How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Davide Angelucci
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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.
- Alford, R. R. (1963). Party and society: The Anglo-American democracies. Chicago: Rand McNally.
- Almond, G. A., & Verba, S. (1963). The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Anderson, C. J., & Beramendi, P. (2012). Left Parties, Poor Voters, and Electoral Participation in Advanced Industrial Societies. Comparative Political Studies, 45(6), 714-746.
- Armingeon, K., & Schädel, L. (2015). Social Inequality in Political Participation: The Dark Sides of Individualisation. West European Politics, 38(1), 1-27.
- Bartels, L.M. (2008). Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Bartolini, S., & Mair, P. (1990 ). Identity, competition, and electoral availability: The stabilisation of European Electorates 1885-1985. Colchester: ECPR Press.
- Bellucci, P. (2001). Un declino precocemente annunciato? Il voto di classe in Italia, 1968-1996. Polis, 15(2), 203-225.
- Bennett, S. E., & Resnick, D. (1990). The Implications of Nonvoting for Democracy in the United States. American Journal of Political Science, 34(3), 771-802.
- Blais, A., & Rubenson, D. (2013). The source of turnout decline: New values or new contexts? Comparative Political Studies, 46(1), 95-117.
- Brady, H., Verba, S., & Schlozman, K. (1995). Beyond SES: A Resource Model of Political Participation. American Political Science Review, 89(2), 271-294.
- Caramani, D. (1996). La Partecipazione Elettorale: Gli Effetti della Competizione maggioritaria. Italian Political Science Review/Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica, 26(3), 585-608.
- Carreras, M. (2018). Why No Gender Gap in Electoral Participation? A civic duty explanation. Electoral Studies 52, 36-45.
- Cerruto, M. (2012). La partecipazione elettorale in Italia. Quaderni di Sociologia, 60, 17-39.
- Clark, T. N., & Lipset, S.M. (1991). Are Social Classes Dying? International Sociology, 6(4), 397-410.
- Corbetta, P., & Parisi, A. M. L. (1987). Il calo della partecipazione elettorale: disaffezione dalle istituzioni o crisi dei riferimenti partitici? Polis, 1(1), 29-65.
- Corbetta, P., & Parisi, A. M. L. (1994). Smobilitazione partitica e astensionismo elettorale. Polis, 8(3), 423-443.
- Corbetta P., & Schadee H. M. A. (1982). Le caratteristiche sociali e politiche dell’astensionismo elettorale in Italia. Il Politico, 47(4), 661-686.
- Culpepper, P. D., & Regan, A. (2014). Why don't governments need trade unions anymore? The death of social pacts in Ireland and Italy. Socio-Economic Review, 12(4), 723-745
- Dahl, R. A. (1971). Polyarchy: Participation and opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Dahl, R. A. (2008). On Political Equality. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Dalton, R. J. (2006). Citizenship norms and political participation in America: The good news is... the bad news is wrong. The Center for Democracy and Civil Society, Occasional Paper 2006-01.
- Dalton, R. (2007). The Good Citizen: How the Young are Transforming American Politics. Washington: CQ Press.
- Duverger, M. (1954). Political Parties: Their Organization and Activities in the Modern State. London: Methuen.
- Ebbinghaus, B., & Visser, J. (2000). Trade Unions in Western Europe since 1945. London: Macmillan.
- Evans, G., & Tilley, J. (2012). The Depoliticization of Inequality and Redistribution: Explaining the Decline of Class Voting. The Journal of Politics, 74(4), 963-976.
- Evans, G., & Tilley, J. (2017). The New Politics of Class: The Political Exclusion of the British Working Class. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Flavin, P., & Radcliff, B. (2011). Labor union membership and voting across nations. Electoral Studies, 20(4), 633-641.
- Franko, W., Kelly, N., & Witko, C. (2016). Class Bias in Voter Turnout, Representation, and Income Inequality. Perspectives on Politics, 14(2), 351-368
- Gallego, A. (2010). Understanding unequal turnout: Education and voting in comparative perspective. Electoral Studies, 29(2), 239-247.
- Gallego, A. (2015). Unequal Political Participation Worldwide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Gilens, M. (2012). Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Gray, M., & Caul, M. (2000). Declining voter turnout in advanced industrial democracies, 1950 to 1997: The effects of declining group mobilization. Comparative Political Studies, 33(9), 1091-1122.
- Inglehart, R. (1977). Values, objective needs, and subjective satisfaction among western publics. Comparative Political Studies, 9(4), 429-458.
- Karp, J. A., & Brockington, D. (2005). Social desirability and response validity: A comparative analysis of overreporting voter turnout in five countries. Journal of Politics, 67(3), 825-840.
