Dr Ruggeri on "The Long-Term Electoral Legacies of Civil War in Young Democracies: Italy, 1946-1968"

Dr Andrea Ruggeri, Associate Professor of Quantitative Methods in International Relations, and Stefano Costalli, of the Università di Firenze, have published a research article in Comparative Political Studies (CPS) journal.

 “Without a guiding organisation the energy of the masses would dissipate like steam not enclosed in a piston-box. But nevertheless what moves things is not the piston or the box, but the steam.” —Leon Trotsky (1932)


Are there long-term legacies of civil wars on the electoral geography of post-conflict democracies? We argue that parties derived from armed bands enjoy an organizational advantage in areas where they fought and won the war. Former combatants can create a strong local party organization that serves as a crucial mobilization tool for elections. Parties have strong incentives to institutionalize this organizational advantage and retain electoral strongholds over time. We test our theory on the case of Italy (1946-1968). Our findings indicate that, on average, the communist party managed to create a stronger organization in areas where its bands fought the resistance war against Nazi-Fascist forces—and left-wing parties had a better electoral performance in those areas in subsequent elections. A stronger party organization is correlated with a positive electoral performance for many years, while the direct effect of civil war on electoral patterns decays after few years.

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    Ballot paper, Italian institutional referendum (1946)
Publishers Website
Professor Andrea Ruggeri is Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Brasenose College