The army of candidates: Aspiring councillors during Italy’s municipal elections

From LSE BLOG

Municipal elections were held in Italy on 3-4 October, with a further ballot being held in 65 municipalities on 17-18 October. Marino De Luca assesses what lessons can be learned from participation rates in the elections.

On 3 and 4 October 2021, votes were cast in Italy for the direct election of mayors and municipal councils. This involved 1,191 municipalities (1,153 in the 15 regions with ordinary statutes and 38 in the region with a special statute, Friuli Venezia Giulia) for 12,147,040 voters distributed over 14,505 sections.

In particular, there were elections in 19 provincial capitals, of which six were also regional capitals: Bologna, Milan, Naples, Rome, Turin and Trieste. In 65 municipalities there will be a ballot on 17 and 18 October. The ballot, in the Italian legal system, goes ahead in two cases. First, in all municipalities that are called “superiors” – with a population greater than 15,000 inhabitants (in the autonomous province of Trento, this threshold is lowered to 3,000) – if no candidate for mayor has managed to obtain 50%+1 of the valid votes in the first round; and second, in municipalities with fewer than 15,000 inhabitants (3,000 in the autonomous province of Trento), if the first round ended with a tie between two candidates.

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Methods for analysing citizens’ attitudes: a hypothetical Italian referendum about the membership of the European Union as a case study

*** A new article has just been published ***

The European Union is an unprecedented unification project that successfully preserves political peace and integrates Europe’s countries into a supra-national model. However, recent economic and political crises have shown that there are institutional problems that have undermined the EU and lost the trust of many citizens. In Italy after the ‘political earthquake’ of the 2013 national elections, the party system suffered a further shock in 2018 with the consolidation of the centre-right and Five Star Movement as the main competing political actors. In this context, the relationship with the EU has undergone numerous tensions, impacting directly on Italian public opinion and its perception of European institutions. This paper investigates whether and how the ‘exit’ issue from the EU affects Italian citizens, particularly how they react to a UK-style hypothetical referendum on leaving the EU. By analysing a 2019 voter study, it tries to identify clusters of Italian citizens by their attitude to European policies and a possible EU referendum.

Free access here or PDF here

Call for papers

Panel 9.3 Covid-19, Populism and Conspiracy Theories: Dynamics and Challenges in Europe

Focusing on the recent Covid-19 pandemic, this panel aims to explore the conspiratorial positions in the European context.
In the contemporary health crisis, fears and threats have become a fertile ground for new and old imaginaries of conspiracies. Moreover, recent studies show a strong relationship between conspiratorial beliefs and populist attitudes, above all, regarding seeing the people as victims at elites’ hands. Indeed, the rapid growth of populist political parties around Europe in the last decades has coincided with the simultaneously expanded spread of conspiracy theories, showing how populists apply them to promote their policies and support for their parties.
Conspiracy represents a rising key role in the European political background. Such increase is also because the EU itself is often observed as a technocratic conspiracy. Most essential studies have focused on the relationship between conspiracy theories and misinformation, ideologies, populism and partisanship. Other research, however, has focused on relationships with individuals, such as the self-social image, social status, income, trust in politics, and biases against further or political alienation.
Furthermore, other approaches have highlighted the direct and indirect consequences of conspiracy on institutional trust and political participation.
More generally, this can produce an extremisation process within political contexts and high political polarisation, both as state and process eroding trust in the democratic system.
In this context, Europe is described in a dystopian image and blamed for creating crises, such as refugee issues, Greek debt, Brexit or the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the last years, political disciplines have increased attention worldwide on the relationship between populism and conspiracy, developing relevant empirical perspectives. Recent studies have improved methodological approach, basing most of the contemporary research on quantitative methodologies, such as analysis of opinion surveys or big data, but finding a new exciting application in the qualitative approach, such as interviews and participant observations.
This panel explores new perspectives to improve general knowledge of populism and conspiracy into the recent health crisis. For this reason, European comparative and single-case studies anchored to solid methodological and theoretical perspectives are welcome.

Chairs: Marino De Luca, Paul Taggart

Deadline: 17 May 2021

Check the list of available panels here 

In order to submit your paper proposal:
1. you have to register to MySISP
2. once you logged in, click on “CONVEGNO 2021”: you’ll be redirected to your private area for the 2021 conference
3. click on “propose a paper”, select the panel where you want to propose the paper and fill in the form.
Please note that no paper proposal will be accepted after the deadline.

