Who got what in the Conte government?

The Lega has played a blinder

The Lega and the Five Star Movement (M5S) look finally to have agreed a coalition government capable of winning the confidence of both the President of the Republic and the Parliament.

La Repubblica has published a list of ministers. Of these,

  • the M5S have nine ministers (including PM Conte);
  • the Lega has eight, and
  • three ministers(Moavero Milanesi, Paolo Savona, and Sergio Costa) are non-partisan

Which party has done better from this division of ministries: the Lega or the M5S?

One strong generalisation in political science is that parties' share of ministerial posts in a coalition government is approximately equal to their share of the coalition parties' legislative seats (this is known as Gamson's Law).

Considering just the seats in the Camera, the coalition has 349 seats, of which the Lega has 35%. Yet the Lega has 47% of the (partisan-held) ministries. That's a pretty good haul.

Departures from Gamson's Law are sometimes justified by pointing to the differing worth of the portfolios held by each party. If a party has a disproportionately low share of cabinet portfolios compared to its contribution in seats, that might be justified if it holds particularly important portfolios.

But invoking portfolio salience doesn't help the M5S. If we use Druckman and Warwick's expert survey measures of portfolio importance, then the Lega still has 40% of the (importance-weighted, partisan-held) cabinet posts, which is still more than its 35% share of the coalition's legislative majority.

(You can find my working for this at this Google Docs spreadsheet. If anything, I've been harsh to the Lega, and generous to the M5S: Giorgetti's position as sottosegretario alla presidenza is much more than un sottosegretario qualsiasi, and Conte, although he was proposed by the M5S, is clearly semidetached from the party)

All of this confirms Duncan's view that Matteo Salvini is, by some distance, the smartest political operator that Italy presently has.