paper seeks to contribute to this debate by studying the behaviour of FdI inside the European Parliament (EP), where the party sits with the soft Eurosceptic group of the European Conservatives and Reformists. More specifically, with the aim of producing both a bird's-eye view and a fine-grained picture of FdI’s behaviour in the EP, we first assess, based on all final votes in EP-9, the political fit of FdI – in terms of voting agreement - with its political group, and compare it with the party’s alignment with the other (centre-)right groups in the EP, the group of the European People's Party and the Identity and Democracy group. Next, we examine in depth the party’s position on crucial legislative and non-legislative ‘crisis’ acts: from the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the financial instrument introduced by the EU in February 2021 to alleviate the economic and social repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic across the member states; to the REPowerEU Chapters, introduced in February 2023 to address the energy needs arising from the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Our analysis sheds new light on FdI’s behaviour and identity by showing the party’s broad alignment – both in words and in deeds – with conservative principles and positions, albeit with some remarkable exceptions (mainly on socio-liberal issues) where its position is more radical. Moreover, the study indicates that the party has shown a more moderate behaviour in the EP following its transition from opposition to government benches in Italy.
Normalisation of Radical Right-Centre Right Coalitions: The Case of Italy and The Role of Russia’s Intervention to Ukraine in Upcoming European Elections 2024
Selcen Oner
Abstract
After facing with economic, migration crises, Brexit and the pandemic, Europe has focused on its own internal problems. With the effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the EU has focused on its foreign, security and defense policy. Various visions of Europe are still competing in the EU. The populist radical right parties after Brexit process started to focus on ‘Europe of nations’ which may be defined as ‘Parochial Europe’ vision (Öner, 2020). Lega’s leader Salvini was the main representative of this vision in the 2019 European elections. For the upcoming European elections, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni after forming the biggest radical right-center right coalition, she may play a pioneer role in the formation of a radical right-center right collaboration at European level. After the recent changes in the retirement age in France, there had been long demonstrations. If these socio-economic problems cannot be solved, there is a risk of further rise of National Rally in the upcoming European elections. In the last snap general elections in Italy in September 2022 the populist radical right Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia (FDI), Matteo Salvini’s Lega, and populist centre right Forza Italia and Noi Moderati collaborated with each other and won the elections (%43.8) and formed a coalition. For the first time in Western Europe a radical right party became a bigger coalition partner. One of the biggest common denominator among European populist radical right parties is their anti-immigrant, anti-refugee policies especially towards non-European and Muslim irregular immigrants. We have seen that they have shifted their rhetoric and policies after Russia’s intervention to Ukraine towards Ukrainian asylum seekers. One of the main dividing line between European radical right parties is their way of looking to Russia and their relations with Putin. While some political figures like Salvini and Le Pen had close ties with Putin, some are against. Meloni has a more Atlanticist approach in foreign policy and in favour of supporting Ukraine. Even those radical right parties who had close ties with Putin had tried to put a distance. Marine Le Pen had to order destruction of 1.2 million election leaflets in which she had a photo with Putin while shaking hands in Kremlin. Thus, we have seen further normalisation of radical right, meanwhile radicalisation of center right. We have also seen normalisation of radical right-centre right coalitions as well which has been together increasingly perceived and reflected by many media representatives as just right wing parties. These political tendencies at national level may have implications at European level which may be reflected in the upcoming European elections. In the last European elections in 2019, the radical right parties get totally around 10%. The negative socio economic impacts of Russia-Ukraine war on Europe, particularly rising inflation rates, energy, housing and food prices may influence the result of the upcoming European elections as well. If these problems cannot be solved or at least decreased by the mainstream parties in power, populist radical right parties may benefit from this atmosphere. For the upcoming European elections, we may see closer collaboration and even coalition between radical right and centre right groups as well. The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) which define themselves as ‘Eurorealits’ instead of ‘anti-European’. Identity and Democracy (ID) group has MEPs mostly from National Rally the League and the AfD. They emphasise “the Greek-Roman and Christian heritage as the pillars of European civilisation” . They are in favour of “cooperation between sovereign European nations, and reject any further evolution toward a European superstate.” Their main difference is that they mostly have close ties to Putin and critical towards NATO. On the other hand, the EPP is the biggest party family at the EP. One of the common characteristics of these three parties is their cultural perception of European identity, while EPP is different because they are in favour further European integration and they are not nativist. Italian Prime Minister Meloni has become one of the pioneer actors of ‘Parochial Europe’ vision and after forming a coalition with conservatives, she tries to promote this cooperation at European level as well before the upcoming European elections. After the Qatargate scandal that negatively influenced the leftist group, Meloni tries to overcome the predominant influence of centre-right and centre-left parties at the EP. The EP’s President Roberta Metsola in January 2022 was elected with the support of the ECR as well. During the summer of 2022, Manfred Weber who is the leader of the EPP, campaigned for the rightist coalition led by Meloni ahead of the Italian elections . During a visit to Rome, Weber endorsed Berlusconi’s party for its campaign before Italian elections. Berlusconi, who is a former MEP at the EPP group, has been also trying to contribute to this cooperation as well. After Russia-Ukraine war, Finland became a member of NATO and the radical right Finns Party decided to leave ID group and move to ECR. In the party statement it was stated that “radical change in Finland’s security policy” caused by the Russia’s war on Ukraine led the party to “reexamine international cooperation networks”. Thus, one of the main issues that affect this collaboration between radical right and conservatives will be the role of Russia-Ukraine war. In this paper the normalisation of radical right-center right coalitions in European politics is analysed by focusing on the recent elections and the new coalition in Italy. The implications of this coalition in collaboration between radical right and center right groups at the EP and the role of Russia-Ukraine war in this process will be discussed by focusing on the meetings of the representatives from these parties and their speeches.
 

Panel 8.5 The comparative study of political parties: advances, continuity and change


The comparative analysis of political parties is fundamental to raise reliable knowledge on how these crucial actors of representation frame and organise political participation, in contemporary liberal democracies. Despite their perceived decline and the rise of alternative forms of political participation, in fact, political parties are still the key actors in legislatures and governments. The study of the ways in which parties build and maintain, in time, the relationships between citizens, social groups and public institutions is crucial to understand their conception of democratic legitimacy. In this respect, while the search for party “models” has progressively lost its long-lasting dominance among scholars, the analysis of convergence and variance in parties' representative strategies, structures and resources – as well as in political culture – constitutes one of the most promising venues in the field.
In this perspective, different organizational templates are expected to be associated with different institutional settings and social environments. Convergence and variance in organizational templates may help explaining cross-country differences and similarities in parties' capacity to perform crucial external and internal functions, such as electoral mobilisation, membership involvement, leadership selection, political communication and policy formulation.

The Panel will be open to scholars engaged with the study of the changing relationships between parties, civil society and the State in order to answer a number of crucial questions: 1) How parties organise? 2) What is the current role played by party members and volunteer activists? 3) What are the mechanisms of representation within party organisations? 4) What is the role assigned to party leaders and which procedures are set for their selection? 5) Which actors are involved in drafting political and electoral platforms? 6) Which are the main funding sources of parties? 7) How did the digital transformation impact on parties’ organization and electoral campaigning? 8) How different political cultures address the problem of organizing?
The Panel welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions addressing the major research questions in the study of political parties. Particular attention will be given to comparative studies and analyses based on innovative methodological approaches to investigate the roles, functions, programs and organizational profiles and cultures of political parties, in line with the latest international research projects in the field (see in this regard: http://www.politicalpartydb.org). The languages of the panel are: English and Italian. We accept papers written in both English and Italian.

