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date: 04 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter charts the emergence and evolution of a broadly bipolar or majoritarian pattern of party competition and explains how, without any formal change to Italy’s constitutional arrangements, the changes in the party system brought about a dramatic transformation in how Italy is governed. The chapter looks at the collapse of the center and the emergence of new parties and new electoral coalitions on the center-left and the center-right. It shows the ways in which the new party system approximated the classic two-party model associated with majoritarian electoral systems and the important differences due to the continued high levels of fragmentation within the center-left and center-right electoral blocs. It also shows how the changing pattern of partisan competition affected the relations between prime ministers and their governments, and between governments and parliament. It concludes by assessing the consequences of the Eurozone crisis after 2008 for Italy’s incipient electoral bipolarity.

Keywords: majoritarian, bipolarity, electoral coalitions, fragmentation, cleavages

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