Conferences & Activities

Conference - Italy in a world of uncertainty and change: getting to grips with the general election of 2018

PSA-IPSG and University of Urbino, 5-6 July 2018, Urbino (Italy)

An international conference organised by the PSA Italian Politics Specialist Group, in collaboration with the Department of Economics, Society, Politics (DESP), University of Urbino and with the support of the PSA Pushing the Boundaries Scheme
Venue: Aula 1, Scuola di Scienze politiche e sociali, University of Urbino, piazza Gherardi 4, Urbino, Italy.

The former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson once said that a week was a long time in politics. Observing the unfolding of Italian politics since 4 March 2018, one might say that a day is a long time: the period since the 4 March elections has seen endless vain attempts at government formation, and in recent days the seemingly likely outcome of these attempts has changed every twenty-four hours. By 27 May, the political crisis had given rise to an institutional crisis without precedent in the history of the Italian republic, a crisis whose outcome seemed impossible to predict but which would have fundamental implications, extending well beyond Italy, for the European Union as a whole.
What we were witnessing was the unfolding of a drama with clear echoes elsewhere in Europe, most notably the UK, Hungary and Poland: that is, arguably the most serious constitutional crisis to date precipitated by populist politicians whose claims have implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, challenged fundamental assumptions both of liberal democracy itself, and of the entire European integration project. It is difficult, therefore, to think of a more significant election in the recent history of Europe: it was one whose outcome has raised fundamental questions about the nature of party politics, about the future of the EU and about the nature of democracy itself. It was one that therefore has implications – it would be no exaggeration to say – for the nature of political developments on a world scale in the early twenty-first century.
Driven by the awareness that in order to make sense of the present, it is indispensable to understand the past, the UK Political Studies Association’s Italian Politics Specialist Group will be bringing together scholars to consider, from the point of view of voters, parties and Italy’s main political institutions and actors, what happened on 4 March and why.
Participation in the conference is free of charge – but intentions to participate must be communicated, by 27 June at the latest, to the conference organisers, Luigi Ceccarini ( and Jim Newell ( who reserve the right to limit the number of participants for reasons of space.
 Thursday 5 July
13:30               Welcome and introduction: Prof. Ilvo Diamanti (DESP, University of Urbino)

14:00 – 15:30  The context

  • The political context 2013 – 2018 James L. Newell (University of Salford, Chair IPSG)                            
  • The economic context Michele Capriati (University of Bari)                       
  • The EU and international contexts Raffaele Marchetti (LUISS Guido Carli) and Mariagiulia Amadio (LUISS Guido Carli)
Discussant: Arianna Giovannini (De Montfort University, Chair IPSG)
15:30 – 16:00  Coffee Break
16:00-17:30     The run-up to the election
  • The parties of the left and centre left Paolo Natale (Catholic University of Milan)
  • The parties of the centre right Giorgia Bulli (University of Florence)
  • The Five-star Movement Luigi Ceccarini (University of Urbino) and Fabio Bordignon (University of Urbino)                          
Discussant: Davide Vampa (Aston University, IPSG Co-Convenor)
From 18:30:    Refreshments and networking dinner
Friday 6 July
9:30-11:00       The campaign
  • Campaign issues and themes Marco Valbruzzi (University of Bologna) 
  • The campaign in the media Franca Roncarolo (University of Turin)
  • The campaign and the new technologies Cristopher Cepernich (University of Turin)
Discussant: Antonella Seddone (University of Turin, IPSG Co-convenor)
11:00 – 11:30  Coffee Break
12:00-13:30     The outcome
  • Italian voters Alessandro Chiaramonte (University of Florence)
  • The parliamentary scene following the 2018 elections Luca Verzichelli (University of Siena)
  • The formation of the new government Gianfranco Pasquino (Johns Hopkins University)             
Discussant: Laura Polverari (University of Strathclyde)
13:00               Closing and networking lunch


Call for Papers - Populist parties in established party systems - impact, relationships, and competition

68th Political Studies Association Annual International Conference, Cardiff, 26-28 March 2018 

The Greek Politics, Nordic Politics, Italian Politics, French Politics, German Politics, Irish Politics, Rhetoric and Politics, Populism, and Parliaments Specialist Groups of the PSA invite paper proposals for joint panels.
In many parts of Europe and elsewhere populist parties have made great strides at elections. Some of these parties have entered parliament for the first time and thereby pose a particular challenge to established political actors. Some are long-established, but have gained significantly in strength. Some populist parties question norms, values and institutions which have seemed firmly rooted in the political DNA of liberal democracies. Other populist parties seem to contribute to a revival of politics and participation in an age that has been labelled “post political”. Certainly, the ascent of populist parties, whether left or right, has an impact on established parties and on long-established party systems. However, populist parties may also be ‘normalised’ through competition with other parties and participation in parliaments.
This panel seeks to bring together papers which scrutinize the relationship between populist parties and established parties. We invite single case studies, comparative papers, and theoretical explorations on the following and related themes to form joint panels – this list is by no means complete:

• Policy reactions of established parties to the success of (newcomer) populist parties
• The impact of ‘arriving’ – how do populist parties change in party competition
• Populism on the level of the EU – party competition in and outside parliament
• Populism and party politics in parliaments
• Populist discourse and rhetoric in electoral competition
• Populism and the impact on party systems

Deadline for Paper Proposals: 23 October 2017

Please address all enquiries and e-mail your paper proposal (paper title, 200-word abstract, institutional affiliation and full contact details) to: Hartwig Pautz:

Applicants will be notified whether they have been included in the GPSG’s panel proposals ahead of the final PSA deadline (3 November 2017). For full details of the Conference please visit the conference website.


