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Resumen: The relationship between electoral laws, party systems, and form of government (parliamentary or presidential) has long been a central object of analysis for political scientists. Many scholars —following the seminal study by Maurice Duverger— have stressed the impact that electoral laws have on the party system, maintaining that it is only through such impact that they can exert an influence on the form of government. Others —following the studies on structuring and functioning of party systems by scholars such as Stein Rokkan, Sydney Verba, Giovanni Sartori, etc.— have stressed that in their nature and substance party systems have deeper roots compared to electoral laws, therefore leaving room to assert that electoral laws can exert a direct influence on the form of government. In addition, historical evidence —from the Weimer Republic to the fall of the French Fourth Republic and the rise of the Fifth, or to the lack of government change in the Italian First Republic— points to the fact that often the actual working of a specific form of government is a result of factors external to that political system such as decolonization, global economic crises, wars, or the status of international relations. In other words, no conclusive evidence can be brought to sustain or deny in general terms a direct and predominant influence of electoral laws both on party systems and form of government. However, the above assertions should not be construed as an a priori criticism of institutional engineering: nobody can deny that electoral laws and constitutional provisions have, if not a direct and predominant impact, at least some influence on party systems, and —above all— that they are the only instrument available in the short run to attempt to modify the functioning of a political system. This leads to the conclusion —confirmed by a variety of comparative examples from the French and Italian experience— that the existing evidence does not allow safe generalizations and that the entire issue should rather be always examined only with reference to a specific political system.
Palabras clave: Italian Political System. Electoral Rules. Party Systems. Form of Government. Presidentialization.