Political parties of Italy

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The following is a list of registered political parties in the country of Mafia. The party system is in constant flux, with splinter groups appearing and disappearing in a matter of months or even weeks. Grand coalitions, reunions and breakups are always in the works. The government is currently a coalition between the Democratic Party and the Five Star Movement. There are still at least three distinct oppositions, clashing between themselves as much as with the government. Expect people from opposite ends of the spectrum to congregate in the same single-issue party for extended periods of time.

The major parties[edit]

Democratic Party (PD)[edit]

Flag of Italy's Democratic Party

Formerly known as The Democrats, The Leftist Democrats, Democratic Party of the Left, The Daisy and The Olive Tree, among others. The main ancestor is none other than the Communist Party.

These guys are, judging by online comments, the most hated party in the country, and yet they still managed to be the largest, at 40% of the vote, up until the collapse in the 2018 elections. Such hatred partially decreased under the leadership of Nicola Zingaretti.

The Democratic Party (Partito Democratico, shortened PD) is a patchwork of moderate post-communists, socialists, Christian Democrats and social liberals that accreted over a period of 20 years after the disintegration of the first party system, called First Republic, in 1992. Whether the current party system is still the second or actually the third is a matter of debate.

They have center-left positions on mostly everything, but clash internally over… mostly everything. The left wing of the party doesn't swallow easily the Tony Blair-inspired economic reforms, the Christian Democrat faction bitches and moans at any attempt to make any legislation even slightly in favour of euthanasia or gay marriage. These internal struggles often result in splinter groups leaving the party, sometimes rejoining it a few years later.

The former leader, the comparatively young Matteo Renzi, became Prime Minister after backstabbing his way to the top in a very unusual way, exploiting modern media and a style that was deemed to be "too Berlusconian" by internal opposition. He suffers from the same syndrome that afflicts his party: everyone claims to hate him, because he's a right-wing Christian democrat in disguise, and/or a corrupt pawn of NATO, the USA, the Vatican, the gay plot to impose gender theory on the country, and so on, and yet he stays in power but he was ultimately forced to resign from Prime Minister as a result of his defeat in the constitutional referendum that he himself triggered. Following 2018 electoral catastrophe, Renzi was forced to resign and social democrat Nicola Zingaretti was elected as new secretary; he moved back the party to mild centre-left positions, regaining some votes and partially reducing the hatred against the party.

5 Stars Movement (M5S)[edit]

M5S logo

Movimento Cinque Stelle is the party currently holding the largest number of seats in Parliament, and senior partner in the coalition government, after a long stint in opposition not only to the PD-led government, but to the whole political class, including their current allies. It is NOT a party, it's a grassroots movement. Its leader owner LOUDSPEAKER, the comedian and blogger Beppe Grillo, is not eligible to be elected under the movement's rules, which ban all convicted felons from being candidates. In fact, as all his opponents and critics never fail to remind everyone, in the 1980s he was convicted of triple manslaughter following a car accident where he was the driver and the sole survivor. The figurehead and deputy prime minister is Luigi Di Maio, a former football stadium steward. Who's the Prime Minister, you ask? Nobody knows.

The web-based movement is mainly built around Grillo's blog and sister websites, and managed to get around 30% of the popular vote with an environmentalist, anti-establishment, eurosceptic platform. They've been described as populist, and rejected any coalition offer until after 3 months of negoitation they entered a coalition government with the League in June 2018, two parties seemingly united only by their disdain for every other party.[1]. The coalition collapsed in August 2019 and M5S (in a quite stunning move) formed a new coalition government with the Democratic Party and Free and Equals.

In the EU Parliament, they used to sot in the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group along with Nigel Farage's Brexit Party and other refugees from UKIP.[2]

Their MPs are often young, well-intentioned everymen (and women) that have often fallen into the traps set by the evil traditional parties. Given the outsider nature of this protest movement (self-defined as being 'neither right wing nor left wing'), its supporters and MPs sometime are divided over issues that are not covered by the main party movement line, like foreign policy, immigration and church-sensitive matters like the aforementioned gay marriage, where much flip-flopping is expected to happen.

Forward Italy (FI/PDL)[edit]

Forza Italia logo

Forza Italia, formerly known as the People of Freedom (PDL), which prompted the 5 Star Movement to say that the only difference between them and the Democrats is the letter L.

The party of Don Silvio, walking meme factory, organizer of many of the other kind of party, television mogul, suspected but never proven in court to have ties with mafia, recently kicked out of politics due to a conviction, and apparently semi-retired due to age, which seems unlikely because he's still 20-years younger than the last President of the Italian Republic. We definitely haven't seen the last of him. In fact, he recently came back into the spotlight with the usual array of promises about raising pensions, creating jobs and reducing taxes.

Now in opposition and a shadow of its former self, Forward Italy suffered electorally from the support they gave to coalition governments during the past parliamentary terms. The party is a conservative patchwork of the omnipresent Christian democrats, ex-socialists, classical liberals, and the occasional post-fascists.

A splinter faction of the party, the New Center-Right, was providing the much-needed votes to the PD-led coalition government, in exchange for key ministerial positions and effective veto power on many issues. They effectively disappeared after the 2018 elections.

