Eugenio Salvati Michelangelo Vercesi


Legislative turnover is a crucial topic for parliamentary studies. The breadth and frequency of the parliamentary class’ renewal are indicators of both elite circulation and legislatures’ institutionalization in parliamentary democracies. Scholars of political professionalization have shown that the stable composition of parliaments fosters MPs’ familiarity with parliamentary procedures. This, all else equal, helps legislatures play a more central role vis-à-vis external party bodies and executives. In a nutshell: parliamentary democracies face a trade-off between open representative channels and legislative stabilization. The comparative literature accounts for legislative turnover through electoral volatility, electoral systems, opportunity structures for political careers, and party quotas. With regard to the Italian case, the two outstanding turnover rates of 1994 and 2013 seem to be especially explained by the first of these factors. However, this does not equally hold with the 2018 general election. Based on these premises, we want two answer two research questions: (1) to what extent does the variation of turnover between 2013 and 2018 differ from that between 1994 and the subsequent elections?; (2) what accounts better for the legislative turnover of 2018? The aim of this article is thus twofold. First, we describe the dynamics of legislative turnover of recent years from a diachronic perspective. Secondly, we provide preliminary explanatory insights about the 2018 turnover rate. The empirical analysis refers to two pairs of elections for the Chamber of Deputies (1994-1996 and 2013-2018), each held based on similar electoral logics. Overall, we argue that the internal organization of political parties can be a major factor for the explanation of the 2018 changes, rather than electoral volatility. This suggests speculations about the stability of the Italian parliamentary class