Chairs: Giorgia Bulli, Enrico Calossi, Eugenio Pizzimenti

Discussants: Giorgia Bulli

How party reputations influence public opinion. Evidence from a referendum campaign
Davide Morisi, Rune Slothuus
Abstract
NOTE: This paper would fit also into other panels of Section 8 (such as panel 8.11) or Section 3 or Section 10 -------------- A large body of research has shown that political parties influence partisans’ opinions on salient issues. But do political parties also help voters make sense of public policies and political reforms? We argue that in making inferences about political issues, voters rely on the reputation of political parties. According to this reputational model, political parties can help voters – and not only partisans – to form informed opinions on what policies and reforms are about. We test this model in a two-wave survey experiment with a representative sample of Italian voters conducted during the campaign for the referendums on the justice-system reform in June 2022. In the first wave of the panel, we use a large set of indicators to descriptively show how Italian voters perceive parties’ reputations regarding the general issue of law and order. In the second wave, we implemented a survey experiment in which the respondents learned about the position of the main Italian parties on two of the most contested referendums on the justice-system reform. We find that political parties’ positions influence voters’ understanding of what the proposed refom is about. In particular, voters make inferences that are in line with the general reputation of political parties on law and order. The effects are larger for voters with high political knowledge and for those who perceive a large “reputational gap” between parties. These findings have relevant implications for the role of political parties, showing how political parties can contribute to public opinion formation beyond the well-studied mechanism of partisan loyalty.
The Five Star Movement in government: A rebel at the wheel?
Anna Grazia Napoletano
Abstract
In the last decade, new kinds of European populist parties and movements deeply dissatisfied with representative democracy and characterized by a left wing, right wing or “eclectic” attitude have succeeded in entering the higher political institutions. In particular, since 2018 Italy has experienced three different governments where the eclectic and anti-party Five Star Movement has played a major role as coalition partner first of the radical right wing populist League (2018-2019), then of the mainstream center left Democratic Party (2019-2021) and lately of the Draghi’s government. Such a scenario offers the right tools to investigate to what extent the antisystem Five Star Movement has remained faithful to its original principles and populist anti-party attitude or has itself been a “victim” of the influence of other parties and the institutional environment in which it has played. In particular, according to this research based on the ideological definition of populism and on a new “revised” model of the inclusionary exclusionary framework to classify populist parties, the eclectic character and strong internal horizontal democracy of the Five Star Movement play a crucial role in order to answer to this question. Taking into consideration the years 2017- 2020 the present investigation will first depict the ideological and organizational profile of the Five Star Movement and how this might have changed over time. Second making use of semi structured interviews with 33 representative of the Five Star Movement this research reached the overall conclusion that even if the Five Star Movement seems to have lost most of its original antiestablishment character there are still some (few) important differences that makes it different from the other political parties, at least at the organizational level.
Always the same story? Party organizational change and variance (1970-2019)
Beniamino Masi
Abstract
The aim of this paper is to investigate changes in party organization across time in 11 European countries between 1970 and 2019, and to assess the potential impact of these changes on the quality of the democratic process. The literature on parties identifies a number of transformations in terms of their structure and their internal organization, often summed up as party models. Such changes are usually seen as a response to a changing political, social or cultural environment. In order to anayze these changes, we propose a Party Organizational Variance index (POV) to analyze variance between party organization within-countries and measure the degree of organizational diversity across parties. Furthermore, we employ a second index to assess the level of internal disintermediation of each country's main party organizations, in order to evaluate the degree of organizational distance between the party on the ground (i.e. members and supporters) and the party in central office (i.e. party leadership). This measure is especially interesting for assessing whether parties moved towards a lighter, open organizational setting, in line with the literature on Intra-Party Democracy and the changing nature of party membership, or if they kept more traditional distribution of power and functions within the party. By examining the evolution of party organization over time, we seek to evaluate the potential risks and opportunities associated with different models of party organization. Using data from both the Political Party Database Project (PPDB) and the Party Organization Data Handbook by Katz and Mair, we analyze both party organizations at the party system level and a sample of single parties. Our findings show a diversified pattern of party organizational evolution in our sample, without a clear trajectory across countries or across time, raising even more questions about the role of party organization in shaping the quality of electoral democracy.
Testing May's Law in Italy. An empirical investigation of the Democratic Party
Bruno Marino, Antonella Seddone, Marco Valbruzzi
Abstract
Since the publication of the seminal contribution by John May in the 1970s, the differentiated ideological congruence within political parties has been widely investigated. On the one hand, many pieces of research have focused on the ideological differences among different strata of political parties (party voters, party members, party activists, and party MPs and leaders) coming from several Western European countries. Empirical results have not always found evidence of the presence of the so-called ‘curvilinear disparity’ proposed by May. On the other hand, the original ‘May’s law’ has been subsequently modified and amended, to account for the importance of intra-party or structural factors in affecting the degree of parties’ internal congruence. Against this backdrop, the Partito Democratico (PD) represents an interesting case study to empirically explore the validity of May’s law more than 50 years after its inception. The usefulness of recurring to the study of the PD stems from different considerations: first, it is the most important Italian centre-left party and was part of government coalitions for many years; second, it is a party which has been extensively studied from many viewpoints (leadership, MPs, members, sympathizers, and voters); third, it has undergone different profound leadership and (possibly) ideological changes from its birth onwards; fourth, it has quite inclusive leader selection rules, allowing not only members but also sympathizers to have the final say in the selection of the party leader, thus giving considerable influence to people outside the party. In this paper, we explore the ideological congruence within different layers of the PD (leadership, members, sympathizers, and voters) in the last years, thanks to data coming from different sources (e,g,the Comparative Manifesto Project, the Chapel Hill Expert Survey, Candidate and Leader Selection, the Italian National Election Study). The Research Questions we will address are as follows: is there any evidence of the presence of curvilinear disparity’ within the PD? Has this disparity changed over the years - and to what extent? The paper - and the answers to the Research Questions - can be of interest for scholars interested in party politics, party membership, and Italian politics.
The 2022 Italian General Elections Campaign: parties, leaders and strategies on Facebook ADS
Daniela Piccio, Antonella Seddone
Abstract
With the growing digitalization of contemporary society political parties have been growingly relying on the internet for campaigning. The movement ‘from the fringe to the mainstream’ of digital campaigning predicted by Gibson and Ward (1998) did indeed take place, with social media platforms becoming a major tool for political advertising. While scholars in the Anglo-Saxon region – and more recently across Western continental Europe – have been devoting growing attention to this phenomenon, research is particularly scant in Italy despite the significant presence by political parties on digital platforms. We know little of the Italian parties and the candidates’ advertising strategies on social media platforms and we have a limited understanding of how this tool is being used, especially when it comes to money spent. The paper provides an empirical analysis of the political ADS published on Facebook by the six major political parties in Italy (Azione, Forza Italia, Fratelli d’Italia, Movimento 5 Stelle, Lega, Partito Democratico) and by their respective leaders, during the campaigning period for the Italian general elections of 25 September 2022. Based on the over 800 political acts collected using the Meta Ad Library, we analyse the volume and the timing of ads published; the amount of money spent on Facebook ads; the main topics covered by the political ads, their target audience and reach, comparing across the different political parties and candidates. Moreover, we argue that a close examination of this topic is necessary not only if we want to have a clearer understanding of what the Italian political parties are doing online (and which parties are doing most), but also to engage in the long-debated ‘normalization’ versus ‘equalization’ hypotheses concerning the impact of online activity on the ability of political actors to compete on equal grounds. As we shall see, this debate particularly applies for the case for Italy, where the online arena is not subject to any restriction and the private sources of income have become largely predominant, following the 2014 political finance reform repealing any direct forms of party funding. Is it the case that established and more resourceful actors benefit from the online political sphere more than their peripheral counterparts?
 

Panel 8.7 Populist Competition: Exploring Demand- and Supply-Side (I)


Populist parties are nowadays consolidated actors in the European continent. In almost every country in this area there is at least one highly influential populist party, and many national party systems are characterized by the co-existence of multiple populist actors. While the literature on these parties is abundant, and the competition with other parties has been widely explored (i.e., the stream of research on the “populist contagion”), much less attention has been paid to the competition ”between” populist actors. This aspect is crucial for understanding the successes and failures of these parties, especially for those ones that - despite quite similar political programs and ideological profiles - have rather different electoral outcomes. For this panel, we welcome pieces of research exploring this perspective. More specifically, we look forward to receiving papers that analyse how populist parties compete on the supply side, for example in terms of policy issues and communication. Equally appreciated are those pieces of research that explain how populist competition is structured on the demand side, accounting for the determinants of the different electoral results. Every methodological approach is accepted, as well as both single-case and comparative studies.

Chairs: Gianluca Piccolino

Discussants: Sofia Marini

The Populist Radical Right: the ‘Outer Mainstream’ of Contemporary European Politics
Mirko Crulli, Daniele Albertazzi
Abstract
Populist radical right parties (PRRPs) have often been defined as ‘challenger’ parties; however, a recent interpretation sees them as the ‘new mainstream’. The first approach fails to recognize that PRRPs are a well-rooted presence in the 21st century, while the second is based on a purely functional definition of the ‘mainstream’. We argue that, in order to evaluate whether a phenomenon is ‘mainstream’, both its supply-side and its demand-side must be considered. Having introduced an ‘attitudinal’ component to the definition of ‘mainstream’, we assess whether the populist radical right can be deemed to be ‘mainstream’ across 21 European countries, by relying on the 10th wave of the European Social Survey (September 2020–May 2022). The article concludes by defining the contemporary populist radical right as ‘the outer mainstream’: its supply-side (PRRPs) is recognized as being part of the mainstream, while its demand-side (PRR attitudes) still remains outside it.
Differential Impact of Populist Attitudes in the Vote in First- and Second-Order Elections: The Case of Portugal
José Santana Pereira
Abstract
In this article, the impact of citizens' populist attitudes on voting choices is assessed in the context of first- and second-order elections, with the expectation that this impact will be stronger in the latter, in which there is, in theory, more room for sincere rather than strategic voting. To test this hypothesis, I rely on survey data from the "Political Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal" research project in order to examine the extent to which populist attitudes, measured using the scale proposed by Akkerman et al. (2014), translated and adapted to the Portuguese language, affect the likelihood of voting for the Portuguese radical right-wing populist party Chega in future legislative elections or recalling having voted for its leader André Ventura in the presidential election of January 2021. The results show that populist attitudes increased the probability of having voted for André Ventura in the presidential elections, but have no impact on the probability of expressing an intention to vote for Chega in the legislative elections. These findings therefore have interesting implications from the point of view of how and when populist attitudes actually drive electoral behaviour.
Affective polarization and supply-side populism in Spain: The impact of affective polarization on the intention to vote for populist parties
Danilo Serani
Abstract
What is the effect of affective polarization (AP) on party choice? Despite the growing interest in analyzing the foundations of AP in two-party and multiparty systems, our knowledge of the electoral consequences of AP is still scarce. More precisely, the literature neglected the impact of AP on the intention to vote for populist parties (PP), which should represent the most attractive option for polarized people. This article investigates such association in Spain, where PPs can be found both in government and in the opposition. Using the third wave of a three-wave panel data, the study findings show that AP is positively associated with the probability to vote for PP; conversely, it does not play any role when explaining the voting for mainstream parties. However, a more refined analysis shows that AP is associated only with the voting for PP in the opposition when they compete with their governing counterparts.
Mobilization, demobilization and remobilizations of populist voters in longitudinal perspective. The case of Germany
Davide Vittori, Davide Angelucci
Abstract
Political scientists have long debated about the role of populism in liberal democracies: in particular, scholars have wondered whether this populist wave represents a threat or a corrective for democracy. On the one hand, populism insists on an anti-elitist, people-centric and anti-pluralist conception of democracy, which might be threatening for the core values of liberal democracies; on the other, populism is also perceived as a political phenomenon capable of mobilizing politically marginalized and alienated social groups, canalizing their rejection of the system into a more pro-systemic protest, thus indirectly strengthening the representativeness of the political system as whole. Recent contributions on the effect of populist parties’ presence for the election turnout have provided mixed results. Most of the literature on the rise of populist political parties (on the left and on the right) have so far focused on both of the demand and offer sides: in a nutshell, the drivers that lead to vote for populist parties, the political attitudes of the populist voters and what populist parties “offer” in term of policy proposals. Nonetheless, one often-neglected aspect in the literature is whether populist voters are a mobilized “social” group or whether they are disenfranchised and thus prefer to stay out of the system. It is often assumed that populists express their protest through the ballot box, yet we do not know whether all voters with populist attitudes do indeed mobilize or, rather, they prefer abstention. And, equally important, those who stay out of the system in what way are (more or less) alienated and “populist” compared to the electorate of populist parties? The analysis of the abstainers and the comparison of this group with other group of voters is still underdeveloped, not only in the study of populism. In a demobilized environment, such as those of in Western Europe, where participation has reached its lowest peak in the last decade, these questions are even more pressing. In this paper, we inquire whether and how populist attitudes as measured at the individual level are able to correct existing participatory unbalances. We do so by using the GLES dataset on the German case: GLES offers a unique panel and a longitudinal dataset that allows to look at the pattern of populist voters and abstainers before, during and after the entrance of a successful radical-right populist party, as AFD. Our paper proceed as follow, we explore the effect of individuals' populist attitudes on their intention to go to the polls and cast a vote in the next federal election; second, we investigate whether and to what extent populist attitudes are able to mitigate the widely documented adverse effects on political participation of social and political marginality; finally, focusing on vote flows between the 2013, 2017 and 2021 federal elections, we estimate the remobilisation/demobilisation potential of individual holding (or acquiring) populist attitudes. The paper thus intends to contribute to a larger body of literature on the effects of populism on participatory democracy.
‘European integration, radical parties and their voters: Who cues whom?’
Luca Carrieri, Davide Angelucci, Giorgos Charalambous
Abstract
On the issue domain of European integration in party competition, fluctuation and positional shifts have been much more on the poles of party systems compared to centre, where mainstream actors have been consistently pro-EU. While there is ample literature explaining these shifts from the perspective of radical parties on the basis of a moderating ideology or strategic concerns, these shifts and party positioning more generally have not been interacted with demand side responses, that is voter attitudinal shifts. It thus remains unclear whether radical parties cue their voters more than the latter cue the former. Theories of opinion leadership, the top down (or elite-driven) perspective, sees parties as ‘molding’ or ‘shaping’ public opinion in order to raise the salience of issues in which they are perceived as competent problem solvers. Advocates of responsiveness models, the bottom-up (or mass-driven) perspective, conceives parties as responding to evolving issue concerns in the public by adjusting their issue emphases and positions accordingly. To understand ‘who is cueing whom’, we advance a set of alternative hypotheses, as an integrative test of the two competing views. On the one hand, we hypothesise that Euroscepticism in radical party positions declines if their electorate shifts to more pro-EU attitudes, or vice versa, radical parties become more Eurosceptic if the electorate shifts to more anti-EU attitudes (H1). On the other hand, we hypothesise that Eurosceptic attitudes among voters decline if the party shifts to more pro-EU positions, or vice versa, Eurosceptic attitudes among voters increase if the party shifts to more anti-EU attitudes. By relying on longitudinal data from the Euromanifesto project and the European Elections Study, we test these hypotheses in 15 countries, differentiating between Radical Left Parties (RLPs) and Radical Right Parties (RRPs).
 

