Movements in Parties: OccupyPD


When the United States activists called for people to Occupy#everywhere, it is unlikely they were thinking of the headquarters of the Italian centre-left party. Parties and movements are often considered to be worlds apart. In reality, parties have been relevant players in movement politics, and movements have influenced parties, often through the double militancy of many of their members. OccupyPD testifies to a continuous fluidity at the movement-party border, but also to a blockage in the party’s interactions with society that started long before the economic crisis but drastically accelerated with it. In this paper we present the OccupyPD Movement as a case of interaction between party politics and social movement politics, and in particular between the base membership of a centre-left party and the broader anti-austerity movement that diffused from the US to Europe adopting similar forms of actions and claims. Second, by locating it within the context of the economic and democratic crisis that erupted in 2007, we understand its emergence as a reaction towards politics in times of crisis of responsibility, by which we mean a drastic drop in the capacity of the government to respond to citizens’ requests. To fulfil this double aim, we bridge social movement studies with research on party change, institutional trust and democratic theory, looking at some political effects of the economic crisis in terms of a specific form of legitimacy crisis, as well as citizens’ responses to it, with a particular focus on the political meaning of recent anti-austerity protests. In this analysis, we refer to both quantitative and qualitative data from secondary liter-ature and original in-depth interviews carried out with a sample of OccupyPD activists.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v8i1p59

Keywords: Social Movements; Political Parties; Italy; Partito Democratico; OccupyPD


Berta G. (2007), “Un partito in franchising. Un’ipotesi per il neonato PD”, Il Mulino, 6: 996-1004, doi: 10.1402/25347.

Bobbio L. (2000), “Produzione di politiche a mezzo di contratti nella pubblica amministrazione ita-liana”, Stato e Mercato, 1: 111-141, doi: 10.1425/444.

Bordandini P., A. Di Virgilio and F. Raniolo (2008), “The Birth of a Party: The Case of the Italian Partito Democratico”, South European Society and Politics, 13(3): 303-324, doi: 10.1080/13608740802349472.

Bordignon F. (2014), “Matteo Renzi: A ‘Leftist Berlusconi’ for the Italian Democratic Party?”, South European Society and Politics, 19(1): 1-23, doi: 10.1080/13608746.2014.887240.

Bordignon F., L. Ceccarini (2013), “Five stars and a cricket. Beppe Grillo shakes Italian politics”, South European Society and Politics, 18(4): 427–449, doi:10.1080/13608746.2013.775720.

Budge I., H. D. Klingemann, J. Bara (2001), Mapping Policy Preferences: Estimates for Parties, Electors and Governments 1945-1998, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Carty R. K. (2004), “Parties as franchise systems: the stratarchical organisational imperative”, Party Politics, 10(1): 5–24, doi: 10.1177/1354068804039118.

Chiaramonte A., V. Emanuele (2013), Volatile e tripolare: il nuovo sistema partitico italiano, Centro Italiano Studi Elettorali (CISE)


Cress D. M., D. A. Snow (2000), “The Outcomes of Homeless Mobilization. The Influence of Or-ganization, Disruption, Political Mediation, and Framing”, American Journal of Sociology, 105(4): 1063-1104.

Crouch C. (2003), Postdemocrazia, Bari: Laterza.

Dalton R. (1996), Citizen Politics in Western Democracies. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House.

Damiani M. and P. Dominici (2013), “Il partito democratico. Al confine tra identità e trasformazioni”, paper presented at Convegno SISP (Società Italiana di Scienza Politica)(

Davis G.F., D. McAdam, W.R. Scott and M.N. Zald (eds. 2005), Social Movements and Organization Theory, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Davis G.F., C. Morrill, H. Rao and S. Soule (2008), “Introduction: Social Movements in Organizations and Markets”, Administrative Science Quarterly, 53: 389-394. doi: 10.2189/asqu.53.3.389.

della Porta D. (1996), Movimenti Collettivi e Sistema Politico in Italia, 1960-1995, Bari: Laterza.

della Porta D., M. Diani (2006) [1999], Social Movements. An Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell.

della Porta D. (2007a), The Global Justice Movement. Cross National and Transnational Perspec-tives, Boulder, CO: Paradigm.

