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Dealing in Discipline: Party Switching and Legislative Voting in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, 1988–2000

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Compared to U.S. political parties, parties in Italy (and Europe generally) are quite cohesive. Rarely do members of parliament vote against their copartisans in legislative divisions. Yet in Italy in recent years, legislators switch parties with seeming abandon. Between 1996 and spring 2000, one out of four deputies in the Chamber of Deputies switched parties at least once, compared to only 20 switches in the U.S. Congress from 1947 to 1997 ( Nokken 2000). We examine the relationship between switching and observed party unity in Italy by focusing on individual legislators' switching decisions and voting behavior. Overall, switchers move out of highly disciplined parties, suggesting that they switch partly in order to escape strong discipline.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Binghamton University 2: University of Virginia

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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