Vol. 87 No. 1 (2024)

Increasingly unequal. Electoral participation and political inequalities in a context of decreasing unionization in Italy (1983-2018)

Davide Angelucci
Luiss University, Rome

Published 2024-01-01


  • Turnout,
  • Electoral Participation,
  • Tradu Unions,
  • Socio-Economic Status,
  • Political Inequalities,
  • Italy
  • ...More

How to Cite

Angelucci, D. (2024). Increasingly unequal. Electoral participation and political inequalities in a context of decreasing unionization in Italy (1983-2018). Italian Journal of Electoral Studies (IJES), 87(1). https://doi.org/10.36253/qoe-14747


Turnout has become increasingly unequal in many advanced democracies over the last few decades. Disadvantaged social groups are found to exhibit lower turnout compared to their better-off counterparts. According to numerous scholars, this growing gap is mainly attributed to the weakening of mass organizations that traditionally appealed to socio-economically disadvantaged social groups, particularly trade unions. However, very few studies have investigated these trends in Italy, a country that has witnessed a significant decrease in electoral turnout since the late 1970s, and where the socioeconomic causes of this decline have not been systematically explored. Against this backdrop, this paper aims to analyse, first and foremost, whether electoral participation in Italy is becoming increasingly unequal. Then, it moves to explore the extent to which the turnout gap between individuals with low and high socio-economic status (SES) could be moderated by both de-unionization and trade unions’ membership. By utilizing a dataset that combines 10 waves of the Italian National Election Study (1983-2018), the paper demonstrates that the turnout gap between low and high SES individuals has substantially widened over the last decades. Furthermore, it suggests that while the overall turnout gap is at least partially affected by the strength of trade unions in the country, trade unions still seem to be able to mobilize their members, particularly among lower social groups. This finding underscores the potential of trade unions to continue playing a role in equalizing turnout.


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