Panel 8.7 Populist Competition: Exploring Demand- and Supply-Side (II)


Populist parties are nowadays consolidated actors in the European continent. In almost every country in this area there is at least one highly influential populist party, and many national party systems are characterized by the co-existence of multiple populist actors. While the literature on these parties is abundant, and the competition with other parties has been widely explored (i.e., the stream of research on the “populist contagion”), much less attention has been paid to the competition ”between” populist actors. This aspect is crucial for understanding the successes and failures of these parties, especially for those ones that - despite quite similar political programs and ideological profiles - have rather different electoral outcomes. For this panel, we welcome pieces of research exploring this perspective. More specifically, we look forward to receiving papers that analyse how populist parties compete on the supply side, for example in terms of policy issues and communication. Equally appreciated are those pieces of research that explain how populist competition is structured on the demand side, accounting for the determinants of the different electoral results. Every methodological approach is accepted, as well as both single-case and comparative studies.

Chairs: Gianluca Piccolino

Discussants: Sorina Soare

Radical Right, Populist or What? Exploring the political culture of Fratelli d’Italia with a novel middle-level elite survey
Gianfranco Baldini, Filippo Tronconi
Abstract
This paper presents a novel dataset based on a middle-level elite survey of Fratelli d’Italia, the party that currently holds the office of Prime Minister in Italy. In May 2023 we collected new information on the political culture, attitudes, opinions of some 1,000 party leaders and elected officials at local, regional and national level through an online survey. The resulting dataset allows us to present an informed picture of this party on several dimensions, including its supposed populist, authoritarian, nativist traits, the relevance of the ideological legacy of predecessor parties, its positioning on the European Union and the international landscape. Several questions have been designed to allow a comparison between the positions of the elites and those of the voters of FdI and the Italian electorate at large.
“Don’t mind me; it’s the elite!” How parties’ anti-elitism salience explains issue blurring.
Paride Carrara
Abstract
Political parties are often accused of beclouding their true preferences in a fog of ambiguity in order to avoid detrimental issues and appeal to a larger audience. The literature that focuses on understanding why parties decide to present a more ambiguous position highlights how in a multidimensional context, parties decide which strategy to pursue depending on their attachment to the specific dimension. Indeed, more extreme parties both tend to emphasize and clarify their stance on the issues they champion while de-emphasizing and blurring on dimensions that are of secondary importance to them. While the present paper agrees with this view, it also shows how the focus on positional issues neglects the potential role of non-positional issues in shedding light on the conditions that determine the strategic use of ambiguity. In particular, the paper focus on the employment of anti-elitism rhetoric defined as a "quasi-valence" issue that has the potential to appeal to voters across the ideological spectrum and can be employed by any party regardless of their type or status. Therefore, by strategically deciding to compete using anti-elitism, which might be considered appreciated by a large group of voters, we expect parties to increase their ambiguity on positional dimensions. The reason for this expectation resides in the fact that positional issues are divisive by nature and have the intrinsic risk of alienating part of the electorate. Therefore, parties that stress anti-elitism have the incentive to blur their stances on the positional dimensions as this allows them to maintain their broad not-ideological appeal. The argument is tested using data from the Chapel Hill Expert Surveys (2010, 2014, 2019), electoral manifestos (MARPOR), and the V-Party dataset. The analysis is conducted on a dataset that covers more than 400 cases in 28 European countries and focuses on the parties' strategies concerning the economic and socio-cultural dimensions. The results show how parties that heavily rely on the "quasi-valence" issue of anti-elitism also tend to blur their stances on crucial positional dimensions, such as the economic and the socio-cultural, while controlling for other conditions that might impact position blurring, such as the relative party's attachment to the dimension and internal disagreement. The value of the present study lies in the attempt to bring together the literature on ambiguity and valence competition, as the strategic choice of parties to blur their position might be better understood while considering their strategic choices on non-positional issues.
Anti-establishment challengers in Italy and the Czech Republic. An Analysis of party organisation and leadership strategies of FI, Lega, FdI, ANO and SPD.
Tomas Cirhan , Mattia Collini
Abstract
Our paper explores the organisational and leadership strategies of new anti-establishment parties in Czechia and Italy. The electorally volatile and unstable party systems in the countries of central-eastern and southern Europe are associated with the constant emergence of new parties. The Czech party system is a great contemporary example of this phenomenon. A similar level of instability is associated with the Italian party system, and for some time. Whilst many newcomers make electoral breakthroughs, only some outlive their initial electoral success. Organisational survival and the role of party leaders are the factors that often precede the parliamentary survival of these new parties. In this paper, we compare the organisational settings and leadership strategies of four parties, two from Italy and two from the Czech Republic. Our case studies include Forward Italy (Forza Italia, FI), Action of Dissatisfied Citizens (Akce Nespokojených Občanů, ANO), Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d'Italia, FdI) and Freedom and Direct Democracy/Svoboda a přímá demokracie (SPD). Although all four parties share the fact that they started running on the anti-establishment ticket, they differ from each other in some respects. In addition to being formed as anti-establishment challengers, the former two parties are considered the pioneers of entrepreneurial parties in the context of Italian and Czech party systems. The latter two, on the other hand, represent the most successful far-right parties in their respective countries. Based on the analysis of statutes and organisational affairs of the concerned parties, we analyse the decision-making within the organisational structure, as well as the position of party leaders. Multiple factors, such as the leader's decision-making capacity, interventions to the autonomy of territorial party structures, and parties´ policy towards membership, form the basis of our comparative analysis. Such analyses allow us to determine what these case studies have in common in regards to the studied variables, and what it tells us about the role party structures and leadership play in the persistence of these new political actors. We have a hunch that centralised hierarchy combined with a strong position of party leaders props the organisational endurance of these parties. The similarity between the studied cases provides us with the opportunity to empirically test these expectations.
So far, so close? Explaining the different trajectories of Lega and Fratelli d’Italia
Gianluca Piccolino, Leonardo Puleo
Abstract
Fratelli d’Italia and Lega represent one of the most relevant examples of competition among populist parties. These two actors have seen sharp changes in electoral support in the two years leading up to the 2022 Italian elections, with the Lega collapsing from the high levels of support achieved in 2018-2019, while Fratelli d'Italia, conversely, has seen its support exceed more than 25%. The vast literature on populist parties has not yet devoted much attention to this aspect: how do populist parties compete with each other? The paper focus on the demand side, to account for the different strategies of these two parties in the last years and the way in which they tried to prevail over one another. We trace the competitive relationship between FdI and Lega in the 2018 general election, 2019 EP election and 2022 general election. More precisely, we explore to what extent the parties tried to provide distinct political supplies in terms of policies, ideology positions and anti-establishment stances. The paper draws on the analysis of the manifesto and documents published by the two parties during the electoral campaigns. Furthermore, we complement our analysis through a set of semi-structured interviews with party elites. Our findings will contribute to the literature on populist party competition, providing theoretical insights into which dimensions populist parties – holding similar positions – are expected to compete. Additionally, our results will also contribute to explaining the supply-side formula of FdI boosting its recent electoral success.
Do educational agenda help explain populist policy platforms? The case of the (Northern) League.
Giorgia Bulli, Paola Mattei
Abstract
The study of the relationship between parties and education policies has so far largely disregarded populist parties. Despite the success of this party family, little attention has been paid to their proposals in terms of education and interpretation of the role of schools and higher education in society. The central research question of the paper concerns the development of the educational agenda of the Northern League party in Italy, from 1994 to 2018. If the general framework suggests that political parties are losing power and influence in education matters, Italy can be considered an interesting deviant case. Education policy is politically divisive, with multiple stakeholders, different ideological preferences and vested interests. It should therefore come as no surprise that a party, as deeply rooted in the Italian party and political system as the Northern League, has invested in positioning itself in education policies both in terms of identity and argumentative strategies associated with the use of political symbols. Against this background, the purpose of the paper is to study how the Northern League’s education agenda is shaped by symbolic frames and rhetorical narratives that illustrate and reflect the ideological tenets and evolution of the party over the last decades. The discussion of the paper will also highlight the existence of convergences in education policy at the level of right-wing populist parties in Europe. Despite differences due to specific contexts, references to merit, adoption of reforms inspired by nativism and cultural homogeneity shape much of the programs of right-wing populist parties in Western Europe.
Does Economic Insecurity Drive the Electorate toward the Populist Radical Right? Evidence from the 2022 Italian Elections
Fabio Bordignon, Luigino Ceccarini, Giacomo Salvarani
Abstract
The 2022 Italian general elections witnessed the emergence of the radical right populist party Fratelli d'Italia (FdI), led by Giorgia Meloni, as the clear winner of the electoral competition. This occurred amidst an unprecedented increase in electoral abstention and long-standing sentiments of political discontent. Furthermore, prolonged economic stagnation, high unemployment rates, and bleak economic prospects have fostered economic insecurity over the past two decades in Italy. These sentiments favoured the rise of populist parties, which reached its climax in the 2018 General Election. During the 18th legislature, they were further fuelled by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. This article examines the relationship between citizens’ perceptions of the economy – both sociotropic and egotropic – and the 2022 national elections, and their interaction with other sources of insecurity. Existing scholarship has highlighted the role of economic insecurity, job insecurity, and socio-economic inequalities as drivers of populist (radical right) electoral success worldwide. In 2018 Italian general election, the success of the Five-star Movement (M5s) and the League was interpreted in the light of global dynamics and their economic and cultural consequences. In particular, the rise of the M5s and the ‘southernisation’ of the geographical distribution of its support have been linked to its ambitious plan to tackle difficult economic conditions through its ‘citizenship income’ project. Drawing on the literature exploring the impact of the economy on political behaviour, which has recently questioned the positive link between the populist radical right's electoral success and economic insecurity, we hypothesize that: 1) in terms of party choice, the M5s was once again the main catalyst for expressions economic and job insecurity in 2022; 2) economic insecurity primarily deterred voters from casting their ballots. Moreover, we explore the interplay between pre-existing feelings of (economic and cultural) insecurity and attitudes regarding responses to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine in affecting the voting choice (and the choice to abstain). To test our hypotheses, we conduct a statistical analysis using post-electoral survey data collected by the Electoral Observatory LaPolis – University of Urbino Carlo Bo. Our objective is to contribute to the existing literature on Italian elections and on populist voting, as well as to the scholarship dealing with the factors influencing political (dis)engagement from the perspective of the economy.
 

