The Dynamics of Policy Innovation and Paradigmatic Change
Edited by Hideko Magara
Chapter 14: Policy choices and socioeconomic divides: long-term changes in Italy's democratic quality
The general elections held in February 2013 marked an earthquake in Italian politics. The two coalitions on the center-left and center-right that had governed Italy alternately between 1996 and 2011 together lost 11 million votes compared to the 2008 elections (whereas despite lower voter turnout, the total number of voters increased from 34 million in 2008 to above 35 million in 2013). Berlusconi's People of Freedom party lost 6.3 million votes, and its ally, the Northern League, 1.6 million votes. The Democratic Party lost 3.4 million votes. Mario Monti, who was heading a non-partisan government supported by a large majority in Parliament since November 2011, decided to enter the electoral arena himself and collected 2.8 million votes. In 2008, the Union of the Center party, on whose organizational structure he relied for his electoral campaign, had obtained 2 million votes. The protest party 5-Star Movement, led by a former stand-up comedian who did not himself run for election, Beppe Grillo, received 8.7 million votes for its debut into the national electoral arena: similar to the Democratic Party and roughly one and a half million more than Berlusconi's party. The explanations advanced for this electoral outcome generally have to do with two connected factors: citizens' disgust with political corruption and privileges of the politicians in general and the distress many households are suffering as a consequence of the most severe economic crisis experienced by Italy in recent history.
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