Salience: Putting Decentralization on the Agenda: The Role of Political Parties

  • Linda Basile
Part of the Comparative Territorial Politics book series (COMPTPOL)


This chapter deals with the uneven path of decentralist reforms in Italy by focusing on the first component of party strategy—namely the manipulation of salience. Through an agenda-setting approach, the analysis shows that it is only when most of the actors within a political system have simultaneously emphasized decentralization that the issue will rise to the top of the party system agenda (PSA) and policy change becomes likely.

The second part of the chapter examines the importance of the dynamics of party competition in influencing the PSA. In particular, empirical data support the widely believed argument that leftist and autonomist parties have played key roles in bringing attention to decentralist reforms.


  1. Alonso, Sonia. 2012. Challenging the State: Devolution and the Battle for Partisan Credibility: A Comparison of Belgium, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Basile, Linda. 2015. A Dwarf Among Giants? Party Competition Between Ethno-Regionalist and State-Wide Parties on the Territorial Dimension: The Case of Italy (1963–2013). Party Politics 21 (6): 887–899.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. ———. 2016. Measuring Party Strategies on the Territorial Dimension: A Method Based on Content Analysis. Regional & Federal Studies 26 (1): 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumgartner, Frank R., and Bryan D. Jones. 1993. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2009. Agendas and Instability in American Politics. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Baumgartner, Frank R., Christoffer Green-Pedersen, and Bryan D. Jones. 2006. Comparative Studies of Policy Agendas. Journal of European Public Policy 13 (7): 959–974.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumgartner, Frank R., Christian Breunig, Christoffer Green-Pedersen, Bryan D. Jones, Peter B. Mortensen, Michiel Nuytemans, and Stefaan Walgrave. 2009. Punctuated Equilibrium in Comparative Perspective. American Journal of Political Science 53 (3): 603–620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borghetto, Enrico, Marcello Carammia, and Francesco Zucchini. 2014. The Impact of Party Policy Priorities on Italian Lawmaking from the First to the Second Republic, 1983–2006. In Agenda Setting, Policies, and Political Systems: A Comparative Approach, ed. Christoffer Green-Pedersen and Stefaan Walgrave, 164–182. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  9. Budge, Ian, and Richard I. Hofferbert. 1990. Mandates and Policy Outputs: U.S. Party Platforms and Federal Expenditures. The American Political Science Review 84 (1): 111–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bull, Martin, and Gianfranco Pasquino. 2007. A Long Quest in Vain: Institutional Reforms in Italy. West European Politics 30 (4): 670–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carmines, Edward G., and James A. Stimson. 1993. On the Evolution of Political Issues. In Agenda Formation, ed. William H. Riker. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  12. Casa delle Libertà. 2001. Piano di governo per un’intera legislatura. In Lehmann, Pola, Theres Matthieß, Nicolas Merz, Sven Regel, and Annika Werner. 2017. Manifesto Corpus. Version: 2017-2. Berlin: WZB Berlin Social Science Center.Google Scholar
  13. Democrazia Cristiana. 1948[1968]. Appello della Democrazia Cristiana al Paese. In Atti e documenti della DC 1943–1967, 377–378. Roma: Cinque Lune. 4 Marzo 1948.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 1963[1968]. Programma elettorale della DC per la IV Legislatura. In Atti e Documenti della DC 1943–1967, 1473–1519. Roma: Cinque Lune.Google Scholar
  15. ———. 1976. Il programma della Democrazia Cristiana. Biblioteca della Libertà Anno XIII (61/62): 85–127.Google Scholar
  16. ———. 1979. Il programma elettorale della DC. Il Popolo, May 12, 1979.Google Scholar
  17. Fabbrini, Sergio. 2009. The Transformation of Italian Democracy. Bulletin of Italian Politics 1 (1): 29–47.Google Scholar
  18. ———. 2013. Political and Institutional Constraints on Structural Reforms: Interpreting the Italian Experience. Modern Italy 18 (4): 423–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Farinelli, Arianna, and Emanuele Massetti. 2011. Eppur Non Si Muove? Prospects for Constitutional Reforms in Italy After the 2009 European and 2010 Regional Elections. Journal of Modern Italian Studies 16 (5): 685–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Forza Italia. 1994. Cinque obiettivi per quarantacinque proposte. Febbraio 1994.Google Scholar
  21. Froio, Caterina, Shaun Bevan, and Will Jennings. 2016. Party Mandates and the Politics of Attention: Party Platforms, Public Priorities and the Policy Agenda in Britain. Party Politics, January.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Green-Pedersen, Christoffer. 2007. The Conflict of Conflicts in Comparative Perspective. Euthanasia as a Political Issue in Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Comparative Politics 39 (3): 273–291.Google Scholar