IPSG at the SISP Annual Conference - Urbino, 14-16 September 2017 

The Italian Politics Specialist Group organises two panels at this year's SISP Conference.

  • Comparative Perspectives on European Democracy Under Stress
Panel 9.5A, Friday 15 September, Aula D6, 11:15 - 13:00

Chair: Arianna Giovannini
Eugenio Salvati Anti-systemic or opposition parties within the EP? The case of Podemos, Syriza and the Five Star Movement
Cecilia Biancalana Reshaping Political Participation and Organisation: The Use and Perception of the Internet in the Five Star Movement
Antonella Seddone and Giuliano Bobba The age of populism? An analysis of Facebook political communication in Italy and France
Noemi Trino and Andrea Fumarola We, the (critical) people”: determinants of support for populist parties in the European Union

  • Comparative Perspectives on European Democracy Under Stress
Panel 9.6, Friday 15 September, Aula D6, 14:00 - 15:45

Chair: Arianna Giovannini
Stefano Camatarri Revisiting The Protest Voting Hypothesis: An Empirical Test at the European Level
Vincenzo Emanuele, Alessandro Chiaramonte and Sorina Soare In search of the determinants of electoral volatility in 31 European polities: differences and similarities between West and East 
Alessandro Pellegata and Fabio Franchino Assessing the micro-foundations of “Brexit”: The role of welfare chauvinism
Luca Carrieri Beyond the Left-Right Dimension? The Impact of Euro Crisis on the EU Issue Voting in Western Europe
Michelangelo Vercesi European Parliaments under Stress: The Reform Process of Bicameralism


IPSG at the PSA Annual Conference - Glasgow, 10-12 April 2017 

The Italian Politics Specialist Group organised four panels at this year's PSA Conference.

Chair: Dr Arianna Giovannini (De Montfort University)
Discussant: Dr Laura Polverari (University of Strathclyde)
Dr Daniele Albertazzi (University of Birmingham): 'No Federalism Please, We Are Leghisti!' The Lega Nord under Matteo Salvini full text
Professor James Newell (University of Salford): The Italian constitutional referendum: Yet another game of Russian roulette?
Dr Fabio Bordignon (Università di Urbino "Carlo Bo"), Dr Luigi Ceccarini (Università di Urbino "Carlo Bo"): Constitutional referendum and public opinion: What consequences for ‘Renzism’ and the Italian political system?
Dr Michelangelo Vercesi (Leuphana University Lüneburg): After the referendum: What consequences for the Italian parliamentarism?

Chair: Professor James Newell (University of Salford)
Dr Mara Morini (Università di Genova – DISPO): The presidentialisation process of the Democratic Party under Matteo Renzi’s leadership
Professor Giliberto Capano (Scuola Normale Superiore), Dr Andrea Pritoni (Scuola Normale Superiore): Strong governments deciding quickly: do we really need them? Insights from the
Alberto Sonego (Università degli Studi di Roma Tre): Renzi’s online supporters: a hidden declination of Italian populism? full text
Professor Rossana Sampugnaro (Università di Catania - DSPS), Lorenzo Viviani (Università di Pisa): Political Parties, de-differentiation and personalization of structures: Renzi and the Democratic Party
Dr Antonio Tursi: Is Renzi ‘cool’? full text

Chair: Dr Daniele Albertazzi (University of Birmingham)
Discussant: Professor Tom Scotto (University of Strathclyde)
Dr Laura Polverari (University of Strathclyde), Dr Antonella Seddone (Université Catholique de Lille), Dr Arianna Giovannini (De Montfort University): European attitudes in the (online) words of political leaders full text
Dr Craig McAngus (University of Aberdeen), Dr Simon Usherwood (University of Surrey): UK fishermen and Brexit: attitudes, consequences and the future
Benedetta Carlotti (Scuola Normale Superiore): Opposing Europe from the inside? The case of Italy: Five Star Movement, Northern League and Democratic Party in a comparative perspective

Chair: Professor Luigi Ceccarini (University of Urbino Carlo Bo), Professor Giovanni Boccia Artieri (University of Urbino Carlo Bo)
Alexandre Hobeika (CNRS, SAGE, Strasbourg), Dr Gael Villeneuve (IRISSO-LCP): A propaganda from the party’s margins? The Front National and its Facebook groups
Aakansha Natani (School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India): Resisting the state on social media: A case study of recent students’ movements in India
Dr Katharina Witterhold (University of Siegen): Consumer netizens: insights in the cultural dimension of political consumption online

At the conference dinner on Tuesday 11 April, the group received the Specialist Group of the Year Award 2017.




