J. van Spanje
- How do established voters react to new parties? The case of Italy, 1985-2008
- Electoral Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 31 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
The Italian party system largely collapsed in the early 1990s, providing us with a natural experimental situation in which voters were confronted with new parties - indeed, with an entirely new party system. How did they react? This paper develops a number of expectations on the basis of existing theory and tests these expectations using a dataset consisting of election studies conducted in Italy between 1985 and 2008. We find that a new party system causes confusion as to where parties stand in left-right terms, making it difficult for voters to make their choices on the basis of ideological cues. The confusion is greatest among older voters - those already set in their habits of voting, but only the very oldest cohorts (containing voters over 60 years old) are significantly debilitated.
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