della Porta D. (2007b), “Movimenti sociali e partiti politici: un gioco a somma zero?”, Rassegna italiana di sociologia, a. XLVIII(3): 503-532, doi: 10.1423/25491.

della Porta D. (2008), “Comparative Analysis: Case-Oriented Versus Variable-Oriented Research”, in M. Keating and D. della Porta, Approaches and Methodologies in the Social Sciences: a pluralist perspective, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

della Porta D. (2009) [2001], I partiti politici, Bologna: Il Mulino.

della Porta D. (2011), Democrazie, Bologna: Il Mulino.

della Porta D. (2013), Can Democracy be Saved?, Oxford: Polity Press.

della Porta D. (2014), Mobilizing for democracy. Comparing 1989 and 2011, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

della Porta D., M. Andretta (2013), “Protesting for justice and democracy: Italian Indignados?”, Contemporary Italian Politics, 5 (1): 23-37, doi: 10.1080/23248823.2013.783196.

Diamanti I., F. Bordignon and F. Ceccarini (eds. 2013), Un salto nel voto. Ritratto politico dell’Italia di oggi, Roma-Bari: Laterza.

Diamanti I. (2013) “Introduzione. 2013: il Paese delle minoranze in-comunicanti”, in I. Diamanti, F. Bordignon and L. Ceccarini (eds.), Un salto nel voto. Ritratto politico dell’Italia di oggi, Roma-Bari: Laterza.

Diani M., G. Lodi (1988), “Three in One: Currents in the Milan Ecology Movement”, in B. Klander-mans, H. Kriesi, and S. Tarrow (eds.), From Structure to Action. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 103–24.

Duyvandak J. W. (1995), The Power of Politics: New Social Movements in an Old Polity, France 1965-1989, Boulder, CO: Westview.

Eurobarometer (2013), Public Opinion in the European Union, Standard Eurobarometer 80, (

Fava T. and A. Girometti (2013), “Il Pd: arrivare primi senza vincere”, in I. Diamanti, F. Bordignon and L. Ceccarini, Un salto nel voto: ritratto politico dell’Italia di oggi, Roma-Bari: Laterza.

Flesher Fominaya C. (2014), “Spain is different”: Podemos and 15-M, in Open Democracy, 29 May 2009 (“spain-is-different”-podemos-and-15m).

Goldstone J. (ed. 2003), States, Parties and Social Movements, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hazan R. Y. and G. Rahat (2006), “Candidate Selection: Methods and Consequencies”, in R. S. Katz and W. Crotty (eds.), Handbook of Party Politics, London: Sage.

Hutter S. (2014), Protesting Economics and Culture in Western Europe: New Cleavages in Left and Right Politics, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Ignazi P. (2004), “Il puzzle dei partiti: più forti e più aperti ma meno attraenti e meno legittimi”, Il Mulino, 3(4): 325-343, doi: 10.1426/18698.

Juris J. S. (2012), “Reflections on #Occupy Everywhere: Social Media, Public Space, and Emerg-ing Logics of Aggregation”, American Ethnologist, 39(2): 259-279, doi: 10.1111/j.1548-1425.2012.01362.x.

Katz R. S. and P. Mair (1994), How parties Organize. Change and Adaptation in Party Organiza-tions in Western Democracies, London: Sage.

Katz R. S., P. Mair (1995), “Changing models of party organization and party democracy”, Party Politics, 1(1): 5-28, doi: 10.1177/1354068895001001001.

Kirchheimer O. (1966), “The Transformation of the Western European Party System”, in J. La Palombara and M. Weiner (eds.), Political Parties and Political Developments, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Koelble T. A. (1991), The Left Unraveled: Social Democracy and the New Left Challenge in Britain, Durham: Duke University Press.

Koopmans R. (1995), Democracy from Below: New Social Movements and the Political System in West Germany, Boulder, CO: Westview.

Kriesi H. (1989), “The Political Opportunity Structure of the Dutch Peace Movement”, West European Politics, 12: 295-312, doi: 10.1080/01402388908424754.

Kriesi H. (1993), “Sviluppo organizzativo dei nuovi movimenti e contesto politico”, Rivista italiana di Scienza politica, XXIII(1): pp. 67-117.

Kriesi H. (2014), “Social Movements and political parties”, in D. della Porta and M. Diani (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on Social Movements, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kriesi H., R. Koopmans, J.W. Duyvendak and M. Giugni (1995), New Social Movements in Western Europe: A Comparative Analysis, Minneapolis-London: University of Minnesota Press-UCL Press.