IPSG Annual Conference, Turin 13-14 January 2017


Call for Papers:

A conference organised by the Political Studies Association’s Italian Politics and Anti-politics Specialist Groups,with the support of the Faculdade de Ciencias Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova De Lisboa, and hosted by the University of Turin, Department of Culture, Politics and Society

13-14 January 2017 (lunch-time to lunch-time)

University of Turin, Luigi Einaudi Campus

European democracies are under pressure. The rise of alternative left and right political parties and new populist parties, discontent with traditional ‘slow’ political processes and growing preferences among citizens for internet and social media-driven movements and the increasing success of ‘antipolitics’ rhetoric have seen politicians across European liberal democracies struggle to retain their relevance in an increasingly globalised, fast-paced social and economic world. Moreover, European leaders are facing increasing difficulties to deal with a growing confluence of crises, including an unprecedented influx of refugees, discontent at harsh austerity measures imposed on EU member states, and more broadly dissatisfaction with the European integration project. This is clearly manifested in the growth of euro-sceptic parties and anti-EU feelings even in traditionally ‘Europhile’ countries, and in the recent ‘Brexit’ referendum in the UK. The dynamics and forms of these pressures are multidimensional and compound: they have different roots and have taken different paths across Europe, and yet they converge in challenging political structures and the very institution of democracy. 

The aim of this conference is to offer a distinctive approach in capturing such complexity, inviting contributions from scholars across Europe that will:
—  reflect on the causes, symptoms, effects, and long-term consequences of the so-called ‘democratic crisis’;
—  develop explicitly comparative insights into the European ‘democratic crisis’, within and between countries as well as at the transnational ‘European’ level;
—  offer an opportunity to ‘redefine’, in the light of current changes and challenges, the key concepts (e.g. anti-politics, politicisation/de-politicisation, populism, political participation, and the very idea of ‘democracy’) underpinning the debate on ‘democratic crisis’.
Against this background, we welcome contributions that address (but are not necessarily limited to) the following issues looking at how they vary across Europe, and emerging challenges and ways forward:  
  • Political parties and their adaptive reactions with a focus on populism, anti-politics and detachment from politics, personalization and changes in party’s relationship with citizens, as well as party’s organizational changes and reforms.  
  • Institutional changes in times of ‘democratic crisis’ with a focus on responsiveness, responsibility and accountability, institutional reforms, multi-level governance and centre-periphery cleavages. 
  • The EU after the crisis – with a focus on EU politicization, Euroscepticism, dynamics of interaction between EU and domestic agendas, the future of the integration process, role of external and internal pressures (e.g. economic, migration and security crises). 
  • Reshaping the idea of democracy – with a focus on new forms of political participation, digital democracy, citizens engagement, media and new media,  as well as on more theoretical aspects of the debate, looking at how key concepts/motifs underpinning this latter are being redefined in the current context.

Paper proposals (max. 300 word) should be submitted by Monday 3 October 2016 via email to Arianna Giovannini, Laura Polverari and Antonella Seddone.

We are delighted to announce that the event will open with a keynote speech by Professor Simona Piattoni (University of Trento), which will assess the theme of the conference. Scholars from the Department of Culture, Politics and Society at the University of Turin will also contribute to the event delivering an interactive workshop on ‘Democracy in Action’, which will draw on and bring insights from the work they have conducted in the city of Turin and across the region.

Professor Alfio Mastropaolo (University of Turin) will open a round-table discussion with invited international speakers entitled ‘European Democracy Under Pressure: lessons from comparative analysis’ at the end of the second day. Policy-makers, practitioners, and civil society groups as well as journalists will also be invited. 

Attendance to the conference will be free of charge but registration will be required (details on how to register will be provided in due course).


IPSG at the PSA Annual Conference - Brighton, 21-23 March 2016

The Italian Politics Specialist Group  organised several panels at this year's PSA Conference:




One Day Conference at the University of Urbino

The Italian Politcs Specialist Group held its annual conference will be held by the University of Urbino (Italy) on the 18th of December 2015.

The event, entitled "Visti Da Fuori: Politics and Society in Italy as seen from abroad", was organised in collaboration with LaPolis (Centre for Political and Social Studies), and was hosted by the Department of Economic, Society and Politics. The conference will include an introduction by Ilvo Diamanti (director of LaPolis and Professor of Political Science), a keynote speech by the former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, as well as contributions from leading international academics, political commentators, think-tanks, journal editors, and journalists.

All the members of the IPSG executive committee participated in the event, and gave presentations based on their current research, looking at issues such as the EU enlargement, decentralisation and regionalism, political parties, party systems and anti-politics. Their contributions aimed at emphasising the importance of comparative analysis in furthering public awareness of political science, and the role of area expertise in supporting this. Such endeavour reflects the groups' objective of promoting the study of Italian politics not simply from a single-country perspective, but in a wider, international context.


IPSG at PSA 2015 - Sheffield

As every year, we have organised several panels at the PSA annual conference in Sheffield.

The IPSG hosted a lecture by Prof. Cas Mudde entitled "The Study of the Far Right: Moving beyond the New Challanger Paradigm"

We also organised three panels: 


2014 European elections:
Italian politics and the European challenge 

One-day Conference hosted by the University of Strathclyde, European Policies Research Centre, School of Government and Public Policy,
with the support of the PSA’s Italian Politcs Specialist Group

14-15 January 2015 (lunch-time to lunch-time) 


In many respects, the recent European elections have provided a significant test for the European Union and for the ‘health’ of the institution of democracy in its Member States.
In the wake of the recent economic recession and the consequent austerity measures, the May 2014 elections seemed tailor-made for a protest vote. Yet, despite being described by political commentators as “the earthquake that shook EU politics”, the results of the election were not as clear-cut as might have been expected. On the one hand, there were positive signs. The long slide in voter turnout was halted (although not reversed) and pro- EU parties, whilst weakened, still managed to achieve a two-third majority in the European Parliament. On the other hand, however, there was also a distinctive shift in Europe’s fault- line from pro- to anti-EU. 

