Dynamics of Vote Choice in Italy: Who Are the Five Star Movement Voters?

Friday, July 14, 2017
WMP Yudowitz Seminar Room 1 (University of Glasgow)
Sanja Badanjak , University of Edinburgh
What is the potential of European integration as an issue to alter one’s vote choice? While the impact of this issue has been noted in some studies, there is still discussion regarding the extent to which this effect appears across countries and over time. In the case of Italy, the 2013 elections have been noted as those when "Europe hit home", contributing to the party system upheaval brought about by the Five Star Movement, which gained nearly a third of the vote, thereby disrupting the existing patterns of party competition. By examining the extent to which attitudes and changes in attitudes towards European integration played a role in the vote choice, I show that European integration has been a key part of voters' concerns for a longer period of time. I demonstrate this using the Italian National Election Studies panel data for the 2001-2006 and 2010-2013 periods. More specifically, I show that the M5S voters display a very stable profile of left-wing orientation and eurosceptic views, a profile of voters that appears to have been abandoned by the Italian parties of the left. The M5S, I argue, is thus a new phenomenon building on the existing cleavages and gaining votes as a result of the political parties’ inability and unwillingness to engage with their voters, recognize their cues and demonstrate leadership.