Party system (de-)institutionalization and the economic crisis: Insights from the Italian case

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This article examines party system change in Italy after the emergence of the economic crisis, focusing on the radical shift experienced with the 2013 general elections. By considering several indicators such as party system fragmentation, electoral volatility, issues of competition and patterns of government, this study provides a systematic and comprehensive assessment of the main dimensions of change and continuity experienced by the Italian party system over the last decades. The article argues that the economic crisis was only partially responsible for the instability of the party system, while long-term factors of erosion were crucial to foster party system change. In particular, the crisis of party organizations contributed to the success of new actors, the regeneration of party leadership and the emergence of new patterns of government. The Italian case thus offers interesting insights on the concept of party system deinstitutionalization and on the interaction between institutional change, party strategies and electoral dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-236
Number of pages20
JournalPortuguese Journal of Social Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Electoral systems
  • Electoral volatility
  • Institutional change
  • Italy
  • Party system
  • Political parties


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