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Dr Emanuele Massetti

Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics
+44 (0)1483 684385
21 AC 05


My publications


Massetti E (2014) Mainstream parties and the politics of immigration in Italy: A structural advantage for the right or a missed opportunity for the left?, Acta Politica 50 (4) pp. 486-505 Palgrave Macmillan UK
The structure of the Italian party system pushes the mainstream right and left to adopt different strategies on immigration in spite of a certain ideological and definite policy convergence. First, in a context of bipolar competition, the mainstream right prefers to cooperate, rather than compete, with the anti-immigrant radical right. Second, while the mainstream left dominates the centre-left coalition, the mainstream right has found itself subject to and torn by the populist tendencies of the centre-right coalition leader Silvio Berlusconi. The analysis shows that the mainstream left has endorsed concerns over security and border control, while remaining open to the social, cultural and (to a lesser extent) political integration of immigrants. In contrast, the mainstream right has appeared increasingly split between a component ?contaminated? by Berlusconi, which makes some concessions to the radical right; and a moderate component, which is more sensitive to liberal ideas and/or to the solidaristic remarks of the Catholic Church. The reality of the Italian welfare system and labour market would appear to create more favourable conditions for the ideological approach of the mainstream left. However, the mainstream right has benefited from its alliance with the radical right as it has constantly owned the immigration issue.
Massetti E, Schakel AH (2016) Between autonomy and secession: Decentralization and regionalist party ideological radicalism, Party Politics 22 (1) pp. 59-79 Sage
The literature on regionalist parties has traditionally focused on the origins of their electoral strength while their ideology remains an under-explored aspect of territorial party politics. This is surprising because for the question of whether decentralization ?accommodates? or ?empowers? regionalist pressure one needs to consider both. In this paper we single out the factors that increase the probability of adopting a radical (secessionist) as opposed to a moderate (autonomist) ideological stance, with a particular focus on the effect of decentralization. We make use of a large and original dataset, covering 11 countries, 49 regions, and 78 parties for the 1940s?2000s. Beyond the level of decentralization and decentralization reforms, we analyze the impact of two sets of factors: the first concerns regional identity and includes regional language, regional history and geographical remoteness; while the second concerns institutional/political variables which include voting systems, competition from statewide parties and from other regionalist parties, and office responsibility. We find that all variables matter for regionalist party ideology but with different effects across regional and national electoral arenas. We also find that level of decentralization and regional reform is significantly associated with radicalism, which suggests that policy success and accommodative strategies by statewide parties may lead to a polarization on the centre-periphery dimension.
Schakel A, Massetti E (2017) A world of difference: the sources of regional government composition and alternation, West European Politics 41 (3) pp. 703-727 Taylor & Francis
This article aims to explain longitudinal and cross-sectional variation in regional government composition ? oversized majorities and incongruence between regional and national governments (cross-cutting) ? and regional government alternation. The analysis focuses on the explanatory value of a wide range of regional-level institutional variables, such as majoritarian vs. proportional voting systems and established practices of consociationalism. In addition, it provides a tentative exploration of the impact of regional (i.e. non-state-wide) parties on government composition and alternation. The findings show that most institutional variables have the expected impact, e.g., majoritarian voting systems increase government alternation and consensual practices decrease both cross-cutting and alternation. The analysis also suggests that regional parties impact on government composition and alternation in two ways. Strong regional parties increase cross-cutting and, once in office, they tend to reduce alternation. Smaller regional parties out of office tend to increase alternation and to decrease oversized government as their seat shares grow.
Massetti E, Schakel A (2016) Decentralisation Reforms and Regionalist Parties? Strength: Accommodation, Empowerment or Both?, Political Studies 65 (2) pp. 432-451 SAGE Publications
The article aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of decentralisation on regionalist parties? strength in both national and regional elections. We consider decentralisation both as a putatively crucial event, that is, the creation of an elected regional government, and as a process. Our study is based on a dataset including aggregate vote shares for 227 regionalist parties competing in 329 regions across 18 Western democracies. Our findings show that decentralisation as an event has a strong impact on the number of regionalist parties, as it triggers processes of proliferation and diffusion. Decentralisation as a process has an overall empowerment effect in regional elections, while it does not have an effect in national elections. However, our analysis also reveals that the overall null effect in national elections is actually the result of an empowering effect on new regionalist parties and of an accommodating effect on old regionalist parties.
Massetti Emanuele (2018) Regional elections in Italy (2012?15): Low turnout,
tri-polar competition and Democratic Party?s
(multi-level) dominance,