  23. Green-Pedersen, Christoffer, and Jesper Krogstrup. 2008. Immigration as a Political Issue in Denmark and Sweden. European Journal of Political Research 47 (5): 610–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Green-Pedersen, Christoffer, and Peter B. Mortensen. 2010. Who Sets the Agenda and Who Responds to It in the Danish Parliament? A New Model of Issue Competition and Agenda-Setting. European Journal of Political Research 49 (2): 257–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Green-Pedersen, Christoffer, and Stefaan Walgrave. 2014. Political Agenda Setting: An Approach to Studying Political Systems. In Agenda Setting, Policies, and Political Systems: A Comparative Approach, ed. Christoffer Green-Pedersen and Stefaan Walgrave, 1–16. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Höbel, Alexander. 2004. Il Pci Di Longo E Il ’68 Studentesco. Studi Storici 45 (2): 419–459.Google Scholar
  27. Jones, Bryan D., and Frank R. Baumgartner. 2005. The Politics of Attention: How Government Prioritizes Problems. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lega Nord. 1996. In Programma elettorale. Elezioni politiche del 21 aprile ’96, A cura dell’Ufficio Legislativo Federale Lega Nord. Milano: Lega Nord.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 2008. Parlamento del Nord. Risoluzione federalismo, marzo 2, 2008.Google Scholar
  30. Lipset, Seymour Martin, and Stein Rokkan. 1967. Party Systems and Voter Alignments: Cross-National Perspectives. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  31. L’Ulivo. 1996. Tesi per la definizione della piattaforma programmatica de L’Ulivo. 6 dicembre 1995. Retrieved from Accessed 10 Apr 2018.
  32. ———. 2001. Rinnoviamo l’Italia, Insieme. Il programma dell’Ulivo per il governo 2001/2006 presentato da Francesco Rutelli. Roma: Newton & Compton Editori.Google Scholar
  33. Massetti, Emanuele, and Simon Toubeau. 2013. Sailing with Northern Winds: Party Politics and Federal Reforms in Italy. West European Politics 36 (2): 359–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mazzoleni, Martino. 2009a. The Saliency of Regionalization in Party Systems: A Comparative Analysis of Regional Decentralization in Party Manifestos. Party Politics 15 (2): 199–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. ———. 2009b. The Italian Regionalisation: A Story of Partisan Logics. Modern Italy 14 (2): 135–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McDonnell, Duncan, and Davide Vampa. 2016. The Italian Lega Nord. In Understanding Populist Party Organisation: The Radical Right in Western Europe, ed. Reinhard Heinisch and Oscar Mazzoleni, 105–129. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Meguid, Bonnie M. 2005. Competition Between Unequals: The Role of Mainstream Party Strategy in Niche Party Success. American Political Science Review 99 (3): 347–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. ———. 2008. Party Competition Between Unequals: Strategies and Electoral Fortunes in Western Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Meyer, Thomas M., and Bernhard Miller. 2015. The Niche Party Concept and Its Measurement. Party Politics 21 (2): 259–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Movimento Sociale Italiano. 1983. Il Messaggio degli Anni ’80. Il Secolo d’Italia, January 23, 1983.Google Scholar
  41. Partito Repubblicano Italiano. 1948. Il Programma del partito repubblicano per le elezioni del 18 aprile. In Lehmann, Pola, Theres Matthieß, Nicolas Merz, Sven Regel, and Annika Werner. 2017. Manifesto Corpus. Version: 2017-2. Berlin: WZB Berlin Social Science Center.Google Scholar
  42. Partito Socialista Italiano. 1953. Il PSI agli elettori. Vota alternativa socialista garanzia di progresso e di pace. Avanti!, April 26, 1953.Google Scholar
  43. ———. 1958. Per una politica di alternativa democratica. Roma: Seti.Google Scholar
  44. ———. 1976. La proposta politica del PSI. Biblioteca della Libertà Anno XIII (61/62): 299–314.Google Scholar
  45. ———.1979. Idee per un programma. Avanti!, May 27, 1979.Google Scholar
  46. Partito Comunista Italiano. 1963. Battere la DC. Rafforzare il PCI. Il Programma elettorale del PCI. L’Unità, March 3, 1963.Google Scholar
  47. ———. 1976. Partito Comunista Italiano. E’ necessaria una nuova guida politica e morale. Biblioteca della Libertà, Anno XIII, 61/62: 161–166.Google Scholar
  48. ———. 1968. E ora di cambiare, si può cambiare: appello programma del PCI. L’Unità, May 12, 1968.Google Scholar
  49. ———. 1972. Il programma dei comunisti: per un governo di svolta democratica. L’Unità (Special issue), March 26, 1972.Google Scholar
  50. Partito Democratico della Sinistra. 1992. Costruiamo una nuova Italia. PDS opposizione che costruisce. L’Unità (supplemento).Google Scholar
  51. ———. 1994. Per ricostruire un’ Italia più giusta, più unita, più moderna. Dieci grandi opzioni programmatiche. Roma: l’Unità.Google Scholar
  52. Putnam, Robert D., Robert Leonardi, and Raffaella Y. Nanetti. 1993. Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Steenbergen, Marco R., and David J. Scott. 2004. Contesting Europe? The Salience of European Integration as a Party Issue. In European Integration and Political Conflict. Themes in European Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Wagner, Markus. 2012. Defining and Measuring Niche Parties. Party Politics 18 (6): 845–864.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda Basile
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SienaSienaItaly

Personalised recommendations