Public Choice

, Volume 180, Issue 3–4, pp 407–427 | Cite as

Intra-party politics and interest groups: missing links in explaining government effectiveness

  • Andrea CeronEmail author
  • Luigi Curini
  • Fedra Negri


The article sheds light on two missing links in the existing literature on government’s policy preferences and policy choices, namely the roles played by party factions and trade unions as political actors able to affect government’s decision-making power. The content analysis of a wide typology of documents (i.e., investiture speeches, parliamentary debates, motions discussed during parties’ and trade unions’ congresses) allows to locate cabinets, parties, party factions and trade unions on a common pro-state/pro-market scale. Using these new data sources, we perform a multivariate time-series analysis to estimate the relative impact of those political actors on social expenditure in Italy throughout its modern history (1946–2015). The results support the idea that intra-party dynamics and trade unions’ preferences do matter. Indeed, government’s ability to retrench the welfare state vanishes when the Prime Minister’s party is highly polarized internally and when trade unions are more cohesive.


Government partisanship Intra-party politics Trade unions Parliamentary speeches Social expenditure 

JEL Classification

D72 E62 H53 



The authors are grateful to Fabio Franchino and Robert Franzese for their helpful comments and suggestions. An early version of this paper has been presented at the II International Conference on Public Policy (2015) in Milan, at the VI General Conference of the European Political Science Association (2016) in Brussels and at the General Conference of the Italian Political Science Association (2016) in Milan. We thank the discussants and the participants for their comments.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 429 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Università degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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