Within this context, Italy may appear as an outlier compared to the affirmation of euro- scepticism in other countries. Despite the fragmentation of the Italian political landscape – exacerbated by the 2013 electoral results – it was the Democratic Party (a mainstream, pro- EU party) that won a large majority of the vote. In this way, the PD managed to fend off both Beppe Grillo’s anti-EU and anti-establishment MoVimento 5 Stelle and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. Thus, perhaps unexpectedly, in the 2014 EP elections a large section of the Italian society returned a ‘vote of confidence’ in favour of mainstream party politics, as reflected in the results of the PD. And yet, M5S’s performance was also significant – suggesting that antipolitics feelings have not completely disappeared. 

Against this background, examining the recent EU elections, in and through the lens of one its founding members (Italy) promises interesting insights, allowing reflections on the nature of the relationship between nation-states and European institutions in a context of crisis and euro-scepticism, making it possible to shed light on the resilience and re- definition of the Italian political and party system. 

The aim of this conference is to offer a timely analysis of the May 2014 election, and the way in which the Italian political system, as well as those of other countries, and the EU institutions, have emerged from it. Whilst focusing especially on Italy, the conference will include sessions dedicated to cross-national comparisons with other EU Member States, both from the Southern periphery and from the North. 

Papers are invited which provide reflections on the effects that the May 2014 EU elections have had and are likely to have on the Italian political system and beyond, encouraging both case studies on Italy and comparative analyses. To this end, the organisers welcome paper proposals which fit within the purposes of the following thematic panels: 

In Italy, the economic crisis is welded with a fragile political situation. The general election of February 2013 returned a fragmented and destabilised political framework. The European elections therefore can be seen as an opportunity to assess the solidity of the Italian political system and the leverage of its (new) political actors, and to analyse the likely political outlook in Italy’s immediate future.
Papers submitted within this panel should analyse the results of the 2014 European Elections, focusing on their impact on the Italian political system addressing, conceivably, some of the following questions: To what extent has the Italian political system overcome the political impasse generated by the 2013 general elections? To what extent is Italy at the beginning of a ‘Third Republic’? How have traditional and new political actors performed in the EU elections and why? What type of communications strategies were used by old and new political actors in their campaigns? 

The economic crisis has dictated the agenda for the governments that have been in power in recent years and has highlighted the necessity of undertaking major institutional reforms, essential for the structural improvement of the economy. Actors outside Italy – e.g. the European Commission, ECB, OECD, IMF, the governments of other EU and non-EU Member States – have been taking an increasingly overt interest in the progress of institutional reforms in Italy and in their content, and have sought to influence the Italian reform agenda and Italy's performance relative to commitments resulting from the Fiscal Compact. However, the path of reform has not been easy, and has not managed to achieve a balance between the need for long-term constitutional and institutional reform, and providing short term support to the economic and social fabric.
Papers submitted to this panel should reflect on the institutional reforms that are being planned or introduced, the different political motivations underpinning them, the tensions that they are generating within and outside Italy, their possible unintended effects, and how the reforms may fit within the broader framework of multi-level relationships, from local government to the EU. Papers that consider all aspects of the Renzi constitutional reform bill would be particularly welcome. 

Never, as in recent years, has public debate been so animated by populist tensions. In all European countries populist movements and political parties have flourished. For these actors, the European elections have been a useful stage on which to test their public appeal. The European Union itself has been the target of anti-political and antiparty rhetoric, and the focus of a process of re-framing, linked to the accusation of having exacerbated the pressures of the economic crisis through the austerity measures imposed on Member States. 
Papers submitted within this panel should provide reflections on Euro-scepticism in a comparative perspective, in order to trace the similarities and differences between Italy and other European countries in light of the EU elections results. Papers focussing on what the European election results tell us about the resurgence of nationalism, populism and anti-EU feelings in Italy and across Europe, and the relationship between the EU and its citizens, also in terms of the perception of the added value of the EU by its citizens, are also welcome. 

The European Union is a political experiment that now involves 28 countries and is set to expand further in the coming years. However, the integration process is far from complete or uncontested, and the challenge of achieving social, cultural and economic integration and cohesion is far from being resolved. The recent economic crisis has revealed both the fragility and resilience of the European Union’s system, bringing to the surface tensions between and within the Member States, and exacerbating the North-South divide around which much of the euro-sceptic rhetoric in the 2014 European elections campaign was grafted. 
Papers submitted within this panel should discuss the political divide between wealthier and less well-off EU member states using data and comparative analyses based on the results of the recent European elections, and discuss the possible impact of such divide and the likely future scenarios, e.g. in terms of reconfiguration of the EU, of its institutions and policies, and the likely impact of this on the interrelation among EU Member States, particularly in terms of bridging the increasing fracture between North and South. 
Paper proposals (max 300 words, with a clear indication of the panel of interest) should be submitted by 3 October 2014 to Arianna Giovannini, Laura Polverari and Antonella Seddone, from any of whom further details about the conference can be obtained.
Prof Michael Keating (University of Aberdeen, director of the ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change) will deliver the opening keynote adress.
In addition, the event will be closed by a round-table discussion with invited international speakers on ‘Italy: Between Europhilia and Euro-scepticism’. Journalists from Italian and UK media will also be invited to attend. 

