• crises;
  • political parties;
  • Italy;
  • United States;
  • reform

In the early autumn of 2013 large minorities in Italy and the United States fermented crises that badly disrupted the government of the two countries. These cases were widely understood as instances of dysfunction in established democracies that would rarely be replicated elsewhere. However, while all the conditions that generated the crises are unlikely to be evident in other established democracies three important factors that caused the disruptions in the American and Italian political processes are also sources of political conflict in Britain. They are the powers of the second legislative chamber, the weakening links between parties and social groups, and the redrawing of electoral boundaries. All of them present problems for political reform in Britain, and understanding the role they played in the two political crises of 2013 is important for future reform in Britain.