Panel 8.8 Party Reform and Causal Complexity: Disentangling the Process of Programmatic-, Personnel- and Organizational reforms


For decades now, West European politics has witnessed radical changes. Mainstream parties, once oligarchs in remarkably stable political systems, are experiencing profound challenges that affect their legitimacy. This raises the question of their decline, or even their death, in the context of the alleged crisis of representative democracy. Yet, parties can be extremely resilient by responding to the internal and external challenges they experience (e.g., Kölln, 2014; Gauja, 2017). Parties’ responses to these shocks are multiple: programmatic realignment (e.g., Walgrave & Nuytemans, 2009), leadership change (e.g., Pedersen & Schumacher, 2015), (democratic) organizational adjustments (e.g., Cross & Katz, 2013) or digitalization (e.g., Barberà et al., 2021). Crucially, these ‘remedies’ may have diverse effects on parties’ survival and legitimacy.
Since the burgeoning of cross-national data, the contemporary literature has mainly focused on identifying the most salient factors explaining why parties have implemented a wide variety of reforms on the three dimensions of their political product (ideology, political personnel, and organization). But this predominant approach has since been increasingly criticized by scholars wary of falling into an institutional determinism confined to the identification of conditional antecedents and the prediction of their final outcome (Bell, 2011; Bale, 2012 Gauja, 2017). A growing body of literature is now building on a more constructivist approach to these processes in order to gain more detailed knowledge of them. Crucially, it focuses on the causal complexity underlying the politics of party reforms, as well as the role of individual agency in their unfolding.
This panel welcomes papers aiming at addressing the complementary questions of why and how party reform processes unfold and ultimately succeed. We are also open to contributions addressing the failure of reforms, which is under-exploited in the literature although it allows identifying their main barriers (intra-party conflicts, privileges safeguarding, lack of resources, etc.). We are particularly interested in studies that focus on the configurational nature of the causes of party reforms and/or that identify the causal mechanisms explaining the trajectory taken by reform processes.

Chairs: Sacha Rangoni

Discussants: Thomas Legein

An account of the ideological change in Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi), 2010-2020: ideas, coalitions, external factors
Carlo Sanna
Abstract
The Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) in Turkey is the second biggest party in Turkey for membership dimension and vote share, and the main opposition party since 2002. Despite the relevant role it covers in the Turkish party system, the CHP remains understudied. There is a rich literature produced in the period that goes from its reopening in 1992 to the first decade of the 2000s (Güneş-Ayata 2002; Turan 2006; Ayata and Güneş-Ayata 2007; Keyman and Öniş 2007; Coşar and Özman 2008; Ciddi 2008, 2009). However, the academic interest decreased in the following decade (2010-20), despite this started with the election of Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu as the new chairman of the party, and the beginning of a new phase for the CHP. Some studies have been carried out to analyze the substance of intra-party change brought by the new leadership, but they were conducted too close to the leadership change to be possible for them to frame the complete picture (Tosun 2010; Kömürcü 2011; Kiriş 2013; Ciddi 2014). Thus, they mostly end up with an open question, asking whether this change was just “new wine in an old cellar” (Gülmez 2013). Because of this, scholars of Turkish politics had to resort mostly on the pre-2010 conceptualizations to carry out new research and produce new knowledge on the CHP and on the Turkish party system (Aydogan and Slapin 2015; Akgönül and Oran 2019; Oran and Akkoyunlu 2019). This proposal aims to contribute in filling this void by enquiring on the ideological evolution of the CHP during the first decade of Kılıçdaroğlu’s leadership (2010-20), and on the complexity of the factors and mechanisms that caused reform and change in the party. The main object of analysis is the ideology of the party: I will focus on the CHP’s understanding of secularism and its positioning on the left-right political spectrum, as they are among the topics, I argue, for which pre-2010 conclusions need to be updated the most. The above mentioned literature widely addresses these two topics in an interrelated way. It shows that in the 90s and early 2000s the CHP adopted a staunch, intransigent, “assertive” (Kuru 2007) approach to secularism. It then uses (also) this argument to theorize an “ideological inconsistency”: a non-coherence between the leftist, social-democratic outlook it claims on-paper (CHP 1992, 2008) and the positions it takes in-action. I argue that, during the decade took as the object of this proposal, the party re-positioned itself and developed a new discourse and a new ideological outlook that made it possible to be perceived as a “coherent” force of the center(left) of the political spectrum by other right-wing and conservative political actors. I also aim to provide an explanation of this processes of ideological change as a consequence of intra-party power dynamics, which are prompted by both internal and external factors. In doing this, I build on the theory of “ideas as coalition magnets” initially developed by Beland and Cox (2015) to explain power relations in coalition building, and apply it to the formation of intra-party coalitions. Another theoretical pillar will be drawn from the literature on party change and on the functioning of political parties as organizations (Panebianco 1988; Deschouwer 1992; Harmel and Janda 1994; Adams et al. 2004, 2009; Schumacher et al. 2013). I explain ideological change (over the positions of the party on secularism) as the resultant of the clash, prompted by environmental shocks, between intra-party competing élites that used ideas as “coalition magnets”. ​To do this, I will resort to different kinds of primary and secondary sources: from data collected personally through semi-structured interviews conducted with selected former and current party elites (MPs, delegates, members of the governing bodies) and through research in the archives of the CHP and of the National Library in Ankara, to data extracted from the database of the Party Manifesto Project – MARPOR (Lehmann, et al. 2022). The paper will be structured as follows. I will begin with a review of the literature, to frame the main flaws in the conceptualization of the ideological positioning of the CHP. Taking account of these conclusions, I will explain my research question and my main argument, as anticipated above. To prove it, I will first resort to the data extracted from the MARPOR database, which will be used to support the consistency of my claim that there is a need to re-discuss the conclusions on the ideological positioning of the CHP. Then, resorting to the theories on intra-party change and on the functioning of political parties as organizations (Lynton 1973; Janda 1990; Panebianco 1988; Deschouwer 1992; Harmel and Janda 1994; Adams et al. 2004, 2009; Schumacher et al. 2013), and through the methodology of process tracing, I will analyze the data collected during my research periods in Turkey between 2022 and 2023, discuss it and formulate my conclusions.
Left Conservatism or Social Democracy? Determinants of Communist Successor Parties’ Identity Formation and Change
Gianmarco Bucci
Abstract
In the decade after the fall of the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe, scholars of party politics have particularly been interested in the process of identity formation of communist successor parties, the heirs of the old communist parties. Studies have focused on their survival and adaptation strategies, their impact on the democratic process and organizational features, contributing to a vivid debate both on the parties them-selves, but also on the factors that have contributed to shape their diverging ideologies. This resulted in a theoretical discussion clustered around “externalist” and “internalist” approaches: the externalist approach highlighted the importance of external elements in the process of party identity formation (such as legacies of the past, electoral competition, expanding electoral base, transnational factors and the resulting incentives produced by these changes); the internalists considered internal distribution of power and institutional culture within political parties to set parties’ identity. Decades after the transition – considering the critical role still played by these actors – assumptions upon their ideological and programmatic change shall be updated, with particular attention on the one side to the modified structural conditions within which communist successor parties act, and on the other side on the new thematical and ideological divides around which renovated party factions position them-selves. The present paper wants to propose a new approach through which assessing communist successor parties’ identity formation and ideological change, responding to the call of integrating internalist and externalist approaches (along the repeated efforts to synthetize historical and rational choice institutionalisms). It will draw its conclusions upon an empirical observation of two cases in which communist successor parties have first moderated their nationalist and authoritarian stances, only to restore their cultural-conservative programs a decade or so later: the Romanian Social Democratic Party and the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
Mobilization vs. Organization: patterns of grassroot participation in Corbyn's Labour Party (2015-2020)
Robin Piazzo, Domenico Cerabona
Abstract
This paper aims at proposing a general assesment of the patterns of grassroot participation in support of the cause of the Labour left under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Distinguishing between mobilizing and organizing approaches (Han, 2010), I will argue that, in this specific case, the former has both attracted more investment by the leadership and has produced better pay offs. I will further my argument by analysing two key domains of participation populated by left-leaning activists and supporters: Momentum as an intra-party organization of the left and local sections of the Labour Party as sites for involvement and contestation. The first thing that must be noted is that the participation of the base has been the most relevant resource wielded by the corbynists. Lacking any form of entrenched power within both the party and the media, the utterly marginal faction of New Left veterans obtained the leadership in 2015 thanks to an extraordinary mobilazion fuelled by the supporters of the anti-austerity movements and the unions. From then on, the leadership has repeatedly survived threats from both within and without wielding the capacity to mobilize a very reactive base. This approach has been internalized by Momentum, the intra-party organization officially tasked with protecting the leadership and furthering the project of the left within the party. Momentum has followed a digital-based mobilizing approach both in action and organization building, promoting digital tools facilitating connective action in electoral campaigns and developing a light, stratarchised structure along the “distributed centralization” model of digital parties. The whole participatory infrastructure of the organization revolves around the resonant features of digital tools tasked with amplyifing participation at critical junctures, without however allowing a significant structuration of local groups and intermediary structures. This organizational model is a consequence of the need to mobilize large portions of the base in specific moments but with few resources and preventing risks of take-over by hostile groups. As for participation in local sections of the party, we observe a pattern of repeated activation and deactivation of the left, often with discontinuities in personnel. The rythm of these patterns has been set by highly emotional events at the national level, such as threats to the leadership from within the party and general elections. Often left-wing activists have exploited these exogenous waves of participation to get control of local party structures, but have since struggled to keep their base sufficiently active. At the local level the most significant cause of these patterns is once again Momentum’s organized neglect of local organizing which results in a lack of redistribution of resources and of the structuration of official positions: therefore the left could only count on high levels of participation when enthusiasm and stakes have been high, given the lack of incentives to participation other than purposive ones; alongside with this aspects there are two other elements explaining the predominance of mobilizing: the aversion of “movementist” members against party rotines and bureucracy and the “trench warfare” launched by right wing activists at the local level.
Local patterns of change in Salvini’s League
Ghita Bordieri
Abstract
Political party change is a complex process that is often studied only at the national level, ignoring the importance of local party organizations. This article focuses on how party change occurs locally and highlights the significance of considering meso-level dynamics. I will address the problem of the relations between ideological changes and political practices and how this topic has been conceptualized in the literature. Finally, I will provide will two examples from a broader research on party change inside the Lega Salvini Premier party. I will use some excerpts from interviews with members and party personnel and field notes I took during local events. We will consider two of the most drastic elements that changed during the transformation from Lega Nord to Lega Salvini Premier: (1) Regionalism and Nationalism and (2) the weakening or abandonment of the mass party model. Through these examples, I will show that different branches have different local idiocultures and thus locally interpret the same national events differently, with significant consequences on how organizational change occurs in different local contexts despite being part of the same general process in the same national organization. A substantial part of party change is ignored if we don’t consider what happens locally.
 

