Mixed Electoral Rules, Partisan Realignment, and Party System Change in Italy

Roberto D'Alimonte

in Mixed-Member Electoral Systems

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780199257683
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600241 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 Mixed Electoral Rules, Partisan Realignment, and Party System Change in Italy

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When the new mixed‐member majoritarian (MMM) electoral system was introduced in the summer of 1993, Italian politics was characterized by a destructuring of the old party system with a dramatic weakening of the old dominant parties and the rise of new ones. In such a context, the introduction of a predominantly plurality system did not reduce party fragmentation, but it did provide powerful institutional incentives for parties to enter into pre‐election coalitions, which have permitted clearer choices for voters, although parties within the coalitions have ‘proportionalized’ the single‐seat districts by dividing up the nominations among themselves. The coalitions have restructured the pattern of competition and created the condition for a system of alternating governments, in spite of the high number of parties. In this respect, the new electoral system has worked, producing a more efficient system of interparty competition, yet it remains a difficult case to classify, precisely because the new electoral rules have produced two types of actor: coalitions (which are few) and parties (which are many), with each playing a role, and each contributing to the overall dynamics of the system. However, the main argument is that with the present electoral rules the coalitions will remain the prevailing feature of the system, whether they evolve into new parties, federations of parties or something else.

Keywords: alternating governments; coalitions; electoral reform; electoral rules; electoral systems; interparty competition; Italy; mixed‐member electoral systems; mixed‐member majoritarian systems; partisan realignment; party fragmentation; party system; political parties; proportionalization; single‐seat districts

Chapter.  12641 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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