The limits of radical parties in coalition foreign policy : Italy, hijacking, and the extremity hypothesis
Title: The limits of radical parties in coalition foreign policy : Italy, hijacking, and the extremity hypothesis
Citation: Foreign policy analysis, 2016, OnlineFirst
ISSN: 1743-8586; 1743-8594
Scholars increasingly suggest that coalition governments produce more extreme foreign policies than single-party governments. Extremity is especially likely when governments include radical parties that take extreme positions on foreign policy issues and are “critical” to the government’s survival, as the radical parties push the centrist ones toward the extremes. A look at Italy’s Second Republic provides an important counterpoint to the extremity hypothesis. In three high-profile cases of military operations—Albania 1997, Kosovo 1999, and Afghanistan 2006–08—Italy had a center-left government that depended on radical parties for its survival. In all cases, the radical parties opposed military operations but did not prevent the government from acting by forcing the government’s fall. Our article seeks to explain the limits of leftist radical parties in Italy’s Second Republic. We argue first that radical parties are reluctant to threaten or force government collapse as this can lead to an opposition coalition coming to office and voters’ being blamed for the outcome. Second, we claim that foreign policy has been less important to radical parties than domestic issues. Finally, we argue that radical parties have appealed to their voters through theatrical politics and have affected the implementation of military operations.
First published online: 15 April 2016
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