Panel 8.9 Electoral competition, electoral space, issues and the vote function in 2022 Italian elections. A public opinion perspective.


In the 2022 elections, the vote outcome was clear and indicated a solid majority on the right. However, this result does not provide answers to the still open questions regarding the transformations of the Italian political landscape, especially when seen from the point of view of the voters. How did the voters experience the electoral competition between the juxtaposed areas, on the one side the center-right led by Giorgia Meloni and on the other side the composite set of its opponents? Which issues did the public perceive as the most salient during the electoral campaign and which ones did produce the most prominent fractures, between and within areas? And, at the end of the day, which were the profound reasons that guided the choices of the Italian voters?

The panel aims to shed light on these questions, inviting contributions based on the analysis of public opinion data (electoral surveys), especially the ITANES 2022 data. The questionnaires of the Itanes survey will be made available in May 2023 while the data will be released in July. A pre-release beta version of the Itanes data will be made available to the authors of the accepted proposals.

Chairs: Franca Roncarolo, Cristiano Vezzoni

Discussants: Linda Basile

Unraveling the Links between Ethnic Concentration and Support for Right-Wing Populist Parties: An Examination of the 2022 Italian National Elections
Giulia Sarcone, Moreno Mancosu
Abstract
In the past decade, Italy has witnessed significant growth in support for right-wing radical parties, even in its major urban centers. Ethnic concentration is posited as one potential explanation for this surge, a pattern also evident in the electoral communication of radical right-wing parties, not just in Italy. Academic research in political geography has been dedicated to assessing whether ethnic concentration is a significant determinant of support for the populist radical right (Lubbers et al., 2002; Savelkoul et al., 2017; Schneider, 2008; Stockemer, 2016; Valdez, 2014; Coffe et al., 2007). Empirically, the presence of ethnic minorities in a specific area has been shown to have either positive or negative association with support levels for right-wing parties, according to the context considered (De Blok & Van der Meer, 2018). These inconsistent results have prompted further exploration, particularly around the "halo effect" theory, which posits that support for radical right-wing populist parties is higher when the concentration of ethnic minorities is greater in areas surrounding, rather than within, the native voters’ area of residence (Eatwell, 2003; Martig & Bernauer, 2018; Rydgren & Ruth, 2013). As a result, the hypothesized mechanisms in the “halo effect” theory depend on the location and distribution of the ethnic concentration. If the latter is higher in the voters’ immediate area of residence, contact theory is expected to apply, creating a negative correlation with the support for radical right-wing parties. If ethnic concentration is stronger in neighboring areas, we expect that voters, observing minorities from a distance without direct contact, may perceive them as a potential threat, thereby increasing support for right-wing populist parties (Martig & Bernauer, 2018; Rydgren & Ruth, 2013). This study tests the halo effect hypothesis in the Italian urban context, using data from the 2022 Italian national elections, where a landslide victory was secured by the right-wing coalition led by the radical right-wing party, Fratelli d'Italia (Zulianello & Larsen, 2021). The analysis combines georeferenced data from the electoral sections of the 2022 elections and census section data, focusing on eight major Italian cities: Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, and Turin (for total of 8709 ecological units). Contrary to previous research that mainly focuses on municipal-level analysis, this study examines the lowest aggregate level – electoral/census sections – offering a more detailed understanding of neighborhood-level variations. Preliminary investigations using 2021 local election data in Bologna, Milan, Rome, and Turin have already indicated the presence of the halo effect in these cities, exhibiting a negative correlation between support for right-wing populist parties and ethnic concentration in the area of residence, and a positive correlation when considering neighboring areas. By dissecting the spatial dynamics and impacts of ethnic concentration on right-wing populist voting behavior, this study contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the conditions that foster right-wing populism, thereby helping shape strategies to mitigate political polarization and promote social cohesion.
"Ideological" consistency of issue attitudes
Nicola Maggini, Lorenzo De Sio, Elisabetta Mannoni
Abstract
The structure of citizens’ issue attitude space in West European politics has been long (and is still largely) described in terms of low-dimensionality summary schemes, usually involving not more than two or three dimensions of conflict. Yet, the success of many "challenger" parties proposing innovative, ideologically cross-cutting policy platforms has revealed the presence of more complex, apparently "inconsistent" issue attitudes (e.g. the widely known "left-authoritarians"). We investigate this topic by using the unique ICCP comparative survey dataset, featuring citizen attitudes on more than 20 country-specific positional issues in 8 countries from Western/Southern and Eastern Europe, plus the United States. ICCP data cover general elections held in 2017-2020, plus the recent 2022 Italian general election. In particular, we analyse attitude scalability in each of several policy domains, and then develop innovative measures of consistency, that also take into account issue priority perceptions. Such measures are then applied in turn to each policy domain, then to domains aggregated into 2-3 general dimensions, and finally to dimensions aggregated into an overarching left-right dimension. We proceed to identify relevant predictors of attitude consistency, with special attention to generational differences and party preference.
Affective Polarization and Negative Voting in Italian Elections
Diego Garzia
Abstract
Since the early 2010s, a substantial number of studies have taken a novel approach to party polarization that concentrates on partisan feelings. This concept is referred to as affective polarization, defined by the extent to which voters have positive sentiments for their own party, while holding negative ones towards competing out-party/parties. Although the topic has mostly been studied in the USA, recent evidence has shown that affective polarization is also present in parliamentary and multiparty systems, sometimes to an even greater extent than in two-party and presidential systems. In this paper, I will present novel longitudinal evidence on affective polarization in Italy. I will do so by making use of the ITANES time series (1968-2022). I will also provide insights into the electoral consequences of affective polarization through the lens of negative voting – defined as an electoral choice more strongly driven by negative attitudes toward the opposition than by positive attitudes toward one’s own choice. To this purpose, I will rely on the negative voting mini-module that has been included in the ITANES post-election questionnaire of 2022.
The Italian right and Euroscepticism in the 2022 general elections
Fabio Serricchio, Gianluca Passarelli
Abstract
The negative attitude of Italians towards the European Union has grown over the years due to a complex combination of economic, identity, and political motivations. In recent years, the anti-EU stance in Italy has taken on the characteristics of an anti-establishment critique, fueled by the right-wing and previously by the Five Star Movement (M5s), combining elements of populism and aversion to migration policies. However, the conflicting relationship between the Italian Right and Europe takes on different nuances depending on the parties within the coalition led by Meloni. This paper aims to investigate the various motivations fueling Euroscepticism within the three main right-wing parties, with a particular focus on the 2022 elections, in which the position on Europe has drawn a clear demarcation line more than ever before. Using Eurobarometer and Itanes data, it seeks to shed light on these differences.
Voters' perception of governing populist parties: Fratelli d'Italia after the 2022 election
Sofia Marini
Abstract
The 2022 election in Italy saw the rise of the radical right-wing party Fratelli d’Italia, that has become the largest one in terms of electoral support. Its success culminated in the premiership of its leader, Giorgia Meloni, heading a government coalition consisting of more experienced right-wing coalition partners. Fratelli d’Italia instead, although not a complete outsider in Italian politics, had never held office before. This paper aims to assess how the public perception of the party has changed once it reached government. Participating in government is a crucial step in the institutionalization of all political parties, increasing their power, resources and visibility. But it should be an important signal particularly for populist and radical actors, to be perceived as part of the political establishment. Indeed, the inclusion in a government coalition would legitimize them and boost their image as institutional actors. Some research has also argued that engaging in electoral competition gradually reduces the ideological extremeness of radical actors. This may be especially true for governing parties, whose agenda is restrained either by the need to compromise with coalition partners or by external constraints such as supra-national guidelines or extraordinary events. This paper aims to understand if the position of Fratelli d’Italia, once in government, is perceived differently by voters. Previous research suggests that citizens assess the position of parties by relying on informational cues, for instance coalition choices. We know that coalition partners are seen as closer to each other, with a greater influence of larger and more centrist actors, but we do not know whether these findings hold for populist actors, as well. Indeed, I argue that populists in government face a trade-off between legitimation and differentiation. In fact, ideological moderation might help them present themselves as reliable institutional partners. However, becoming part of the mainstream might risk alienating voters that support the party precisely due to its anti-establishment character. Therefore, the question of how the party is perceived becomes even more pressing. I hypothesise that, all else being equal, Fratelli d’Italia is perceived as more moderate after the election. I plan to test this hypothesis by leveraging on the panel dimension of the ITANES questionnaire, by comparing how the estimated position on the Left-right scale of Fratelli d’Italia has changed, for each respondent, between the pre- and post-election surveys. Accordingly, I will estimate statistical models that allow me to disentangle to what extent the announcement that Fratelli d’Italia would be the main governing party has affected its perceived position among voters.
 

