Due to key differences in the policy priorities of the League and the Five Star Movement, the formation of the yellow-green cabinet, appointed in Italy after the general election of March 2018, cannot adequately be explained by interpreting the main axis of party competition in terms of the classic left-right divide. Relying on a multi-dimensional spatial approach to party competition, this paper attempts to account for the formation of the Conte cabinet by looking at the policy positions of political parties on a number of substantive policy dimensions.
We analyse changes in the dimensionality of the policy space of party competition by using data from an expert survey fielded in the aftermath of the 2018 election and by comparing these data with similar expert survey data collected since 2001. Results highlight dramatic changes in the last two decades, showing a gradual decline in the salience of economic issues vis-à-vis an increase in the salience of non-economic domains such as European integration and immigration. We show that the formation of the Conte executive can be understood in light of the closeness of the positions of the two coalition partners on non-economic policy dimensions.