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Luigi Curini and Luca Pinto, "Government formation under the shadow of a core party: The case of the First Italian Republic," Party Politics, 19 (May 2013), 502-522. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
Coalition formation is one of 'the richest, most fascinating, and most important features of European politics' (Laver and Schofield, 1990: v). The validity of this statement is easily understandable if we consider that in 13 western European countries between 1945-1999 more than 90 percent of all majority governments were based on a coalition of parties (Mu¨ller and Strøm, 2000: 564). Coalitions also play a central role in minority governments, where they represent one third of the cases (Woldendorp et al., 2000). Furthermore, governments based on coalitions appear to be increasing over the total number of governments (De Winter et al., 2002, 2006). In this regard, trying to predict the party-composition of cabinets represents one of the most discussed topic covered in the literature.1 Interestingly, this area of studies has also allowed a fruitful combination (and a reciprocal strengthening) of theoretical insights with empirical analyses (Ba¨ck and Dumont, 2007; Debus, 2009; Laver and Schofield, 1990; Laver and Shepsle, 1996; Martin and Stevenson, 2001). There is however an important exception; despite its theoretical relevance (see Schofield, 1995, 2008; Schofield and Sened, 2006) the role played by the existence of a core party in explaining the partisan composition of governments, represents an understudied area in the empirical coalition research, as admitted in the most quoted article covering these issues (Martin and Stevenson, 2001). This article aims to cover this gap in the literature.

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Cycle-set (Left Panel) and presence of a core party (Right Panel).
Table 1. Italian governments in the First Republic, 1946-1993
Table 2. Conditional logit analysis of government formation.

Last Paragraph:
As we have illustrated, the spatial hypotheses, besides finding a strong empirical corroboration in the data, help also to further clarify the role played by other classical variables employed in the literature to explain government formation. With the help of a new dataset that takes between-election dynamics into account, we have shown that the nature of the cabinet-bargaining process appears to be qualitatively different when the DC enjoys a core position compared to when it does not. In the former situation, the probability to form a single party government considerably increases, while the role played by political inertia, that appears so relevant when a core party is absent, simply ceases to be significant. In this sense, beyond better accounting for government formation, our results add a new insight to some important aspects of Italian history, helping to identify the necessary (spatial) conditions under which the cycle of a government formula can be expected to be broken. Given the importance of these results, it would be advisable to explore their relevance in other countries as well.

Last updated November 2013