According to the mainstream of the Italian electoral research, voting behaviour is mainly promoted by factors such as ideology and party identification. Nevertheless, communication research implicitly defies this point of view, claiming that leaders' appeals recently have become the most important motivation to vote for a given party. Using survey data, this article examines the role of party leaders in the 1996 campaign. A traditional (recursive) model based on ordinary least squares (ols) regression confirms the relevance of party sympathy in the process of opinion formation, but an alternative 2sls (non recursive) model more realistically shows that party leaders have a decisive role. Moreover, the non recursive model assesses the substantial role played also by nine issues, not previously highlighted by the more simple recursive model.