Panel 8.10 The mixed electoral systems - hopes and traps (I)


Thirty years ago, New Zealand's referendum on electoral reform ushered in a "golden age" of mixed electoral systems. According to the title of the influential book by Shugart and Wattenberg, they were intended to combine "The Best of Both Worlds". They were also supposed to improve the quality of democracy. The purpose of our panel is to exchange experience and summaries of this period. Have mixed systems, implemented in so many countries, lived up to the hopes placed in them? Are these hopes still there? Do the collected experience indicate what are the weaknesses and what are the strengths of such systems?
Electoral systems are threatened by the emergence of "traps" - unforeseen consequences of applied rules that generate questionable behaviors of parties, candidates, or voters. Three decades of experience with various variants of mixed systems allow us to identify such traps and seek remedies.
The panel will demonstrate whether the ability to cast two votes, with different functions from the system's point of view, is actually used by voters in the way intended by the system designers. Is this an added value, allowing for a better expression of voters' will, or just a loophole, opening the way to ambiguous decisions? The panel will also show what system corrections are possible in the face of such phenomena as surplus mandates and how such systems cope in practice with reconciling proportionality and territorial representation. Whether ideological proximity of representatives still contradicts geographical proximity, or whether a new quality has really been created here.
The panel is an opportunity for a multifaceted assessment of mixed systems and exchange of experiences among researchers from different countries and analyzing electoral systems from different but related perspectives. The experiences of Italy in the field of using a mixed electoral system are undoubtedly extremely valuable here. They provide an opportunity to analyze the relationships between parties, candidates, and voters in conditions of two-level political competition.

Chairs: Jaroslaw Flis

Discussants: Jeremiasz Salamon

Coordinating candidacies: Payoff Allocation in Pre-Electoral Coalitions
Gianni Del Panta, Mattia Guidi, Tristan Klingelhöfer
Abstract
Majoritarian and mixed-member electoral systems might favour, especially in highly fragmented party systems, the formation of pre-electoral coalitions. Although scholars know a good deal about the conditions that increased the likelihood that potential electoral coalitions could be formed, the field of inter-party bargaining about joint candidates remains relatively understudied. This article aims to develop a theory of payoff allocation in pre-electoral coalitions. It does so by exploring the 2022 Italian snap election, which was held using a mixed system in which about two-thirds of the seats are distributed proportionally among party lists and the remaining third in single-member districts using the ‘first-past-the-post’ formula. The article analyses the distribution of candidacies in the majoritarian tier of the mixed-member system looking at the two major coalitions, the centre-left and centre-right one. It proposes and empirically tests some hypotheses about the way in which the parties of a pre-electoral coalition bargain candidacies, pointing to the reasons that concur to explain one of the main puzzles of the election – that is, the significant over-representation of Lega within the centre-right coalition.
Three decades experience of the Hungarian mixed electoral systems
Fanni Tanács-Mandák
Abstract
At the time of the Hungarian democratic transition, a new, mixed electoral system was introduced, which was one of the most complicated and complex electoral systems in Europe. The introduced three-channel mixed system was intended to answer to a variety of needs and political concepts, and enabled coalition government at the newly established multi-party system. In addition to the fear of the possibility of the formation of a new non-democratic system, this decision was also motivated by the fact that the newly formed parties could not have assessed their chances, so they sought guarantees in case of their defeat. Proportional rules were applied at two levels of the 3-channel system: at the regional (152 mandates) and at the national (58 mandates) party list channel. The mandates of the national party list channel - forming a very specific solution in international comparison – were distributed on the basis of the surplus votes obtained both at the regional party list channel and at the single member constituencies. The third channel included single member constituencies (176 mandates) based on an absolute majority system. The majority of Hungarian parliamentary mandates were therefore allocated by proportional system between 1990 and 2010. The right wing government coalition that won the elections of 2010 transformed the electoral system causing widespread and solid debates both at international public and at political science and constitutional literature. The comprehensive reform that affected both the composition of the parliament and the electoral system, adopted in 2011, significantly reduced the number of parliamentary mandates (from 386 to 199) and, while maintaining the mixed system, transformed the previous system in such a way that, most of the mandates (106) are allocated by simple majority system. The former compensation instrument remained, but was significantly modified, reducing its true compensatory character. The main goal of the two mixed electoral systems was to create government stability and efficiency. The two electoral systems undoubtedly created governmental stability, Hungary is the only country in the Central-Eastern European region where not a single early election was held in the last 30 years. In the examined period, two prime ministers did not complete their full mandate, but in both cases the reason was a personal scandal and the government majority was able to nominate and elect a new head of government. In addition to a detailed comparison of the elements of the two mixed electoral systems, the purpose of the paper is to describe their (not always positive) impact on parliamentary representation, the party system and the entire political system.
Mixed electoral system - the best or the worst for Poland?
Bartłomiej Michalak
Abstract
Mixed electoral systems are the youngest group of electoral systems. In the 1950s, only Germany used a mixed electoral system. In the 1980s, it was three countries and now we have more than 30 countries using some type of mixed electoral system. In Poland, the first attempt to adopt a mixed proportional electoral system was already in the early 1990s. Finally, Polish decision-makers decided to implement an electoral system based on party-list proportional representation. However, that decision did not end the discussion. Three decades later, there are still new concepts about the electoral system for Poland. It seems that a mixed electoral system that combines proportional representation with single-member districts may be the ideal solution– the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, some of these systems rather combine– reference to Bawn and Thies – the worst of both worlds. An interesting question is what would happen in Poland. What would be the consequences of implementing such a system? Is a mixed electoral system suitable for Polish parliamentary elections? And last but not least, what type of mixed electoral system would be the best for Poland.
Territorial and ideological representation in the MMP system
Jaroslaw Flis, Marek Kaminski, Katarzyna Lorenc
Abstract
In the classic classification of electoral systems, the feature of PR systems was to prioritize ideological representation over territorial representation. On the other hand, in the FPTP system, the main emphasis on the representation level was placed on territorial representation. A member of parliament was supposed to represent their constituency, and the fact that its inhabitants could be almost evenly divided between opposing parties was ignored. The MMP system was designed to find a balance between these approaches. However, similar expectations were also placed on OL-PR, in which voters can indicate a candidate on the party list based on their territorial proximity. Our study compares these four systems based on the example of elections in New Zealand, Scotland, Baden-Württemberg, and Poland.
 

Panel 8.10 The mixed electoral systems - hopes and traps (II)


Thirty years ago, New Zealand's referendum on electoral reform ushered in a "golden age" of mixed electoral systems. According to the title of the influential book by Shugart and Wattenberg, they were intended to combine "The Best of Both Worlds". They were also supposed to improve the quality of democracy. The purpose of our panel is to exchange experience and summaries of this period. Have mixed systems, implemented in so many countries, lived up to the hopes placed in them? Are these hopes still there? Do the collected experience indicate what are the weaknesses and what are the strengths of such systems?
Electoral systems are threatened by the emergence of "traps" - unforeseen consequences of applied rules that generate questionable behaviors of parties, candidates, or voters. Three decades of experience with various variants of mixed systems allow us to identify such traps and seek remedies.
The panel will demonstrate whether the ability to cast two votes, with different functions from the system's point of view, is actually used by voters in the way intended by the system designers. Is this an added value, allowing for a better expression of voters' will, or just a loophole, opening the way to ambiguous decisions? The panel will also show what system corrections are possible in the face of such phenomena as surplus mandates and how such systems cope in practice with reconciling proportionality and territorial representation. Whether ideological proximity of representatives still contradicts geographical proximity, or whether a new quality has really been created here.
The panel is an opportunity for a multifaceted assessment of mixed systems and exchange of experiences among researchers from different countries and analyzing electoral systems from different but related perspectives. The experiences of Italy in the field of using a mixed electoral system are undoubtedly extremely valuable here. They provide an opportunity to analyze the relationships between parties, candidates, and voters in conditions of two-level political competition.

