Sunday, 23 September 2018


The next PSA Conference will take place in Nottingham on 15-17 April 2019. The PSA Italian Politics Specialist Group will run at least three conference panels. Please find below our calls for papers. 

Panel 1. Populist Parties in Government: Suffering, Surviving or Thriving?

What happens to populist parties once they get into power? This is not a trivial question. Literature has addressed this subject in the past. For instance, the volume by Albertazzi and McDonnell (2015) is an important contribution in the field. Their research shows that populist parties can survive when in government. In fact, they can even thrive, consolidating or further expanding their success. However, other scholars (i.e. Heinisch, 2010) underlined that, once in government, populist parties are forced to confront the harsh reality. The expectations they raised may turn out to be a double-edged sword. One may therefore argue that populist parties, because of the nature of their claims and their communication style, tend to be more politically and electorally successful when in opposition. After the recent general elections in Italy, two populist parties, the League and the 5 Start Movement, formed a coalition government. Of course, this is not the first populist government in Italy. Berlusconi’s party and the Northern League ruled together in the 1990s and 2000s. Yet until the late 2000s, governmental populism was mainly regarded as an anomaly, a temporary deviation from political normality. Over the last years, however, right-wing and left-wing populist parties have entered (or backed) governments in an increasing number of European countries. This panel aims to contribute to the renewed debate on populist parties and their relationship with power and governmental responsibility. We encourage submission of papers that tackle this topic from different perspectives, such as: policy agendas, institutional and political communication, party organisation and leadership, intra-coalition conflicts etc.

Panel 2. The Red Sunset: Challenges to Social Democracy in an Age of Political Turmoil

In recent years a great amount of research has focused on the rise of new political actors in a context of increasing uncertainty. Considerably less attention has been paid to how mainstream centre-left parties across Europe (and beyond) have reacted (and adapted) to changing political and socio-economic circumstances. Whereas the 1980s and 1990s were seen as a phase of transition, transformation and renewal of social democracy, the current decade has been marked by the dramatic – perhaps irreversible – decline in the fortunes of one of the oldest and most resilient political families in the European democratic tradition. The aim of this panel is to shed light not only on the circumstances that have contributed to the crisis of social-democratic parties over the last ten years but also on the impact that such crisis has on democratic processes and public policy. We identify three key areas that can be analysed by contributors. The first area focuses on internal characteristics of social democratic parties, that is, their organisation/membership, leadership and their political programmes. The second one looks at the social and political environment in which social democratic parties compete. One may consider transformations in socio-economic conditions and voters’ attitudes and preferences (demand-side) or changing patterns of inter-party competition, with the emerge of new challengers (supply-side). Lastly the third area focuses on the implications of the social democratic crisis for Western European democracies and for relevant policy areas. Of course, the three areas identified here should not necessarily be analysed in isolation and we also welcome contributions that aim to establish links between them. 

Panel 3. New Dynamics of National and Transnational Party Competition in Europe (Joint Call for Papers of the French Politics, German Politics, Greek Politics, Italian Politics, Nordic Politics, and Parliaments Specialist Groups) 
The year 2019 will be crucial for the European Union, since radically new political equilibria could emerge in the aftermath of the elections to the European Parliament in May. Anti-establishment and populist parties are expected to win significant support, and this may have important consequences for the governance of the single market and the processes of political and economic integration. The joint panels will explore how the competition between political parties in Europe is shaping dynamics at both national and supranational levels in the year of the European Parliament elections. Are we observing a redefinition of political cleavages? Are European political parties forming new transnational alliances and coalitions? Can we identify diverging political trends in different parts of Europe (Central Eastern vs Western Europe or Northern vs Southern Europe)? What are the consequences of these changing dynamics for the effective functioning of the European Parliament, and indeed the European Union? The Greek Politics, Nordic Politics, Italian Politics, French Politics, German Politics, and Parliaments Specialist Groups of the PSA invite paper proposals for joint panels under this call. Welcome are single case studies, comparative papers, and theoretical explorations on the above and further questions.

The deadline for paper proposals is 12 October 2018. Please e-mail your paper proposal (paper title, 200-word abstract, institutional affiliation and full contact details) to Davide Vampa ( and Antonella Seddone (

You are also welcome to contact us to submit an alternative panel proposal. Please send us an abstract of the panel and, if possible, up to four paper abstracts that are linked to the panel topic (with names and affiliations of the proposed presenters and chair). Please make sure that the panel proposal reflects gender diversity. All-male submissions won't be considered. The deadline is also 12 October 2018.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018


Dear IPSG Members, 

as some of you may have seen, details of the PSA 2019 Conference (Nottingham, 15-17 April) have been released, and call for papers and panels are now open.

