In this article, we investigate the case of the Italian Democratic Party (Partito Democratico – PD). We look at how members and sympathizers are integrated within the party and their respective role in selecting the leader. The PD applies a two-step procedure for selecting its party leaders. First, enrolled members are able to screen the candidates running for party leadership, so that only three candidates are entitled progress to the following step. Second, the party leader is selected via open primaries where all electors are admitted. We aim to assess if these highly inclusive procedures allowing party members and sympathizers to have a say together in leader selections may breed any strain between the two selectorates. To do so, we separately focus on the level of competitiveness of the races successively involving members and then sympathizers. We rely on four different datasets including aggregate data at the regional level about selections for the party leader organized in 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2019. Results show that the two selectorates have only partially converged along the same lines. In fact, a downward trend affects both closed and open primaries; instead, the vote by party members often results in competitive closed primaries, while open primaries are more likely to generate plebiscitary results. This may produce important consequences on the different role of members and sympathizers within the party.
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Seddone, A., Venturino, F., & Sandri, G. (2021). Juntos pero no revueltos. Miembros, simpatizantes, y el Partido Democrático en Italia. Revista Internacional De Sociología, 79(4), e194. doi: 10.3989/ris.2021.79.4.m21.06