Rules, Choice and Strategy

Rules, Choice and Strategy

The Political Economy of Italian Electoral Reform

The Locke Institute series

Ram Mudambi, Pietro Maria Navarra and Giuseppe Sobbrio

This topical book analyses the change of electoral rules in Italy from proportional representation toward plurality. While Italy is used as the illustrative case, the analysis has far-ranging theoretical and practical implications, and will therefore be of interest to academics and researchers of political economy, constitutionalism and public choice.


Charles K. Rowley

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, public choice


The economic analysis of politics rarely satisfies the ideal scientific conditions provided by a controlled experimental laboratory. Scholars who are interested in observing the political consequences of different voting rules, for example, typically must settle for comparing different political communities, even perhaps different countries, with all the problems of standardizing ceteris paribus conditions that such uncontrolled experiments imply. For the most part, the intractable nature of such problems has encouraged scholars to focus on simpler, if also less fruitful, research, for example, by relying on theory alone to shed insights on the issue or by evaluating the political consequences of one specific voting rule. This fascinating book is a major exception to such a general rule. The authors focus attention on the postwar Italian electoral system, and utilize the significant electoral reforms of the early 1990’s as a fulcrum for comparing the political implications for Italy of two alternative voting rules – proportional representation and mixed proportional representation and plurality – at the national, municipal and provincial levels. From 1946, when democracy was restored in Italy following the collapse of Fascism until 1990, when Italy began its electoral transition from the First to the Second Republic, Italy adopted the voting rule of proportional representation with party lists and the method of the largest remainder. This voting rule was changed to introduce a mixed system of proportional representation and plurality in 1993/4 following the collapse of the First Republic. By comparing the political process in Italy...