The “unwilling conscripts” of the House of Freedoms

Special report: The government of partisan coalitions
Conditions and perception and uses of coalition by young activists in Italy
By Stéphanie Dechezelles

This article rests on the hypothesis that a coalition can be considered as a process during which normal rules and practices of activism are tested. Through the Italian case of the House of Freedoms (mainly composed by the Northern League, the National Alliance and Forza Italia) the ruling coalition between 2001 and 2006; we explore the consequences of this kind of alliance on young activists, just as their party was joining the government. Focusing on the grass-roots enables us to underline that the conditions of perception and use of the coalition depend on a set of different factors which characterized each party: the importance of ideology, the type of partisan culture, the probability of access to electoral mandates for its members, the position of the party inside the coalition, the degree of professionalization and the proximity towards the practice of politics. If the impact of the coalitional configuration on the activities of the youth organizations is globally weak, on the contrary it affects the careers (and associated role conflicts) of their members, especially for those who experience the most a contradiction between expected/real benefits from the coalition and their primary partisan socialization.


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