Attendance to the conference is free of charge but registration will be required (details on how to register will be provided in due course).


Italian Politics @ PSA 2014

The IPSG has organised a series of panels at the PSA conference held in Manchester in April.
Below are the details of the panels, and links to the papers presented within them:

1) The Politicisation of Identities in Peripheral Regions (in collaboration with the PSA's Territorial Politics Specialist Group)
Chair: Dr Laura Polverari
Convenor: Dr Arianna Giovannini

  • "Neverland: Sardinia and the Independence Project of ProgReS", Dr Arianna Giovannini (Leeds Metropolitan University) and Dr Antonella Seddone (University of Turin)
  • "From 'Socio'Economic Class' to 'Socio-Economic Region': How Regionalist Parties Link Their Ideological Position across the Centre-Periphery and Left-Right Dimensions", Dr Arjan Schakel (Maastricht University) and Dr Emanuele Massetti (Gedz Univeristy)
  • "Neo-Liberal Economic Development, Competitiveness and the growth of Mabyon Kernow in Cornish Politics", Dr Joanie Willett and John ROwe (Univeristy of Exeter)

2) Economic and Political Crisis in Italy and Greece in the Context of Europe (in collaboration with the PSA's Greek Politics Specialist Group)

Chair: Dr Arianna Giovannini

Discussant: Dr Vasilis Leontitsis


  • "Economic Crisis and Attitudes Towards the European Union: Are Italians and Greeks becoming Euro-sceptic because of the Crisis?", Dr Monica Poletti (University of Milan), Dr Eftychia Teperoglou (University of Mannheim), Dr Cristiano Vezzoni (University of Trento), Dr Ioannis Andreadis (Aristotele University of Thessaloniki)
  • "Political Crisis in Greece and Italy - A Comparative Analysis of SYRIZA and 5Star MoVement", Raffaele Borreca (University of Peloponnese)

3) The Day After Tomorrow - Italian Politics and the Long Transition
Chair: Dr Arianna Giovannini
Discussant: Dr Daniele Albertazzi


  • "Party Members and Supporters of the Italian Centre-Left", Dr Giulia Sandri (Catholic University of Lille) and Dr Antonella Seddone (University of Turin)
  • "No Berlusconi, No Party? The Entrepreneur's Place in Recent Italian History", Prof. James L. Newell (University of Salford)
  • "5Star MoVement - Beppe Grillo's Personal Party. A Case Study of Organisational Leadership", Dr Annarita Criscitello (University of Naples)


2013 Italian General Election – Italian Politics at a Crossroads?
One-day conference, 17 January 2014, University of Birmingham

Organised with the support of the Political Studies Association, the PSA’s Italian Politics Specialist Group and the Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham

Registrations are now open for the conference "2013 Italian General Election: Italian Politics at the Crossroads?" which will be held on the 17th of January at the University of Birmingham.
Attendance to the event is free of charge and refreshments will be provided.
However, places are limited and participants need to register online by Tuesday 10 December

Details of the conference, including the programme for the day and the online registration form, can be found at this link.
For further information about the event, please contact: 


2013 Italian General Election – Italian politics at a crossroads?

One-day conference, 17 January 2014, University of Birmingham

The abstracts review process has now been completed. 
The full programme of the conference will be published soon.


2013 Italian General Election – Italian politics at a crossroads?

One-day conference, 17 January 2014, University of Birmingham

Organised with the support of the Political Studies Association, the PSA’s Italian Politics Specialist Group and the Department of Modern Languages, University of Birmingham


The Italian general election of February 2013 can fairly be described as a watershed event, resulting as it did in a political stalemate. With the country more or less divided into three equal segments among which there appeared to be no viable governing combination it was not until the end of April that a government could be formed, and then it was only thanks to the fact that the election’s aftermath coincided with the need to elect a new President of the Republic. The centre-left appeared to have won the election by a wafer-thin margin – but it had no Senate majority and, most importantly, it emerged in front only by virtue of the fact that the haemorrhage in its votes was slightly smaller than the haemorrhage of votes for the centre right. Support for the populist Five-star Movement (M5s), at its first general-election outing, exploded dramatically, to make it the largest single party. As a consequence of the outcome, neither of the logics on which government formation had been based in the ‘First’ and ‘Second Republics’, the consensual and the majoritarian respectively, was any longer available. If therefore, the election seemed to mark the end of an era, the one that appeared to be being ushered in pointed in the direction of a highly uncertain future. The grand coalition that was eventually formed had as its main protagonists two parties that had hitherto found it difficult in the extreme to accord each other legitimacy as potentially governing actors while they were under pressure as never before to bring about reform of the institutions whose mal-functioning had to a significant degree been responsible for the 2013 crisis in the first place.
Against this background papers are invited which in one way or another provide reflection on the effects that such a momentous election have had and are likely to have on the Italian political system and beyond. The organisers are keen to encourage submissions focussing on a wide range of perspectives/topics, but conceivably proposals might offer to examine:
  • specific parties, their performances and prospects, the most obvious examples to mention here being the M5s, PdL, PD;
  • political campaigns – e.g. strategies (including the use of new-media) and impact;
  • the wider relatinship between media and politics;
  • the party system as a whole – bearing in mind the extent to which the events leading up to the election, and its outcome, were so closely bound up with the parties’ loss of authority thanks to disappointment of the expectations that had arisen from the political upheavals of the early 1990s and the initiation of the so-called ‘Second Republic’;
  • popular attitudes – and especially the anti-political sentiments to which the parties’ loss of authority had given rise;
  • government and policy-making, including the formation and programmes of the governments that immediately preceded and followed the election – both executives, in their different ways, representing novelties;
  • post-electoral scenarios and current developments (inlcuding the most recent government crisis); 
  • reflections on what many claim to be 'the end of the Second Republic', and future perspectives;
  • the personalisation of politics and its long-term impacts on the italian political system;
  • the role of Italy’s place in Europe (and beyond) – both from the perspective of its significance as a campaign issue and a factor in the election run-up, from the perspective of the implications for it of the election outcome, and under the Letta government
Paper proposals (max 300 words) should be submitted by 18 October to Jim Newell (, Arianna Giovannini ( and Daniele Albertazzi ( from either of whom further details about the conference can be obtained. Abstracts and papers must be submitted in English but, due to the specialist focus of the conference, papers can be presented either in English or Italian.