The new Draghi government and the fate of populism in Italy

Featured image credit: Presidenza della Repubblica (Public Domain)

Read on EUROPP – European Politics and Policy – LSE Blog

In 2018, Italy appeared set to embark on a new era of populist government led by the Five Star Movement and the League. Yet less than three years since the 2018 election, the country now finds itself with a technocratic Prime Minister in the shape of Mario Draghi. Marino De Luca writes on what this turn of events tells us about the fate of populism in Italian politics.

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Italian Tragedy: The Contemporary Government Crisis in Three Acts

A handout photo made available by Chigi Palace Press Office

Prologue

In this land, a word is often used in situations where a political class preserves a status quo while pretending to change it. Italians call it ‘leopardism’ after The Leopard, a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. It’s an illusion of change when everything stays the same. The result is a reinvention or rehabilitation process, like a ‘revolving door’ in the waiting room of the Italian political class.

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Who and what is their ‘people’? How British political leaders appealed to the people during the 2019 election

In recent years, many scholars, mainly those focusing on populism, have analysed the role of ‘the people’ in politics. This has allowed us to understand how many political actors emphasize the central position of this term. Today, ‘the people’ has different meanings depending on how politicians use it in specific contexts. In this paper, the reference to ‘the people’ was measured using the following question: How do political leaders use the word ‘people’? The analysis was conducted on Twitter through the study of the accounts of the foremost political leaders in the UK during the 2019 general election campaign. The results highlight three key attitudes related to the use of ‘people’: a direct and immediate relationship between a leader and a wide people; a calling to a specific people, described as a strong and cohesive group; an appropriation of the voice of the people, grouping people without borders into the classic contraposition between a pure people and the corrupt elite [Read the full article here]

Italy’s accidental prime minister? Giuseppe Conte has lasted longer in power than many expected

Article appeared in the CNBC – 24 Dec 2020

Key Points

  • In June 2018, Giuseppe Conte became Italy’s prime minister.
  • Conte was a law professor with no prior political experience.
  • He was chosen as an independent leader at the head of a coalition of the Five Star Movement and Lega party.
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attends RAI's broadcast talk Show Porta a Porta on January 08, 2019 in Rome, Italy.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attends RAI’s broadcast talk Show Porta a Porta on January 08, 2019 in Rome, Italy.Alessandra Benedetti – Corbis | Corbis News | Getty Images
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FREEDOM AND EQUALITY IN DEMOCRACY: A VALUE TRADE-OFF

Book review / FMWEB: L. Morlino, Equality, Freedom, and Democracy: Europe After the Great Recession, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2020

The intense economic decline during the late 2000s, the Great Recession, is considered the most critical downturn since the 1929 Great Depression. Thus, this significant event has become the ‘critical’ context for explaining how the world as we know it has been affected in recent years. Financial markets, banking and real estate industries, on one side, with home mortgage foreclosures, life savings and unemployment on the other. Centre stage, our democracies and their values, amongst them the two critical and most important ones: equality and freedom.

Leonardo Morlino and the research group working with him for years – Daniela Piana, Mario Quaranta, Francesco Raniolo, Cecilia Emma Sottilotta and Claudius Wagemann -, analyse both values in this impressive comparative research, focusing on France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

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CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS

Are you a UK political party member? Would you like to improve the internal democracy of your political party? Do you have any ideas to make your political party better? Are over 18 years old?

We are looking for participants in a scientific study based at the University of Sussex. The research aim is to understand the impact of the post-Brexit period on the life of your political party.

If you sign up, you will be contacted in the spring-summer of 2021 by a researcher from the University of Sussex to receive all the information necessary for participation in the project.

If you wish, we will provided,  free of charge all the analysis about your political party generated during the research and all scientific articles published on the subject.

Take part in this study and improve politics.


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The Italian style: Giuseppe Conte’s ‘half-populist’ leadership during Covid-19

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Conte-EP.jpg
Italian PM Giuseppe Conte at the European Parliament. Credit: European Parliament (CC BY 2.0)

Article appeared in the EUROPP – European Politics and Policy – LSE Blog, June 8th, 2020

From the starting position of a political outsider, Italy’s PM Giuseppe Contehas carved a widely positive image for himself, gaining widespread popularity during the Covid-19 crisis. Marino De Luca argues that Conte’s savvy use of communication channels during a time of national emergency, combined with his personality, have helped him project an image of political competence, empathy, and reassurance. 

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