Friday, 19 September 2014


The Italian Politics Specialist Group is organising three panels at next year's PSA Annual Conference, which will take place in Sheffield 30March-1April 2015.

Details of the panels and the respective call for papers can be found below:

(Panel organised in collaboration with the Comparative European Politics Specialist Group)

This panel aims at developing reflections on the key issues and trends concerning the populist right in Europe. Ideally, the panel can take the debate in two of our groups' previous publications in the field: 

If you are interested in submitting an abstract, please contact Dr. Daniele Albertazzi ( or Dr. Arianna Giovannini ( to discuss the topic of your paper. 
Please note that the deadline for abstract submission is Friday 3 October.


Italy is often regarded as an extreme example of the personalisation of politics, which has been apparent in all or most democratic systems and which has manifested itself in at least three ways. First, there has been a growing focus on, and significance for, election outcomes of individual candidates and their characteristics. Second, there has been a presidentialisation of party politics as processes of mediatisation, the deconstruction of traditional cleavages and therefore the alleged competitive advantages of charismatic leaders have allowed them to acquire greater autonomy from their party machines to become chiefly responsible for the substance of their campaigns and the policies they intend to implement. Third, there has been the emergence of “personal and/or personalised parties”, meaning organisations set up by individuals exclusively to further their personal political ambitions and run on a more or less patrimonial basis, of which Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, is of course the classic example. Besides, most recently, the rise of (post-modern) leaders such as Matteo Renzi (Democratic Party) and Beppe Grillo (5Star Movement) suggests that the personalisation of political leadership is now becoming the norm – with huge impacts on the power structures within the Italian political system and its parties.
While the causes of such personalisation have been extensively studied and are well known, rather less is known about its consequences for political parties or for party systems. Certainly, there have been several attempts to imitate the Berlusconi model in significant respects, but one can envisage at least two alternative scenarios: either personalisation leads to increased professionalization, centralisation and therefore cohesiveness of political parties; or else it renders them increasingly fragile as the growing independence of leaders from their parties leads their parties to feel more independent of their leaders and therefore more inclined to rebel.
Against this background, we invite papers that explore one or more of these themes focussing either on Italy or on Italy in comparative perspective. Papers may focus on individual parties or party systems. We are particularly interested in papers offering to explore the above themes for the light they throw on the “Renzi phenomenon” and how it is to be interpreted.

Paper abstracts (circa 250 words) should be e-mailed by 1 October to: Arianna Giovannini ( and Jim Newell (

(Panel organised in collaboration with the Greek Politics Specialist Group)

The consequences of the 2008 financial and economic crisis are still felt sharply by EU citizens across the continent, and have given rise to a pronounced polarisation of political, economic and social attitudes, both within and across national polities. Within this context, Italy and Greece provide clear examples of European countries whose economies have long been (and are still) struggling to emerge from stagnation. In both countries, this has hugely impacted on the stability, credibility and strength of their respective political systems. Anti-politics feelings, and a general sense of disillusionment towards ‘mainstream politics’, have spread very fast within the Italian and Greek societies, often at the benefit of radical/extremist anti-EU parties such as the 5Star Movement in Italy or the Golden Dawn in Greece.
Against this background, the March 2014 European elections were expected to provide a significant test for the ‘health’ of democracy in Italy and Greece. Many political commentators and pundits saw the election of the EU Parliament as a perfect platform for anti-establishment and protest vote – predicting the rise of euro-sceptical forces in the two countries.
In both Italy and Greece the results of the elections offered a number of surprises. In Italy, it was the Democratic Party (a mainstream, pro-EU party) that gained a large majority of the vote (40%), fending off Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (17%) and, to some extent, managing to contain the recent rise of Beppe Grillo’s anti-EU and anti-establishment 5Star Movement (20%). On the other hand, in Greece, the results of the EU elections backed the EU wide trend. The Golden Dawn elected its first MEPs, while SYRIZA, the Radical Left party, managed to win the elections. This has been the first time that such a party has won elections in Post-War Greece. In the meantime, the share of the votes of the so-called mainstream parties (ND and PASOK) continued to fall.
Hence, interestingly, despite the fact that Greece and Italy have experienced, to a certain extent, similar conditions stemming from the economic and social crisis and the austerity measures imposed on the two countries, there has been a degree of political divergence. The political system in Italy has, perhaps unexpectedly, shown signs of resilience and a certain degree of continuity, whereas the deeply traumatised Greek political system is on the verge of remarkable change. Nevertheless, beyond the first reading of the recent electoral results, one needs to note that conflicting signs have emerged from both countries with potentially unforeseen consequences.
The aim of this panel is to provide a timely discussion on the developments in the political landscape of Italy and Greece in the aftermath of the EU elections, focussing in particular on how they have impacted/affected parties and party systems; policies and reforms; the relationship between the two national governments and the EU institutions; and, more in general, the state of democracy. To this end, we invite papers that explore one or more of the aforementioned themes focussing on Italy and Greece in comparative perspective.

Your paper proposal (paper title, 250-word abstract, institutional affiliation and full contact details) should be e-mailed by 6 October to: Dr Vasilis Leontitsis ( and Dr Arianna Giovannini (

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