Territorial Context and Voting Behaviour in the 2006 Elections: A Multilevel Approach
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Italian electoral outcomes has often been interpreted in geographical terms. However, contextual effects on individual behaviour have seldom been taken into account. This article aims to test whether a link between individual electoral behaviour and context exists and which characteristics of the context have the greater impact on voters' choices. The individual data is drawn from the Italian National Electoral Study 2006 (Itanes 2006, N=2,369); the contextual variables refer to the municipalities where individual observations are clustered. By means of multilevel modelling, the analysis shows that the impact of the municipalities' socio-economic characteristics on individuals' voting is not significant, while the political context, measured in terms of left- or right-wing political tradition, has a much larger effect. A relevant conclusion is that the existence in 2006 of areas with a clear prevalence of centre-right or centre-left votes cannot be explained as a consequence of pre-political socio-economic contextual characteristics. The most convincing explanation focuses on the persistence of strong political traditions at the municipal level, that survived the almost complete redefinition of the political "supply" at the beginning of the 1990s.