Regional and Federal Studies 28 (3) pp. 325-351 Taylor & Francis
Between October 2012 and May 2015, all Italian regions went to the polls to
renew their assemblies and executives. In contrast to previous election
rounds, only seven out of fifteen ordinary regions held their elections in
(horizontal) simultaneity. For the first time, some ordinary regions held their
elections in (vertical) simultaneity with the national or European election. The
election results were somehow exceptional in three ways. First, they were
affected by an extremely low level of turnout vis-à-vis previous regional
elections and, in line with the second-order election model, vis-a-vis the 2013
general election. Turnout was, however, comparatively higher in the special
status regions governed by dominant ethno-regionalist parties (Aosta Valley
and South Tyrol); and in the regions that voted in vertical simultaneity with
the national and (to a lesser extent) European elections. Secondly, in contrast
to previous regional elections, competition for regional executives was (at
least) tri-polar, following the pattern that emerged in the 2013 general
election. Thirdly, in contrast to the predictions of the second-order election
model, this round of regional elections did not punish the national
incumbent. Indeed, the Democratic Party won fifteen out of twenty-one
regional presidencies, taking nine of them from the centre-right. Finally, it is
worth stressing that the combination of low turnout and tri-polar competition,
in conjunction with presidential executives and majoritarian voting systems,
raises serious issues of democratic legitimacy, as most regional presidents are
voted in office by between a fifth and a quarter of registered voters.
The article shows how the main regionalist parties in Scotland and Wales?the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru?have engaged with a populist discourse in the wake of the Great Recession. Based on a qualitative analysis of party manifestos and party-elite interviews, the article shows that the two parties have adopted a left-wing populist discourse, based on a critique of austerity policies. In this way, albeit from distinctively regionalist perspective, they performed roles very similar to that of other contemporary left-wing populist parties, particularly in Southern Europe. The Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru were able to frame their anti-austerity stances within a populist discourse because all three traditional British parties shared a preference for pro-austerity economic policies. Therefore, in Laclau?s terms, the two ?Celtic? parties? attack on austerity constituted an open challenge to the hegemonic discourse of the British ?power bloc?. Analogous to the expansion of a right-wing anti-establishment protest in British politics (monopolized by the UKIP), the two parties (particularly the Scottish one) capitalized on the expansion of a left-wing populist area. This strategy has lately become less viable because Jeremy Corbyn?s Labour party broke with the pro-austerity consensus among British elites.
Heinisch Reinhard, Massetti Emanuele, Mazzoleni Oscar (2018) Populism and ethno-territorial politics in European multi-level systems, Comparative European Politics 16 (6) pp. 923-936 Palgrave Macmillan UK
The relationship between populism and ethno-territorial politics has emerged repeatedly in empirical studies outside Western Europe. This article presents the main aim of the special issue, which is the systematically and empirically based investigation of the linkages between populism and ethno-territorial ideologies in Western European states. By introducing a conceptual map, in which the defining characteristics of populism, regionalism, state nationalism, and Euroscepticism are identified and conceptualized, the article proceeds with the possible linkage points between both concepts. It also proposes a smallest common denominator relationship between populism and ethno-territorial ideologies in that the notion of ?homogeneous people? becomes inexorably connected to the concept of ?nation? or ?region? pitted against political, economic, and cultural elites operating at various levels of government. By foreshadowing and discussing several of the key findings of the empirical case studies presented in this special issue, the introductory article highlights important emerging trends. Most crucially, only radical-right parties (both regionalist and state nationalist) appear to be inherently and stably populist. The same parties are also clearly Eurosceptic. By contrast, several regionalist parties, positioned in the mainstream left or right, tend to adopt a populist discourse only incidentally and temporarily.
Baldini Gianfranco, Bressanelli Edoardo, Massetti Emanuele (2018) Who is in Control? Brexit and the Westminster Model, The Political Quarterly 89 (4) pp. 537-544 Wiley
This article provides a preliminary assessment of the impact of the Brexit process?from the June 2016 referendum to June 2018?on the British political system. Drawing on the classic work of Arend Lijphart and the ensuing scholarship applying the Westminster model to Britain, it seeks to understand whether and to what extent Brexit has impacted on the majoritarian features of the system. Adapting Lijphart's criteria, it focuses on the electoral?party dimension, the executive?legislative relations and the territorial power?sharing arrangements. It argues that Brexit has brought to light several intertwined tensions that had been brewing inside British politics over the course of a number of years, and which are likely to continue unfolding for several years to come. Even if emerging trends tend to be fragile, complex, even contradictory, and the current uncertainty makes any long(er)?term assessment futile, recent developments appear to signal a possible strengthening of the executive over the legislature and of the central over the devolved administrations, thus consolidating the majoritarian traits of the British political system.

Additional publications