Emanuele Rossi, Luca Gori

Primary elections in Italy: from practice to rule

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Political Parties, Primary Elections, Participation, Candidates Selection, Democracy within Parties

Primary elections were first used in Italy to select candidates at local and regional level. However, it should be noted that with the exception of the law on primary elections approved by the Tuscan Regional Assembly, primary elections have always been organized by political parties or coalitions of parties. In practice, numerous problems have arisen: first of all, the type of elections primaries have been used for; second, the issue of mandatory primaries and the alternative between primary elections organized and regulated by law and primary elections autonomously organized by political parties and coalitions. Furthermore, one has to consider a series of particularly sensitive issues: in particular the protection of the privacy of those taking part in primaries and the secrecy of the vote they express; opening primaries to electors that are not members of the political party and the conditions for their admission; payment of a participation fee and signing of political documents (as conditions for taking part in primary elections). In Italy, all these issues are strictly related to a particularly weak political system from a structural standpoint, i.e. political parties that have great difficulty in acting as a mediator between the electorate and public institutions. Bearing all this in mind, primary elections appear to have been the only response to this crisis; however there has been a lack of debate on the true role of political parties in the context of art. 49 of the Italian Constitution and the consequences that primary elections have on their structure.

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