Attendance to the conference is free of charge but registration will be required (details on how to register will be provided in due course).

The event is supported by the Italian Politics Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association (PSA), the Department of Modern Languages of the University of Birmingham and the Political Studies Association (special activities fund).

Journalists from the Italian, the UK and international media will be invited to attend, together with prestigious keynote speakers.


PSA 2014—‘Rebels and Radicals’
Manchester, 14-16 April 2014

Panel Title:     ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ – Italian politics and the long transition

Convenors and Chair: Arianna Giovannini, Leeds Metropolitan University (; Antonella Seddone, University of Turin, Italy (
Discussant:                Daniele Albertazzi, University of Birmingham


The Italian general election of February 2013 can be described as a watershed event. Its results have been not only unexpected and indecisive – they have also put into question the very key values (and meaning) of the Italian political system.
As many commentators have argued, the startling outcome of these elections has provided ‘a shock to the system’ of Italian politics, especially for what concerns the ‘majoritarian bi-polarism’ which was achieved through a long and thorny process during the so-called Second Republic. And yet, whilst the precepts of the Second Republic may have started to crumble after February 2013, so far there has been no sign either of a clear break with the past, or of an emerging Third Republic. Instead, Italy seems to be muddling through a ‘long phase of transition’ – without a clear path and/or objective.
The aim of this panel is to develop a timely reflection on the Italian political system at this critical conjuncture, focussing on the idea that the current phase of transition is characterised on the one hand by new developments and on the other by strong signs of ‘resistance’ towards the radical change that much of the Italian electorate seems to be asking for.
Against this background, we welcome papers that will help to throw light on this momentous point in Italian politics, by exploring such issues as: 
  • New tendencies—looking in particular at: i) how traditional parties have tried to respond to the current climate, especially by redefining their organisational structures (e.g. primary elections within the PD; or the extent to which the PDL is trying/will have to develop strategies to overcome its over-personalisation, especially in light of Berlusconi’s recent trials); ii) the emergence of new movements/forms of parties (e.g. M5S) which have more fluid organisational dynamics, and use new-media as means and channels of participation/discussion 
  • The electoral law and its reform—focussing on the proposals put forward by the main political actors within the current government and the long-term effects these may have 
  • Political communication and its changing forms/dynamics—looking in particular at the relationship and/or the tension between new social media (such as twitter and facebook—which, many argue, are gaining more and more prominence) and TV and newspapers (which played a crucial role during the Second Republic and still provide a key source of political information for the electorate) 
  • Institutional change—looking at the effect that the recent reform of meso-level bodies (i.e. the disbandment of Provinces and re-allocation of their powers to Regions) will have on the decentralised structures/measures previously put in place and on the power geometry inherent to these 
  • The role of Europe and the changing attitudes towards the EU—focussing on how, whilst the Second Republic started with a strong emphasis on Europe (in spite of the austerity measures imposed by the parameters of the Maastricht Treaty), twenty years later the EU seems to have lost its appeal (and to some extent its legitimacy) amongst the Italian electorate, giving rise to more controversial feelings and perceptions of the European dimension.
Paper abstracts (250 words) should be submitted via email by 17 October to Antonella Seddone and Arianna Giovannini, from either of whom further details about the panel can be obtained.

PSA 2014—‘Rebels and Radicals’ 
Manchester, 14-16 April 2014

Call for Papers

The Italian Politics Specialist Group (IPSG) and the Greek Politics Specialist Group (GPSG) intend to co-organise a panel at the 2014 PSA Annual Conference (Manchester 14-16 April 2014) under the theme Economic and Political crisis in Greece and Italy in the context of Europe.

