The rise of so-called populist parties (PPs) in Europe over the past years has often been described as an imminent threat to the foundations of liberal democracies. Italy is no exception to this trend, having experienced highest support for PPs such as the brand new 5Star Movement (M5S) which successfully entered the political arena in 2013 and was able to form a ‘fully-fledged populist government’ following the 2018 elections. With scholars debating whether or not populism is a permanent phenomenon, in some European democracies such as Germany the extreme (Alternative for Germany) already seem to be contained. On the contrary, elections held in Italy in 2022 rather show the populist pendulum

swinging to the right as the consensus for the 5Star Movement dropped from 32% to 15% while the right-wing Brothers of Italy secured the highest vote share of any single party (from 4% in 2018 to 26% of the popular vote in 2022). This talk will examine party competition in Italy by focusing on the period 2008-2022, showing how the successful entry of the 5Star Movement in 2013 was related to the politicization of a pro-anti EU dimension. The salience of this dimension may also help explaining the strong electoral performance of Brothers of Italy in 2022. Giannetti's analysis relies on consistent expert survey data for each national election that occurred in the period 2008-2022, enabling a two-dimensional representation of the changing structure of the policy space of party competition over time. This work contributes to the growing literature dealing with emerging cleavages and polarization of party systems in Western European countries.


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766