Deep Determinants of Preferences over Political Institutions: Monarchy Vs Republic in 1946 Italy

Paolo Buonanno (University of Bergamo)
Matteo Cervellati (University of Bologna)
Sara Lazzaroni (University of Bologna)
Giovanni Prarolo (University of Bologna)

Abstract: A growing literature studies the working of democratic institutions and their emergence. Little is known on preferences over political institutions in the population at large and on their historical drivers. We investigate the empirical determinants of the votes in the Referendum over Monarchy vs. Republic held, for the first time in universal franchise, at the end of WWI in 1946 in Italy. We construct a large disaggregate database to study the determinants of the votes for about 8100 municipalities in Italy. A main variable of interest is the exposure to the rule of more or less republican and monarchic sovereign polities in medieval times. We track the emergence, evolution and territorial disappearance of the sovereign polities in pre-industrial times. We build a time varying political score for the Italian peninsula that offers a proxy of the actual exposure to the rule of republics and monarchies in each location and each year over the period 1000-1861. The data allows a first measurement of past exposure to different political institutions and an exploration of their (cultural) legacy for preferences over Republic and Monarchy during the transition to democracy. The empirical analysis also accounts for economic conflicts of interests (in terms of historical land inequality), socio-economic conditions and for the role of short term contingencies (like fascist-nazi massacres and occupations along the nazi defensive lines during WWII).