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Portfolio-specific accountability and retrospective voting: the case of Italy

  • Carolina Plescia (a1)
Abstract

How do voters attribute responsibility for government outcomes when they are the result of a collective decision taken by multiple parties within a coalition government? In this article we test the argument that in a multiparty coalition system, responsibility attribution should vary according to the quantity and quality of portfolios that the coalition partner controls. The article uses data from the Italian National Election Study in Italy, a country usually characterized by governments formed by more than two parties. We find no consistent empirical evidence that coalition parties collectively suffer from perceived negative performance. While the prime minister party is held responsible on average more than the other coalition partners, responsibility attribution decreases by party size in the parliament rather than by the quantity of ministerial portfolios the incumbent party controls. Issue saliency, however, plays an important role in the retrospective voting mechanism. These results have important implications for our understanding of electoral behaviour and democratic accountability.

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Corresponding author
*E-mail: carolina.plescia@univie.ac.at
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