- Kirchheimer, O. (1966). The Transformation of Western European Party Systems. In J. LaPalombara, & M. Weiner (Eds.), Political Parties and Political Development (pp. 177-200). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Kostelka, F., & Blais, A. (2021). The generational and institutional sources of the global decline in voter turnout. World Politics, 73(4), 629-667.
- Langton, K. P., & Jennings, K. M. (1968). Political Socialization and the High School Civics Curriculum in the United States. American Political Science Review, 62(3), 852-867.
- Leighley, J. E., & Nagler, J. (2007). Unions, voter turnout, and class bias in the US electorate, 1964–2004. The Journal of Politics, 69(2), 430-441.
- Lijphart, A. (1997). Unequal Participation: Democracy’s Unresolved Dilemma. American Political Science Review, 91(1), 1-14.
- Lipset, S. M., & Rokkan, S. (1967). Cleavage Structures, Party Systems, and Voter Alignments: An Introduction. In S. M. Lipset, & S. Rokkan (Eds.), Party Systems and Voter Alignments (pp. 1-64). New York London: The Free Press-Collier-Macmillan.
- Mannheimer, R., & Sani, G. (2001). La conquista degli astenuti. Bologna: Il Mulino.
- Mannheimer, R., & Zajczyk, F. (1982). L'astensionismo elettorale. Elementi di analisi a partire dai risultati del referendum 1981. Quaderni di Sociologia, 30(2-3-4), 399-436.
- Martin, P. S. (2003). Voting's Rewards: Voter Turnout, Attentive Publics, and Congressional Allocation of Federal Money. American Journal of Political Science, 47(1), 110-127.
- Milbrath, L. W., & Goel, M. L. (1977). Political Participation. 2d ed. Chicago: Rand McNally.
- Mosimann, N., & Pontusson, J. (2022). Varieties of trade unions and support for redistribution. West European Politics, 45(6), 1310-1333.
- Nevitte, N., Blais, A., Gidengil, E., & Nadeau, R. (2009). Socio-Economic Status and Non-Voting: A Cross-National Comparative Analysis. In H. D. Klingemann (Ed.), The Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (pp. 85-108). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Nie, N. H., Junn, J., & Stehlik-Barry, K. (1996). Education and Democratic Citizenship in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Radcliff, B., & Davis, P. (2000). Labor organization and electoral participation in industrial democracies. American Journal of Political Science, 44(1), 132-141.
- Raniolo, F. (2007). La partecipazione politica. Bologna: Il Mulino.
- Rennwald, L., & Pontusson, J. (2021). Paper Stones Revisited: Class Voting, Unionization and the Electoral Decline of the Mainstream Left. Perspectives on Politics, 19(1), 36-54.
- Rosema, M. (2007). Low turnout: Threat to democracy or blessing in disguise? Consequences of citizens' varying tendencies to vote. Electoral Studies, 26(3), 612-623.
- Rosenstone, S. J., & Hansen J. M. (1993). Mobilization, participation, and democracy in America. New York: Macmillan.
- Sartori, G. (1976). Parties and Party Systems. A Framework for Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Scervini, F., & Segatti, P. (2012). Education, Inequality and Electoral Participation. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 30(4): 403-413.
- Schlozman, K. L., Verba, S., & Brady, H. E. (2012). The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
- Smets, K., & van Ham, C. (2013). The Embarrassment of Riches? A Meta-analysis of individual level research on voter turnout. Electoral Studies 32(2), 344-35.
- Teixeira, R. A. (1992). The disappearing American voter. Washington: Brookings Institution Press.
- Tuorto, D. (2018) L’attimo Fuggente. Giovani e Voto in Italia, tra Continuità e Cambiamento. Bologna: Il Mulino.
- Tuorto, D., & Sartori, L. (2021). Quale genere di astensionismo? La partecipazione elettorale delle donne in Italia nel periodo 1948-2018. SocietàMutamentoPolitica, 11(22), 11-22.
- Verba, S., & Nie, N. H. (1972). Participation in America: Social equality and political democracy. New York: Harper & Row.
- Verba, S., Nie, N. H., & Kim, J. (1978). Participation and political equality: A seven-nation comparison. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Verba, S., Schlozman, K. L., & Brady, H. E. (1995). Voice and equality: Civic voluntarism in American politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Visser, J. (2006). Union membership statistics in 24 countries. Monthly Labor Review, 129(1), 38-49.
- Willeck, C., & Mendelberg, T. (2022). Education and Political Participation. Annual Review of Political Science, 25(1), 89-110.
- Wolfinger, R. E., & Rosenstone, S. J. (1980). Who votes? Yale: Yale University Press.