Italian party politics had been described for decades as immoderate and highly fractionalized. A great distance
between the parties on the left-to-right dimension (polarization) and fractionalization are the two
well-known syndromes of polarized multiparty politics, according to G. Sartori. This paper addresses the
peculiarities of the Italian party system, inquiring into the contemporary changes of the patterns of party
competition in Italy. It is argued that the Italian case has moved from polarized pluralism (1948-1992) to
polarized bipolarism (1994-2012), with two major political coalitions alternating in power. Nonetheless, the
progressive enfeeblement of the two competing coalitions, the emergence of new parties and the dismantlement
of the majoritarian electoral laws favour the reestablishment of a multi-polar pattern of competition.
The Italian party system now seems inexorably destined to go back to some form of multilateral distribution
of parties with no clear ideological connotations.