In the last few years, Europe has faced its deepest crisis in decades. The crisis is predominantly economic in nature, but it has wider political and social implications. The countries of the South of Europe have been particularly hit by it and they have consequently been asked to implement tough austerity measures under mounting political and social pressure. The crisis has been discussed at length both within academia and the media. However, much less attention has been paid to the possible ways out of it and the extent to which the crisis itself might constitute a chance to ameliorate the long-standing politico-economic issues of the countries concerned. This panel aims at filling this gap.
Italy is the biggest country in both economic and population terms in the South of Europe and a key state in the European Union. Greece has been the country hit the hardest by the crisis and has faced the deepest austerity measures and reactions to them. Hence, comparing the experience of these two countries could yield some interesting insights on the ‘way forward’.
We thus welcome papers on the economic and political crisis in Greece and Italy against the background of Europe. The papers should follow a comparative approach and may discuss, but are not limited to:
  • Policy reforms in Greece and Italy
  • New political parties/forces that have emerged as a response/reaction to the crisis
  • The way in which traditional parties have reacted to or adjusted their strategies in light of the crisis
  • The role of media in the two countries in portraying the crisis and in spreading  specific perceptions of the EU and austerity measures
  • The emergence of anti-politics feelings and their impact on the institution of democracy in Italy and Greece
  • The future role and place of Italy and Greece in the EU
Proposals should include: title and name, e-mail address and affiliation of each author, and a paper title and abstract of not more than 250 words. Paper proposals should be sent by Thursday 17 October 2013 to Vasilis Leontitsis ( and Arianna Giovannini ( from either of whom further details about the panel can be obtained


Italian Politics @ PSA 2013

The IPSG has organised a series of panels at the PSA conference held in Cardiff in March 2013.
Below are the details of the panels, and links to the papers presented within them:

PANEL TITLE:  ‘The party's over? Parties, power and idiosyncrasies of the Berlusconi era and the future political landscape of Italy’

Chair: James L. Newell, (University of Salford)
Discussants:  James Newell (University of Salford) and Paul Furlong (Cardiff University)


Arianna Giovannini, Leeds Metropolitan University (; and Antonella Seddone, University of Torino (

The legacy of the Berlusconi era has profoundly changed the Italian political system. One of the most interesting aspects of this political phase concerns the future of those parties that have been the main allies of Forza Italia first and the Popolo della Libertà later. The Lega Nord, in particular, provides an interesting case because, in conjunction with Berlusconi’s fall in 2011, it had to deal with a major internal crisis and a change of leadership.

The aim of this paper is to understand how the change of leadership and the process of succession have affected a charismatic/populist party such as Lega Nord. To achieve this, firstly we will reconstruct the 'history' of the LN (so as to understand the roots of the party). Then, we will develop an analysis of the image of the LN and its leaders, focussing on their role in three key electoral campaigns—2006, 2008 (led by Bossi) and 2012 (under the new Maroni leadership). We will use the party’s newspaper, La Padania (meant as the main media through which the Lega Nord projects its image to the outside), to assess and compare: the visibility and role of the two leaders; the visibility of symbolic issues; the shifts in the party image, identity and structures.

2) ‘Berlusconi’s longevity and the stale Italian political system: where local and national politics converge’
Laura Polverari, European Policies Research Centre, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde (

Silvio Berlusconi is in many ways an anomaly in the context of Western European democracies. Yet, his 20-year dominance of the Italian political landscape cannot be explained solely by his personal characteristics (and his media and financial empires). Instead, it must be framed in the context of a stale political system that hampers renewal and thus presents fundamental challenges for representation. This paper discusses the causes for Berlusconi’s longevity, focusing particularly on the lack of alternatives and the predominance of a political class (both centre-right and centre-left, national and local) preoccupied with self-preservation rather than representation. This has in turn resulted in a political system that is incapable of renewal, as efforts in this direction are systematically stifled. The paper discusses these themes by appraising political dynamics at grass-root level, drawing parallelisms between local level and national level political dynamics. It concludes with some reflections on the legacy of the Berlusconi era and the future evolution of the Italian political landscape in the context of its evolving territorial governance.

3) ‘Berlusconi’s leadership and parties’ manoeuvres. Who is really leading the process for constitutional reforms in Italy?’
Elisabetta Cassina Wolff, University of Oslo (

The 1948 Italian Constitution has been remodelled through constitutional reforms four times – the last one under the second Berlusconi government 2001-2006.  My paper offers a historical panoramic overview of the last sixty years of Italian history focusing on the specific topic of the constitutional history, and an appraisal of the constitutional reforms’ unsuccessful history, applying as main reference for the analysis the proposal set forth by the committee of ‘wise men’ appointed by Silvio Berlusconi in 2003. The paper has two main concerns. The first is to analyse the content of Berlusconi’s constitutional reform proposals and the debate that they generated. In considering these issues, I shall focus especially on the role of political parties in the debate and on the influence exerted in the constitutional reform’s process by Berlusconi’s political allies. The second aim of the paper is to investigate the similarities with previous attempts to amend the Italian Constitution, focusing in particular on the content of reform proposals and on party behaviour. Studying the process of constitutional reforms in Italy through a comparative historical perspective will enable us not only to place the Berlusconi’s phenomenon in a wider context, but also to identify possible constant patterns in Italian politics. In both cases a careful exploration will show that the parties’ power within the Italian political system is far from being irrelevant or outdated.

PANEL TITLE:              ‘…it ain’t over till it’s over’. Political Parties and Participation in Italy

Chairs: Arianna Giovannini, Leeds Metropolitan University (;   Antonella Seddone, University of Turin, Italy (
Discussant: Luigi Ceccarini, University of Urbino, Italy (


1) Political participation within parties in comparative perspective: the cases of Italian PD and UK Labour
Giulia Sandri—Université Catholique de Lille

The paper explores forms of political mobilization within social-democratic/leftist parties in Western Europe by analyzing the changes in membership models and the relationship in participative terms between traditional political activism and democratic innovations such as primary elections. This study examines the nature of social-democratic parties via an empirical overview of their party on the ground. It draws on two questions: Do the social and political profiles of party members correspond to what one might expect from traditional mass parties? And to what extent traditional mass parties can still rely upon a highly mobilized party on the ground?
The study uses membership survey data on the Labour Party in UK and the Democratic Party in Italy. The analysis of the profile of party members, of their patterns of mobilization and their adaptation to new participatory instruments such as primaries will show that members of Labour and PD still display a strong encapsulation in their sociological world as well as higher levels of activism than in other parties. These results indicate a need to look more systematically and empirically at this neglected aspect of party organization, as it provides important information for the debate on party decline.