Chairs: Jaroslaw Flis

Discussants: Jeremiasz Salamon

The problem of surplus seats in mixed member proportional systems and its consequences in regard to the size of parliament. Evidence from Germany
Joachim Behnke
Abstract
One typical consequence of mixed member proportional systems is the emergence of surplus seats. This phenomenon plays an especially important role in the discussion about electoral reform in Germany. In the focus of reform proposals stands the problem of the augmentation of the size of parliament as a consequence for balancing the surplus seats with adjustment seats. This effect led in the last two elections of 2017 and 2021 to an augmentation of about 20%. To deal with this problem in April 2020 the Bundestag established a commission for electoral reform, which consisted of experts and politicians and should develop proposals to handle this problem. In the beginning of 2023 the parties of the ruling "Ampel"-coalition introduced their proposal for reform in the Bundestag. The paper and presentation will deal with the mechanisms at work in producing the augmentation, the several proposals made to prevent or diminish this effect and will show especially the expected consequences of the current proposal of the new law by using simulations.
The Dark side of simultaneous elections? The case of Sicily in 2022 Italian national elections.
Danilo Di Mauro, Marco Valerio Livio La Bella
Abstract
Instruments of “electoral engineering” such as compulsory voting, incentives and simultaneous multi-level voting, become pretty common in contemporary democracies, especially where low turnout rates emerged. Simultaneous elections – i.e. the practice to make an election day where different governments (usually at local and national level, or including referendums) are elected – implies a reduction of costs for the institutions and an increased empowerment for electors. However, these kinds of measures do not address the deep sentiments of disaffection for political institutions that are often at the origin of non-voting. Moreover, simultaneous elections with different voting rules might confuse electors increasing the number of invalid votes. In order to test for the advantages and the threats of simultaneous elections, this study focuses on the recent case of the Italian general elections of 25th of September 2022, during which also the election of the president and the regional assembly of Sicily were run simultaneously. The latter represents a regional context where atavistic disaffection and high volatility marked the turnout rate of the last thirty years. By looking to electoral results at the local (town) level, we specifically test whether a) simultaneous elections of the regional government/parliament and the national parliament increased the turnout rate; and b) whether different electoral rules for the elections of the three institutional bodies (the president of the region, the reginal parliament and the national parliament) had no damaging effects in terms of invalid vote.
Pre-reform party competition and contamination of single-member districts in mixed-member systems: Path-dependant or not?
Dušan Vučićević
Abstract
Three decades ago, there was a surge in the popularity of mixed-member (MM) electoral systems throughout the world, with dozens of countries implementing the MM system. Thirty years later, initial predictions that they would provide the best of both worlds (two-bloc party systems without reducing minor parties to insignificance; local accountability and nationally oriented party systems) have mostly been hampered. One of the main explanations for the unintended and unexpected consequences of MM system implementation is the contamination of electoral competition in SMDs (single-member districts). As parties are incentivized to run candidates even when and where they are not viable, party competition in MM SMDs differs from what we can expect in FPTP (first-past-the-post) or TRS (two-round system). Additionally, strategic incentives to run everywhere vary between subtypes of MM systems. In one-vote MM systems, parties have to run candidates in as many SMDs as possible to be successful. In MM systems with seat linkage, the party configuration of parliaments is decided by list votes, with a smaller value of SMD votes and consequently less incentive to nominate candidates in every district. Parallel systems lie somewhere between one-vote and seat-linkage MM systems. However, initial findings do not confirm those expectations because competition in one-vote MM systems is not as fragmented as we should anticipate. Therefore, we are interested in alternative explanations for different levels of SMD contamination. As electoral systems do not emerge in a vacuum, pre-reform party competition can decisively impact the strategic considerations of political actors after the institutionalization of MM systems. Our main research question is: In what ways does pre-reform party competition (one-party systems, dominant-party systems, two-party systems, moderate pluralism, and polarized pluralism) impact contamination of SMD competition in MM systems? We expect that pre-reform party configuration will be mostly preserved even after the implementation of mixed electoral rules, except in the case of a critical juncture (one-party system breakdown). Our empirical analysis is based on results from over 24,000 SMDs in over 125 elections in 24 countries over the course of seven decades. The main dependent variables are the effective number of candidates in SMDs, SF ratio, TF ratio, and vote share of third- and lower-placed candidates. Besides different subtypes of MM systems and patterns of pre-reform party competition, we are testing the influence of other important electoral factors (i.e., effective threshold, the share of list mandates), institutional factors (i.e., federalism, direct presidential elections), and contextual factors (i.e., margin of victory, number of elections under MM systems, population/country size).
Lights and shadows of a two-vote system. A case of split-ticket voting in mixed electoral systems
Jeremiasz Salamon
Abstract
One of the ten criteria formulated by the Royal Commission on the Electoral System for the new electoral system for the New Zealand House of Representatives concerned effective voter participation. According to this criterion, if individual citizens are to play a full and active part in the electoral process, the voting system should provide them with mechanisms and procedures which they can readily understand. At the same time, the power to make and unmake governments should be in hands of people at an election and the votes of all electors should be of equal weight in influencing election results. The experience of nine New Zealand mixed parliamentary elections provides a basis for assessing whether, and if so, to what extent, the electoral system applied in this country meets the above-mentioned criterion. This applies in particular to the two-vote system functioning within the New Zealand MMP electoral system, through which New Zealanders can express their preferences both concerning party lists and individual candidates. The system based on two categorical votes allows voters to split their votes between a candidate and a list registered by two different political parties. According to the data of the New Zealand Electoral Commission, on average, every third voter expresses their political preferences by splitting votes. Therefore, the question arises whether this pattern of expressing political preferences is a consequence of effective voter participation or the result of the efforts made by political parties. Who benefits from the split-ticket voting: the voters, who thus express their complex political preferences more fully, or the political parties, who maximize their electoral outcome thank votes splitting? The paper will present analyses concerning i.a. the intensity of the phenomenon of split-ticket voting in the elections to the House of Representatives of New Zealand, directions of vote flow and territorial differences in the occurrence of split-ticket voting. In addition, an attempt will be made to identify the reasons for this pattern of voting and to indicate its political beneficiaries. The results of the research will be confronted with the experience of other countries using the mixed system, which will allow us to answer the question of whether the two-vote system applied in the vast majority of mixed electoral systems ensures effective voter participation, or whether a more optimal solution, i.e. more fully implementing the "best of both worlds" postulate, is the single-vote system (applied until recently in elections to the Landtag of Baden-Württemberg).
 

Panel 8.11 Party competition and the restructuring of European party systems between old and new conflicts (I)


Over the last years, as a result of multiples crises (the Great Recession, the Euro crisis, the migration crisis, and so forth), party systems in Europe have undergone remarkable changes, so much so that today many scholars from different analytical perspectives emphasize the idea that European politics has been recently restructured by many different changes. First, the emergence of new conflicts and dimensions of competition that are transforming the way voters and parties conceive party competition, in certain cases fostering political polarization or instead replacing the original left-right dimension. Second, the successful rise of new (and, in most cases, populist) parties that challenge the status quo of mainstream politics and, in some occurrences, even the traditional conception of representative democracy based on the party government model. Third, we have also been witnessing a fundamental breakdown in the long-term stability of the relationship among voters, social groups, and political parties. The latter has brought about the decline of traditional cleavages (and, more generally, of long-term determinants of voting behavior) and the increase in electoral volatility as its most visible consequences.
The panel seeks to foster a reflection on the consequences of such processes on the dynamics of party competition and the transformation of European party systems. Therefore, the panel welcomes original contributions focusing on the following (non-exclusive) list of topics:
- The weakening and demise of traditional cleavages
- The emergence of new conflicts and its consequences for the dynamics of party competition
- The transformation of party systems
- The patterns of electoral volatility and voter-party alignments
- The rise of new parties
- The increase in political polarization

The panel encourages proposals addressing the abovementioned topics from a variety of scientific perspectives and employing different methodological tools, ranging from qualitative case studies or small-N analyses to large-N studies dealing with aggregate or individual-level quantitative data.

Chairs: Vincenzo Emanuele

Discussants: Bruno Marino

Electoral competition, public issue salience and far-right success in Western and Eastern Europe
Sofia Vasilopoulou, Roi Zur
Abstract
This paper is concerned with the electoral implications of the politics of inequality, and citizens’ redistributive preferences, across Western and Eastern European democracies. Recent studies have shown that far-right parties’ success in Western Europe is associated with the high public salience of European integration. In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, redistributive preferences are associated with support for far-right parties. Yet, little is known about the electoral implications of changes in public issue salience in Eastern versus Western Europe when multiple issues are juxtaposed simultaneously, including the overarching left-right dimension and three specific issue dimensions, economic redistribution, immigration, and EU integration. Utilizing similar survey questions from the Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES) about parties’ positions and the European Election Studies (EES) about voters’ policy preferences, we estimate multidimensional voting models across all party families. Based on the distribution of voters’ preferences in the multidimensional space, we argue theoretically and demonstrate empirically that (1) in Eastern Europe far-right parties gain votes when the salience of economic redistribution is high and the salience of EU integration is low, (2) in Western Europe far-right parties can gain votes when the salience of economic redistribution is low and the salience of EU integration and immigration are high. Our findings have important implications for the study of the politics of inequality and electoral competition, accounting for its spatial variation across European democracies.
Euroscepticism in context. Perceptions of communal loss and parties’ electoral fortunes in the European elections
Francesco Visconti
Abstract
The role of geographies of discontent has been increasingly scrutinized with reference to political behaviour. This paper focuses on the political consequences of subjective perceptions of discontent, that is perceptions of public service deprivation and increased unemployment in the area where citizens live. It tests whether these factors translate into support for Eurosceptic parties across the European Union (EU) on both the left and right sides of the ideological spectrum. It is argued that perceptions of loss of material resources, the feeling of being left behind, and failing to receive a fair share of public resources may foster feelings of resentment. On one side, this resentment could translate into support for (radical-)left parties that campaign in favour of more social spending and a greater role played by the state in the economy. On the other side, it may fuel worries about immigration and competition with immigrants over scarce resources, thereby increasing the appeal of far-right parties. Furthermore, it is argued that these perceptions have a more prominent effect on Eurosceptic voting in Southern Europe, where member states were severely impacted by the economic crisis, have less developed welfare systems, and experienced strong European interference in their economic policy. This argument is tested by drawing on original public opinion survey data collected by the REScEU project after the last European Parliament elections in 10 EU countries: Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Poland, The Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. These countries were chosen to maximize political, economic, and cultural differences within the EU, as well as exposure to the different crises experienced.
Parties’ fluctuation on the transitional divide: Structural change or Strategic Competition? Evidence from Euromanifestos (1979-2019).
Giuseppe Carteny, Leonardo Puleo
Abstract
Contemporary scholarship registered the surge of a transnational conflict eroding the relevance of the old cleavages. The labels attached to this divide are variegated, reflecting differences in the conceptualisation of this conflict and its theoretical underpinnings. Here, we define the transnational divide as a conflict combining i) cultural (mobility across European borders, relevance of traditional values in contemporary society), ii) institutional (degree of European Integration) and iii) economic (e.g. protectionism vs. liberalization) issues. Preliminary analyses of the political supply of the transnational divide, suggest that that traditional party families have increasingly become more demarcationist on the cultural dimension, both in terms of salience and positioning. Cleavage-based narratives have tended to explain this transformation by focusing on the long-term transformation of the socio-economic structure. Yet, another strand of the literature has provided important evidence about the impact of the competitive dynamics among political parties, and precisely about the capacity of challenger parties’ success to influence the position of their competitors on issues they own. By relying on a longitudinal dataset (1979-2019), and on a new measurement tailored to gauge parties’ preferences and salience on the transnational divide, we aim to contribute to this debate by testing rival hypotheses concerning the structural and strategic nature of this shift towards cultural demarcationist positions exhibited by mainstream parties over the last decades.
Whom do you serve? A comparative analysis of ideological congruence between voters, economic elites, and representatives in Southern European political systems (2007 - 2016)
Michele Scotto Di Vettimo, Paolo Marzi
Abstract
Ideological congruence between voters and elected politicians has been an asset of representative democracy (Schmitt & Thomassen 1999). Yet, in the last decades, changes in attitudes and salience towards both existing and emerging topics within the political spheres in Europe, deeply impacted the alignment between voters and representatives on a whole plethora of issues. In this sense, the existing literature on unequal representation shows how representatives’ preferences could in fact be regarded as closer to the preferences of specific social groups rather than the parties’ median supporter or to the electorate at-large (Rohrschneider 2015). Unequal representation does constitute a major issue for contemporary democracies, as it hinders the principle of political equality and hampers the representation of the median voter in favour of specific and/or privileged societal groups. Whilst the role of socio-economic status has been explored mostly in the United States (Achen & Bartels 2016), in Europe the research largely opted to focus on specific differences in either electoral behaviour or geographical location (Rohrschneider 2015), with a few exceptions along the socio-economic dimension (Donnelly & Lefkofridi 2014). Given these premises, we aim to contribute to the literature on unequal representation by exploring the ideological congruence between representatives, voters and economic elites in a group of Southern European countries across different time periods. By emphasising the importance of economic factors within the political sphere of different national political systems, we intend to confirm or refute the notion that elected officials at the (supra)national level are closer to economic elites when compared to the public, and how these trends changed over time. The existing literature has so far provided only mixed evidence on both the aforementioned topic and the effective existence of this misalignment. Indeed, while several scholars have proven the enduring presence of a gap between a pro-EU elite and a significantly more sceptical public (Thomassen and Schmitt 1999), others managed to provide either partially or completely conflicting evidence with respect to the above assumption (Pareschi et al. 2022). Furthermore, though the crisis has been characterised as a critical juncture concerning the attitudes towards European integration of many national elites (Conti et al. 2018), the role that it played with regard to the relationship between representatives, voters and economic elites has yet to be properly charted. Indeed, although the crisis did not affect the congruence between voters and representatives on EU integration, literature has not addressed the attitudes of economic elites yet. Therefore, we intend to explore this strand of the topic by exploring this triangular relationship on a number of policy issues and assessing how it varies over time and across countries. Our approach introduces a few novelties, as it explicitly addresses the issue of economic elites, adopts a properly comparative perspective, analyses both national and supranational representatives, and covers five different points in time. In terms of research hypotheses, we are interested in the differences in ideological congruence between representatives and voters, on the one side, and representatives and economic elites, on the other. We posit that economic elites experience a higher congruence than voters when it comes to the level of closeness to elected officials. By comparing the pre- and post-crisis years, we are also able to track the evolution of these trends over time. Moreover, we hypothesise that different parties (e.g., challenger vs. government parties, populist vs. non-populist parties) exhibit different trends in ideological congruence before and after the crisis, with some political formations progressively reducing their gap with the public and/or the economic elite and vice versa. To test our hypotheses, we rely on data from three mass-elite survey projects (IntUne, ENEc, and EUENGAGE) covering various European countries in five different time periods (2007, 2009, 2014, 2016, and 2017). We set our focus on the Southern European countries that are consistently included in the selected surveys – Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain – so as to focus on the part of the Eurozone that was most hit by the crisis. The surveys include questions concerning different political issues that allows us to assess the overall mass-elite congruence on topics like EU integration, economic policy, migration policy, and so on. As recent studies of congruence indicate that findings are very sensitive to the methodology employed for the purposes of the research (Pareschi et al. 2022), we aim to employ different established measures to capture ideological congruence to ensure the robustness of our results. Finally, we intend to analyse congruence by also relying on an innovative measure – Earth Mover’s Distance – that has been deemed as beneficial in addressing some of the criticisms that have been moved to existing methodologies (Lupu et al. 2017). Our findings shed light on the closeness of political and economic elites when compared to voters, and the role that the crisis played in widening the gap between voters and representatives’ preferences. Additionally, our analysis informs us about variations in ideological congruence between populist and non-populist parties, with the former performing better in terms of mass-elite congruence and the latter in terms of political-economic-elite congruence. Finally, we explore how the levels of ideological congruence between political and economic elites are influenced by the presence of given parties in government.
 