The IPSG will be able to propose up to four panels, and we strongly encourage all our members to participate in this process. To this end, as IPSG convenors, we have drafted two panel proposals focusing on the following themes: 1) populists in power;  2) crisis and transformation of social democracy. At this link you can find provisional panel titles and abstracts. 
Of course these are just preliminary ideas and we are open to comments and suggestions. For instance, the scope of the social democracy panel could be broadened to include all mainstream parties (not just centre-left ones) and their responses to changing political and socio-economic circumstances. 

We would like to have an overview of proposed panels and papers one month before the official submission deadline (22 October) so that we would have enough time to advertise the panels and work with other specialist groups if the number of proposals is too large or too small. 

If you are interested in participating in the next PSA conference, please contact us by 23 Septemberand let us know: 

- if you would like to submit a paper proposal that you think could be included in the two proposed panels. Please send us title and abstract of the paper (and your current affiliation). 

- if you would like to submit an alternative panel proposal (beyond the two included in the attachment). Please send us an abstract of the panel and, if possible, up to four paper abstracts that are linked to the panel topic (with names and affiliations of the proposed presenters and chair). Please make sure that the panel proposal reflects gender diversity. All-male submissions won't be considered. We will let you know if your panel can be included in the IPSG submission at least two weeks before the official submission deadline. 

- if you would like to submit a paper proposal that is not linked to the topics suggested here but fits the broader conference theme "(Un)Sustainable Politics in a Changing World". Please send us title and abstract of the paper (and your current affiliation). We will try to identify clusters of contributions with similar focus that could be transformed into panels and let you know if your paper can be included in the IPSG submission at least two weeks before the official submission deadline. 

Please note that panel and paper proposals must not exceed the 550 word limit and must be submitted in English. Clear and concise abstracts facilitate the review process.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions

All the best

IPSG co-convenors

Tuesday, 24 July 2018


Professor Jim Newell – IPSG founder and current co-Chair – was recently dismissed by the University of Salford, having worked there since 1991.

It is no exaggeration to state that Professor Newell is the most prominent UK scholar in Italian politics: in many respects, with his work he has brought this discipline to the UK. For this reason, as the Executive Committee of the Italian Politics Specialist Group of the UK’s Political Studies Association, we were deeply surprised and dismayed by this decision and are petitioning for his reinstatement.

Since the 1990s Professor Newell has organised more than 30 international conferences, events and workshops on a wide range of topics, from changing representative politics to the role of organised crime, to populism and corruption. His academic production is truly impressive: over the last 25 years he has completed 5 monographs (two are forthcoming), 11 edited volumes, 44 journal articles and 48
book chapters. In addition, he is the founding editor of Contemporary Italian Politics, has written articles for the Guardian, has appeared on BBC News, and has contributed to internationally read blogs, such as the Conversation.

The decision to dismiss Professor Newell has been justified by Salford University on the basis of arbitrarily set targets concerning the capture of research funding, and what was regarded as Newell’s insufficient contribution to the University’s desire to strengthen its links with business. Most importantly, he was dismissed in accordance with market-driven performance criteria introduced by the University, unilaterally, after his appointment as a professor, and applied retroactively. The dismissal of an internationally renowned scholar for these reasons speaks volumes about the level reached by processes of marketisation of higher education in the UK.

The duty of academics is to conduct good quality research and – importantly – teach and support their students. These are duties professor Newell has always taken very seriously throughout the years. There is no doubt that research grants can be useful to some, in some contexts; however, there are no guarantees that grant applications will be successful, especially now that all academics are constantly pressurised by their institutions to apply. Equally, not all research provides obvious and immediate ways for commercial exploitation, nor are academics trained to set up joint ventures with private corporations.

For all these reasons, we urge The University of Salford to reconsider their decision to dismiss Professor Newell, and think again about how this will impact negatively not only on him as an academic, but also on the University of Salford’s image and international reputation.

To this end, we started a petition in support of Professor Newell, asking the University of Salford’s VC to reinstate him. In a few days, the petition has been signed by over 4,000 academics (including many leading political/social scientists and not just Italian politics specialists) from all over the world. This is a clear testimony both to the reputation and respect that Professor Newell enjoys among the international academic community, and to the reckless decision made by the University of Salford. 

The petition can be signed at this, and the debate can be followed also on Twitter @PSA_IPSG.

We have no intention of giving up – not just because Professor Newell is a core member of our group, but also because if something like this can happen to an academic of his standing, then it could happen to each and every one of us. And, most importantly, this is not the kind of HE environment any of us wish to be part of.
We hope that many of you will join us, signing and sharing the petition.

IPSG Executive Committee.