Coalition formation and party systems in the Italian regions

Alex Wilson

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies have focused on coalition formation in the Italian Ordinary Status (OS) regions. Studies that implicitly considered this issue have tended to highlight its nationalized features, particularly the congruence of pre-electoral coalitions and the absence of region-specific parties. Yet these studies have overlooked the intra-coalitional dynamics of regional party systems, ignored the post-electoral dimension of coalition formation, and failed to explain regional variations in the intensity of inter-coalitional party competition. This article incorporates these dimensions of analysis to argue that coalition formation in the Italian OS regions displays strong territorial features, which are directly linked to the “format” and “structures of competition” (Sartori, 1976) in regional party systems. These dual structures of regional party competition are heavily affected by the heterogeneous distribution of electoral support for state-wide parties, the presence or absence of non-state-wide parties (Northern League, Udeur), the diverse coalitional behaviour of Italian parties, and the distinctive patterns of electoral hierarchy in regional governing coalitions. The introduction of a new regional electoral system (proportional representation with majoritarian bonus) has also produced distinct coalitional incentives, leading to ‘perfect’ patterns of inter-coalitional bipolarism. Regional elections in Italy are confirmed as vital processes of national coalition testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-72
Number of pages16
JournalRegional and Federal Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2009


  • pre-electoral coalitions
  • government formation
  • Italy
  • electoral system reform
  • party competition


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