How to Lose A Majority: the Competition in Single-Member Districts
Title: How to Lose A Majority: the Competition in Single-Member Districts
Citation: European Journal of Political Research, 1998, 34, 1, 63-103
Few observers expected that the 1966 elections in Italy would yield a clear-cut outcome. Even fewer people expected that, after the disastrous results of the previous elections, the centre-left coalition would be able to gain a majority of seats in both branches of Parliament. Yet this is precisely what happened on 21 April 1996. This article tries to explain the comeback of the 1994 losers by focusing on three factors which have changed the electoral balance between the two major coalitions in the single-member districts. The first factor was the ability of the centre-left coalition (Ulivo-RC) to broaden its range while its major rival (the Polo) lost key allies. The result has been a more competitive stand of centre-left candidates, particularly in the North. The Polo lost the support of the Lega Nord and suffered the split of the Movimento Sociale on its right. These defections, along with others, led to the loss of a considerable number of seats. Finally, the Polo also suffered from the defection of a considerable number of its voters who voted far one of the parties of the centre-right coalition in the proportional arena, but refused to vote for the Polo candidate in the single-member districts. We conclude by suggesting a number of hypotheses that could explain this split-ticket phenomenon.
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