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Richard S. Katz, "Electoral Reform and the Transformation of Party Politics in Italy," Party Politics , 2 (January, 1996), 31-53.

First Paragraph:
When Italians voted in April 1993 to abrogate several clauses of the Senate electoral law, they were rejecting not merely a narrow, albeit centrally important, institution of the post-war Italian political system, but also the parties and party system, and the patterns of political relationships that had flourished under it. The immediate results were a redrafting of the entire parliamentary electoral system and an apparent realignment of forces in the parliament elected 7 months after approval of the new electoral law in August 1993. Among the obvious changes between July 1993 and July 1994 were: -the presence for the first time of an individual who had campaigned as the prime ministerial candidate of an electoral alliance (actually two partially overlapping, and in some respects mutually hostile, alliances) and who claimed a personal mandate to head the government; -the presence in the national government of the neofascists (under their new name of Alleanza Nazionale) for the first time; -the decimation of the Christian Democratic Party (DC) under their new logo of Partito Popolare Italiano (PPI) and the virtual disappearance of their long-time coalition partners. Especially following the rhetoric surrounding the electoral reform movement, the magnitude of these changes led some observers to talk about the inauguration of the 'Second Republic', and to the belief (or hope)that the new electoral system would fundamentally and permanently alter the nature of Italian politics.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Geographic distribution of seats under the new electoral laws.
Table 2: Outcome of the 1994 parliamentary election.
Table 3: Parliamentary groups.
Table 4: Seats won and margin of first-past-the-post victory by block and region.
Table 5: Vote share of winning candidate in single-member seats.
Table 6: Representation of women.
Table 7: Women in the Chamber of Deputies.

Last Paragraph:
Obviously, all this can be upset by the introduction of further institutional reforms, by the uncovering of further scandal, or by any of the other unpredictable events that make politics so fascinating. For the moment,however, it appears that the fundamental dynamics of Italian politics will prove to have changed far less than advocates of electoral reform hoped. More generally, this case suggests that using institutional reforms to 'improve' a political system may be far more easily said than done.