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Regional elections in Italy (2012–15): Low turnout, tri-polar competition and Democratic Party’s (multi-level) dominance

Massetti, Emanuele (2018) Regional elections in Italy (2012–15): Low turnout, tri-polar competition and Democratic Party’s (multi-level) dominance Regional and Federal Studies, 28 (3). pp. 325-351.

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Between October 2012 and May 2015, all Italian regions went to the polls to renew their assemblies and executives. In contrast to previous election rounds, only seven out of fifteen ordinary regions held their elections in (horizontal) simultaneity. For the first time, some ordinary regions held their elections in (vertical) simultaneity with the national or European election. The election results were somehow exceptional in three ways. First, they were affected by an extremely low level of turnout vis-à-vis previous regional elections and, in line with the second-order election model, vis-a-vis the 2013 general election. Turnout was, however, comparatively higher in the special status regions governed by dominant ethno-regionalist parties (Aosta Valley and South Tyrol); and in the regions that voted in vertical simultaneity with the national and (to a lesser extent) European elections. Secondly, in contrast to previous regional elections, competition for regional executives was (at least) tri-polar, following the pattern that emerged in the 2013 general election. Thirdly, in contrast to the predictions of the second-order election model, this round of regional elections did not punish the national incumbent. Indeed, the Democratic Party won fifteen out of twenty-one regional presidencies, taking nine of them from the centre-right. Finally, it is worth stressing that the combination of low turnout and tri-polar competition, in conjunction with presidential executives and majoritarian voting systems, raises serious issues of democratic legitimacy, as most regional presidents are voted in office by between a fifth and a quarter of registered voters.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Politics
Authors :
Date : 1 February 2018
DOI : 10.1080/13597566.2018.1428568
Copyright Disclaimer : This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Regional and Federal Studies on 1 February 2018, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords : Italy, regional elections, second-order elections, territorial politics, democratic legitimacy
Additional Information : Special issue paper in Annual Review of Regional Elections
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 07 Feb 2018 12:03
Last Modified : 02 Aug 2019 02:08

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