Stefano Rombi—University of Pavia (PhD Student)

Much of the literature on political parties agrees that they are organizations in crisis.
As many would claim, with reference to the famous typology of Katz and Mair (1994), the crisis concerns in particular the party on the ground – that is the relationship between parties and voters. In addition, following Mair (2009), it could also be argued that many of today’s parties are downplaying their representative role, whilst enhancing their governing role. Drawing on these two points, this paper aims to investigate the relationship between parties and voters in an unorthodox way – in a challenge to the literature on political parties, rather than to the studies on the quality of democracy. The question that arises is: are parties, intended as the main actors within a government, able to be responsive to the demands of the voters?
Empirically, the paper seeks to link the programmatic intentions of the Italian government – which are assumed to be popular among the voters – with real policy choices, operationalised using data on government expenditure by policy category. The work focuses on the so-called Second Republic, and its analysis includes nine governments, from 1994 to 2012, except the technical ones.

Gianfranco Pomatto and Stefania Ravazzi—University of Turin, Department of Cultures, Politics and Society

Although still marginal compared with traditional forms of policy-making, public deliberation is spreading across the world at various governmental levels. One of its main aims is to respond to the crisis of the representative democracy through dialogical processes. The goal is to replace strategic bargaining among actors with reflexive interactions based on exchanges of information and arguments that induce a learning process and favour problem solving.
However the dynamics and impact of deliberation on the social system and the decision-making process remain uncertain: how much do real deliberative processes manage to adhere to the ideals of deliberative theory and which conditions are very hard to satisfy? Does the social context legitimise deliberative practices and why? When do deliberative outputs really make an impact on the decisions of the policy-makers?
To answer these questions we compared three recent Italian cases: a deliberative process on a law on the living will (Turin 2008–2009); a ‘Public debate’ on the construction of a new urban highway (Genova 2009); a ‘citizens’ jury’ on the localisation of a pyrogasifier (Tuscany 2011). We combined participatory observation (transcribing the speech acts of the dialogical sessions for a subsequent content analysis) and interviews (20–30 for each case study).

Micol Maggiolini—University of Turin, Department of Cultures, Politics and Society

Protest campaigns against large-scale public works offer an interesting angle from which to analyse both the relationship between political parties and grassroots movements and also the interaction between local branches of political parties and their central structures.
Within this frame, local parties frequently have to deal with two different dimensions, referring on the one hand to their party membership and, on the other, to their role of representation of the local communities which are directly affected by public works.
This paper considers the case of the new international high-speed railway Turin-Lyon (TAV). It focuses both on the different steps of the link between the NO-TAV  movement and the political parties, and also on the problematic relationship between the locally elected politicians (strongly opposing the TAV) and the national leaders of their party (strongly supporting the TAV).
The diachronic description of movement behaviours toward political parties shows different strategies: from claims of political representation to the use of abstention in case of lack of political offer, to the sanction through a “protest vote”, up to the creation of independent representations at the administrative level. The analysis focuses in particular on the municipal election of 2009 and the 2010 regional one.

Paolo Chiocchetti—King’s College London, Department of European and International Studies (PhD student)

The literature on the ‘crisis of political parties’ has generally focused on the decline of established mass and catch-all parties and the adoption of new organisational forms or mobilisation strategies by mainstream organisations and emerging challengers.
The implications of these developments for the parties of the radical left, however, have been so far subjected to little systematic scrutiny. In the Italian case their members have surfaced in journalistic and scholarly discussions under a few paradigmatic guises (as D’Alema’s salsicciari, as lonely pseudo-charismatic leaders, as militant alter-globalist activists and as seasoned internal factionalists), but what is the truth that lies behind these paradigmatic figures? The present paper will provide an overview of the changing character of the combined memberships of all italian radical left parties from 1991 to 2011. Did their numbers conform to the general declining trend of the larger party system? How did they react to the moves towards personalisation, professionalization, electoralisation and mediatisation of political activity? Based on a review of the available empirical data on the topic, the article will provide an accurate picture of the features and role of the memebership of the radical left parties and derive some broader lessons for party research.

PANEL TITLE: ‘The Monti Government: technocrats at the helm—accountability, performance and legacy’

Chair: Laura Polverari (University of Strathclyde)
Discussane: James Newell (University of Salford)

1) When Politics Has Got No Colour. The Popularisation of Politics in the Technocrats’ era
Marco Mazzoni ( and Antonio Ciaglia (

2) What do Italy’s technocratic governments tell us about the quality of Italian democracy and how it has evolved in the past two decades?
Mark Donovan (

3) Monti’s spending review at cross-purposes: Macroeconomic pressures for fiscal consolidation vs. local accountability tensions against pervasive corruption
Mita Marra (

4) New equilibria or return to the past? The consequences of the Monti government for executive-legislative relationships in Italy
Luca Tomini (