Informations and abstract
Keywords: alternation; government change; conceptual stretching; party systems; operational definition.
«Throwing the rascals out» (without bloodshed) is considered by many scholars as a fundamental component of representative democracies and, precisely for this reason, this is a topic that political scientists should start to consider more frequently and carefully. Alternation, rotation in office, turnover are concepts too often (mis)used and confused, though not properly analyzed. This is a particularly striking situation if we consider that government alternation has become, in the last twenty years or so, the most frequent method of government change across West European party systems. Following the established tradition of Giovanni Sartori, this article carries out the analysis of the concept of «alternation» in three distinct steps: anatomy, reconstruction and definition. The last section of the article provides an array of potential and useful indicators of the concept which can be used to illuminate future empirical studies on the antecedents, the consequences and also the precise meaning of government alternation.