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Was Mattarella worth the trouble? Explaining the failure of the 2016 Italian constitutional referendum

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 January 2018

Fedra Negri*
Affiliation:
Department of Social and Political Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy
Elisa Rebessi
Affiliation:
Department of Social and Political Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy
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Abstract

The election of President Mattarella is a turning point in Matteo Renzi’s attempt to reform the constitution. This choice determined the loss of Forza Italia’s support to the constitutional reform, thus leaving the Renzi cabinet and the Democratic Party alone on the Yes-side. Our goal is to assess the degree of Renzi’s misjudgment by comparing two theoretical perspectives on voting behavior in direct-democratic settings through a nested design. Our results highlight that vote choices can be explained by both the systematic and the heuristic modes of information processing. Respondents’ agreement with the content of the reform (systematic mode) and a positive evaluation of the Renzi cabinet (heuristic mode) are key predictors of Yes vote. Instead, the negative assessment of the economic situation is a crucial driver of No vote. Lastly, we build a bridge between these two perspectives by showing that partisan attachments conditioned the effect of respondents’ content evaluation on voting behavior.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© Società Italiana di Scienza Politica 2018 

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