Chapter

Italy: A Case of Fragmented Bipolarism

Roberto D'Alimonte

in The Politics of Electoral Systems

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780199257560
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603280 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199257566.003.0012
Italy: A Case of Fragmented Bipolarism

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Given that Italy has had one of the few perfectly bicameral parliamentary systems (in which each house has equal powers), there are two different electoral systems to analyse. These electoral systems are relatively new (dating only to 1993) and are very complex, reflecting compromises between parties with different interests. Lijphart’s prescription that an electoral system should emphasize ‘proportionality and simplicity’ is certainly violated. Italy has changed from list PR (before 1993) to variations of mixed-member majoritarian systems. Both the Chamber and the Senate are composed of 75 per cent of members elected from SMDs, and 25 per cent from lists. Beyond this, the electoral systems vary in a range of important ways. One of the important effects is the ‘proportionalisation of the plurality tier’. Italy is a leading example of the manner in which major electoral reform can have some expected and some very unexpected consequences. There is widespread discontent with the ‘new’ systems, such that electoral reform is very much on the agenda.

Keywords: mixed-member majoritarian; negative vote transfers; fake lists; empty lists; short lists; two-coalition system; proportionalisation; plurality tier

Chapter.  11762 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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