Rediscovering the territory: population size
of municipalities and electoral behaviour in Italy
This article aims to rediscover a variable that has been rather neglected by the Italian electoral studies on the so called «Second Republic»: demographic size of municipalities. Is there a difference between a citizen who votes in a small municipality of North-east and another one who votes in Milan? Between voting in a rural village or in an urban metropolis? In other words, is territory – considered as centrality or peripherality of the municipality where vote is cast – important to understand Italians’ electoral choices? And if so, how much it matters? May it even become a decisive dimension for the electoral results? Moving from these questions, the article analyzes the results of 2008 Italian general election by dividing the more than 8.000 Italian municipalities in 5 classes of demographic size (0-5.000, 5.001-15.000, 15.001-50.000, 50.001-100.000, above 100.000) and the territory of our country in 4 geo-political sub-units (North-west, North-east, Red belt and South) in order to develop a complete mapping of the incidence of demographic variable on the vote. This study concerns the 2008 vote to main Italian parties, coalitions and electoral blocs and uses the analysis of variance to calculate the tightness of the association between the above variable and the vote through a synthetic index. The findings are very interesting and in some ways surprising. Demographic size matters, especially in some areas (North) and for some parties (Northern League, Pd, Udc, Idv). In particular, three possible behaviours occur: some parties, definable as «city oriented», tends to achieve increasing electoral results whenever the size of municipality grows (eg. Pd, Idv); other parties, labelled as «village oriented», show an opposite trend, that is strongly rooted in small towns and a systematic loss of votes when demographic size increases (Northern League, Udc); the third type of behaviour is given by some «all around» political forces (Pdl, La Destra, Mpa) that show indifference to the variable. An even more pronounced effect could be found in coalitions and blocs analysis, with the centre-left collecting a strictly urban vote and the centre-right stronger in small towns.