The Political Economy of Italian Electoral Reform
Chapter 7: Party Electoral Strategies under the New Rules
* Until the early years of this decade the Italian political arena was dominated by the Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democracy or DC). The DC controlled around 35 per cent of the Italian electorate, and coalition governments under its leadership ruled the country from the end of the Second World War. However, since the end of the 1980s a number of events have shaken the Italian political landscape. First, the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) created a desire for renewal in the left wing of the Italian political spectrum, until then almost entirely represented by the Partito Comunista Italiano (Italian Communist Party or PCI). The PCI decided to change its name (to Partito Democratico della Sinistra or PDS) and its symbol in order to face the electorate with a new look, thus divorcing itself from the failures of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. Following this decision, the ‘hard core’ of the former PCI, in strong disagreement with the PDS leadership, left the party and gave birth to the more leftist Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation Party or RC). Second, the huge corruption scandal (tangentopoli), particularly involving the government coalition, caused the collapse of its two main component parties, the DC and the Partito Socialista Italiano (Italian Socialist Party or PSI). This created a vacuum in the centre of the political spectrum. Third, the 1993 change of the electoral system from proportional representation towards plurality has been the backdrop to a race to ﬁll the vacuum at the centre of...
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