Panel 8.11 Party competition and the restructuring of European party systems between old and new conflicts (II)


Over the last years, as a result of multiples crises (the Great Recession, the Euro crisis, the migration crisis, and so forth), party systems in Europe have undergone remarkable changes, so much so that today many scholars from different analytical perspectives emphasize the idea that European politics has been recently restructured by many different changes. First, the emergence of new conflicts and dimensions of competition that are transforming the way voters and parties conceive party competition, in certain cases fostering political polarization or instead replacing the original left-right dimension. Second, the successful rise of new (and, in most cases, populist) parties that challenge the status quo of mainstream politics and, in some occurrences, even the traditional conception of representative democracy based on the party government model. Third, we have also been witnessing a fundamental breakdown in the long-term stability of the relationship among voters, social groups, and political parties. The latter has brought about the decline of traditional cleavages (and, more generally, of long-term determinants of voting behavior) and the increase in electoral volatility as its most visible consequences.
The panel seeks to foster a reflection on the consequences of such processes on the dynamics of party competition and the transformation of European party systems. Therefore, the panel welcomes original contributions focusing on the following (non-exclusive) list of topics:
- The weakening and demise of traditional cleavages
- The emergence of new conflicts and its consequences for the dynamics of party competition
- The transformation of party systems
- The patterns of electoral volatility and voter-party alignments
- The rise of new parties
- The increase in political polarization

The panel encourages proposals addressing the abovementioned topics from a variety of scientific perspectives and employing different methodological tools, ranging from qualitative case studies or small-N analyses to large-N studies dealing with aggregate or individual-level quantitative data.

Chairs: Bruno Marino

Discussants: Vincenzo Emanuele

Party System Types and Party Non-systems in Western Europe
Alessandro Chiaramonte, Vincenzo Emanuele, Marco Improta
Abstract
ABSTRACT (up to 250 words): As a result of the multiple crises that have affected them over the past fifteen years, the party systems of Western European countries have in many cases undergone major changes, to the point of affecting their very essence, that is, the pattern of interaction between the parties that comprise it and the stability of that pattern over time. The question we ask here, then, is how much have they really changed? To answer this question fully, we first (re)defined theoretically the types of party systems, based on the number and party composition of poles, that is, of party aggregations identifiable by voters as governing alternatives. We then conducted a long-term analysis (1945-2023) of Western European party systems (20 countries), classifying them according to the types previously identified. Finally, we assessed their fluidity, that is, their propensity to change from one type to another, and their degree of systemness, that is, their ability to establish a dynamic of inter-party competition that is not merely extemporaneous. The results we have obtained from this analysis confirm that, especially over the past fifteen years, Western European party systems are subject to increased fluidity and, not infrequently, have become non-systems, having lost the property of subsuming a certain type of relatively stable and predictable interaction between its component parties. As other researches have shown, these kinds of changes may be expected to affect in the long run the very functioning and quality of democracy in this area.
The EU conflict and patterns of EU issue voting, between a rally of the pro-European voter and a Eurosceptic backdraft.
Nicolò Conti, Carrieri Luca, Matthew Loveless
Abstract
In the last decade, many EU member states have experienced rumblings from populist parties, separatist movements, and soft authoritarians. Together and separately, these serve as potential challengers to the legitimacy of the EU in the form of anti-EU sentiment and voting. Yet, pro-EU voting has not been side-lined entirely. Using a combination of data from EES and CHES, we examine the positional distance between voters and parties on the EU, as well as party EU salience in mass appeals, in the European Parliament elections. It appears that the pattern of EU issue voting suggests that voters are significantly mobilized on the EU. In particular, we find evidence that, recently, voters have especially rewarded parties with a more polarised stance on the EU and, contrary to Eurosceptic party mobilization, those parties with a more pronounced pro-EU stance. That is, the more entrepreneurial a Europhile party becomes, the more likely that citizens will vote for that party given their positional closeness on the EU issue. Ultimately, even controlling for other conflicts, there are robust over-time and within each party system findings that suggest the emergence of a EU conflict with serious consequences for the dynamics of party competition in the European countries.
The return of post-materialism. Exogenous constraints, electoral conflicts and voting preferences in Europe
Luca Carrieri, Silvia Bolgherini
Abstract
Contemporary politics in Europe has shown several novelties with respect to the previous decades. De-alignment of party systems, the rise of right-wing populism, and the steady decline of voter turnout are among the main phenomena witnessing these moving grounds. The political mobilization on climate issues, the differentiated reactions to the immigration crises, as well as the multifaceted attitude towards civil rights and liberties have gained momentum, potentially modifying the voting patterns of past decades. This change in attitudes and consequently in voting preferences have considerable consequences, especially in the current political, economic, and social context of multiple co-occurring crises. Are voters' priorities changed over time? Have the traditional issues, e.g., those based on the economic elements, lost their predictive capacity, while others have risen as voting determinants? In other words, to what extent have political conflict structures shifted in our societies? Have voters' preferences changed towards more post-materialistic (environment, civil rights) issues? Starting from the assumption that contemporary partisan and electoral conflict is, more often than not, circumscribed to a limited range of issues due to growing and binding external constraints (EU treaties, economic international agreements, etc.), we address the impact of “new” issues on the party support. By using European Election Studies (EES) and Chapel Hill Expert Survey (CHES), we aim at assessing the changing effects of three “new” determinants (immigration, environment, civil rights) over time (2009-2019) on the voting preferences for parties in 25 European countries. We seek to capture the partisan/positional divides on these issue dimensions by looking at the electoral patterns of the different party families in these countries. This will allow for understanding if the positional differences on these issues have explained the fluctuations in the voting preferences or not.
Conflict over EU integration and citizens’ political awareness: assessing the relationship in politicized party systems.
Danilo Di Mauro, Vincenzo Memoli
Abstract
Citizens’ awareness of politics includes a kaleidoscopic set of attitudes and behaviours describing peoples’ perceptions and acts within the public sphere. The way citizens get information and knowledge about a political subject/issue has been linked to structural characteristics (such as education or social status) and contextual elements. As the information within the political space changes, also citizens’ awareness is supposed to change in both the magnitude and the ways to deal with political matters. Despite this consideration, the relationship between political conflict and citizens’ awareness is relatively unexplored. While politicisation becomes a core subject in social sciences, the implications of a politicised environment for citizens’ awareness remain largely unknown. Do individuals’ interests, knowledge, and information about an issue change when politicisation over that issue arises? Are then awareness and politicisation related? This study aims to address these questions within the politicisation process of European integration by considering the dynamics developed in the last decade between parties and citizens. As political parties represent a crucial driver of politicisation, we analyse the relationship between EU politicisation in party systems and citizens’ different dimensions of political awareness using Chapel Hill and Eurobarometer survey data.
 

Round table

Panel 8.13 The 2022 Italian elections: one year later


A un anno da una tornata di elezioni politiche che ha permesso (per la prima volta dal 2008) la formazione relativamente rapida di una maggioranza di governo diretta espressione del risultato elettorale, la tavola rotonda mette a confronto i responsabili di diversi gruppi di ricerca che hanno dato vita a volumi interamente dedicati a queste elezioni. L'obiettivo è un confronto/discussione sull'interpretazione più "ampia" di queste elezioni, a un anno di distanza, e quindi con la possibilità di leggerne i diversi aspetti (le strategie di competizione e l'offerta politica; la campagna elettorale; gli allineamenti di voto territoriali e dei gruppi sociali; gli scenari per il sistema partitico) fuori dall'urgenza dei commenti a caldo, e con possibili scenari di interpretazione del futuro del sistema politico italiano.

Speakers:
Luigino Ceccarini - Università di Urbino Carlo Bo (LaPolis)
Lorenzo De Sio - Università LUISS Guido Carli (CISE)
Franca Roncarolo - Università di Torino (Itanes)
Salvatore Vassallo - Università di Bologna (Istituto Cattaneo)

Chairs: Silvia Bolgherini, Fulvio Venturino