Maguire D. (1995), “Opposition Movements and Opposition Parties: Equal Partners or Dependent Relations in the Struggle for Power and Reform?”, in J. C. Jenkins and B. Kladermans (eds.), The Politics of Social Protest: Comparative Perspectives on States and Social Movements, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Mair P. (1997), Party System Change, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Mair P. (2009), Representative versus Responsible Government, MPIfG Working Paper 09/8. Co-logne: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (

McAdam D., S. Tarrow (2010), “Ballots and Barricades: On the Reciprocal Relationship between Elections and Social Movements”, Perspectives on Politics, 8(2): 529-542, doi: 10.1017/S1537592710001234.

Melucci A. (1989), Nomads of the Present, London: Hutchinson Radius.

Morrill C., M.N. Zald, H. Rao (2003), “Covert Political Conflict in Organizations: Challenges from Below”, Annual Review of Sociology, 29: 391-415, doi: 10.1146/annurev.soc.29.010202.095927.

Morrill C. and E. Chiarello, “Movements within Institutions/organizations”, in D. Snow, D. della Porta, B. Klandermans, and D. McAdam (eds 2013), Blackwell Encyclopedia on Social and Political Movements, Oxford: Blackwell.

Müller-Rommel F. (1990), “New Political Movements and “New Politics” Parties in Western Europe”, in R. Dalton and M. Kuechler (eds), Challenging the Political Order: New Social and Political Movements in Western Democracies, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Panebianco A. (1982), Modelli di partito. Organizzazione e potere nei partiti politici, Bologna: Il Mulino.

Piccio D. R. (2011), Party Responses to Social Movements. A Comparative Analysis of Italy and the Netherlands in the 1970s and 1980s, EUI Thesis.

Pizzorno A. (1983), “Sulla razionalità della scelta democratica”, Stato e mercato, 7: 3-25.

Pizzorno A. (1996), “Mutamenti nelle istituzioni rappresentative e sviluppo dei partiti politici”, in P. Bairoch and E. J. Hobsbawm (eds), La storia dell’Europa contemporanea, Torino: Einaudi.

Poguntke T. (2006), “Political Parties and Others Organizations”, in R. S. Kats and W. Crotty (eds.), Handbook of Party Politics, London: Sage.

Revelli M. (2013), Finale di partito, Torino: Einaudi.

Roggeband C. M., J. W. Duyvendak (2013), "The Changing Supply Side of Mobilization: Questions for Discussion", in J. van Stekelenburg, C.

M. Roggeband and B. Klandermans (eds.), The Changing Dynamics of Contention, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.

Rohrshneider R. (1993), “Impact of Social Movements on European Party Systems”, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 528(1): 157-170, doi: 10.1177/0002716293528001012.

Snow D. A., L. A. Zurcher, and S. Ekland-Olson (1980), “Social Networks and Social Movements: A Microstructural Approach to Differential Recruitment”, American Sociological Review, 45: 787-801.

Tarrow S. (2014), “Contentious Politics”, in D. della Porta and M. Diani (eds.), The Oxford Hand-book on Social Movements, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tarrow S. (1998) [1994], Power in Movements. Social Movements, Collective Action and Politics, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Tilly C. (1978), Durable Inequalities, Berkley: University of California Press.

Van Biezen I., P. Mair, and T. Poguntke (2012), “Going, Going,…Gone? Party Membership in the 21st Century’”, European Journal of Political Research, 51(1): 24-56, doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6765.2011.01995.x.

Verney S., A. Bosco (2013), “Living Parallel Lives: Italy and Greece in an Age of Austerity”, South European Society and Politics, 18(4): 397-426, doi: 10.1080/13608746.2014.883192.

Zald M. N., M. A. Berger (1978), “Social Movements in Organizations: Coup d’état, Insurgency, and Mass Social Movement”, American Journal of Sociology, 83: 823-861.

Zamponi L. (2012), “‘Why don't Italians Occupy?’ Hypotheses on a Failed Mobilisation”, Social Movement Studies: Journal of Social, Cultural and Political Protest, 11(3-4): 416-426, doi:10.1080/14742837.2012.708833.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.