Keywords: Political communication, electoral campaign, television, voting behaviour, media effects.
The article draws an assessment of the impact of communication and electoral campaigns during the four election that followed the entry of Berlusconi in the political arena. The article explores three questions. First, the characteristics of communicative and televisive supply. Second, the specific features of the 2006 electoral campaign. Third, the media consumption by voters and its "effects" on their attitudes and electoral behaviour. The first section discusses the debate on mass media influence on politics before and after the electoral transition at the beginning of the Nineties and presents some data on pluralism on television. The second section discusses the characteristics of the 2006 campaign: its development, the strategies by Berlusconi and Prodi and the role of survey predictions. The third section deals with media consumption and its "effects". The strength of the relationship between TV preferences and voting in Italy can be explained partly as "media influence" and partly (for the most part) as "political encapsulation" of media preferences. The conclusive remarks assess the relationship between a very stable inter-coalitional electoral market and the high aggressiveness of Italian electoral campaigns and offers some indications for future research.