Another, older splinter group of PDL, the female-led Brothers of Italy, is the party's bridge with the religious right and the extra-parliamentary neo-fascist parties.

Northern League[edit]

In the beginning, Lega Nord was a populist movement rallying against the First Republic's corruption scandals, advocating the division between Northern and Southern Italy to save the hard-working North from the clutches of the mafioso South, the danger of foreign immigration, and "robber Rome". After 20 years in parliament alongside Berlusconi, and a comedic attempt at secession, a corruption scandal involving a party bureaucrat with Southern ties demolished the party's power and voter base.

After a few years out of the limelight, a younger and more internet-savvy leader (seems familiar?) called Matteo Salvini scrapped the party position of blaming Southerners for everything, choosing to target only the immigrants in an attempt to get votes outside the traditional League areas. It seems to be working, as the party managed to come third in the 2018 elections and formed an often conflicted government with the Five Star Movement.

Until August 2019, Salvini was deputy prime minister and Interior Minister (in charge of police and immigration), despite this he often acted as if he were the real PM instead, as he was always on TV speaking about policies that had nothing to do with his ministry, such as economy, foreign policy etc. etc. Lega Nord is currently the first party in the country according to opinion polls.

Salvini's focus appears to be keeping any immigrants out of Italy. In June 2019 he announced a ban on ships carrying immigrants from Italian waters, including banning boats that had rescued drowning immigrants from docking in Italian ports, to be punished by a fine of up to EU 50,000 or confiscation of the ship. This is in contravention of Italy's duty under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Montego Bay Convention).[3] Salvini claimed that because of his measures there had only been 2 deaths in the Mediterranean from January to May 2019 although the International Organization for Migration claimed there were more than 500 deaths.[4] In June 2019 the Sea Watch 3 docked in Lampedusa after 14 days at sea with dozens of migrants rescued from rubber dinghies, its second lengthy stand-off with Italian authorities in six month; Salvini threatened to send in the police.[5] Salvini also threatened to refuse to register or document migrants who arrived in Italy, which is contrary to EU agreements and rules.[6]

He has also condemned judges and prosecutors for pro-immigrant decisions, criticising judges in Bologna and Tuscany and trying to have their judgments overturned; Luigi Patronaggio, a prosecutor in Sicily, investigated the legality of Salvini's ban on migrant ships docking, and received death threats through the post.[4] When a judge (Gerardo Boragine) in 2018 acquitted protestors who threw eggs at Salvini, he attacked the judge on Facebook, resulting in death threats that required police protection.[4] He is also not exactly fond of Roma, referring to the need for an "answer to the Roma question" (echoing Nazi talk about "the Jewish question") and promising in 2018 to deport as many as possible from Italy.[7] He has repeatedly threatening to demolish camps, sending in the army to control them, and joking with anti-Roma protestors; for many years Italy has pursued a policy of keeping Roma in special camps rather than letting them live in normal social housing, but Salvini has intensified this discrimination.[8]

By August 2019, Salvini felt sufficiently confident to bring down the coalition with Five Star, hoping to provoke an election in which they would increase their number of seats; the Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned in response.[9]

This decision actually backfired, since the Five Star Movement formed an alliance with the centre-left Democratic Party and the Left-wing Free and Equals, forcing Salvini in opposition. Since then, the League has steadily declined in polls, despite remaining Italy's first party.

Whatever they're calling themselves now in the left[edit]

A galaxy of ever-changing groups, the Italian left is forever orphan of the Communist Party. Any attempt at reuniting them is rife with internal clashes between aspiring leaders and primadonnas, destined to splinter again in the short term. They share a soft border with the Democratic Party and are often blamed for the latter's defeats. They often fail to get past the 4% threshold.

The first of these, Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Rebirth), was a split from the PD’s predecessor; it collapsed from joining a centrist coalition in the 2000s. Left Ecology Freedom, the next up to bat, is part of the opposition and was led by Nichi Vendola, a self-professed catholic communist homosexual Southerner, short for devil to the Northern League. He recently went public about using a Californian surrogate mother to become a parent. In Italy, as in most of Europe, surrogacy is illegal, the same as stepchild adoptions in homosexual couples, therefore a massive backlash ensued. Left Ecology Freedom controls many important local authorities like Milan and Genoa, in a shaky coalition with the Democrats, which they oppose on a national level.

Left Ecology Freedom became SI, a more moderate party, and was joined by MDP, another PD split that consisted of centrists-turned-Corbynites to PD-lite types, including the ex-PD ex-PM. The two formed LeU (Free and EqualWikipedia), which only returned a few MPs in 2018. Aware of this party’s less-than savory elements, further-left socialists activists, social centers, and the left-libertarian Atheist Democracy party formed PaP (Power to the PeopleWikipedia), which gained no seats.

The main ancestors[edit]

Christian Democracy (DC)[edit]

Logo of the Christian Democracy

The descendents of the Italian People's Party, which was founded in 1919 by the Catholic Church in order to oppose the Socialists and spread the ideals of Christian democracy, they were officially founded in 1943. Although (by then’s standards) center-right and anti-Communist, they also pushed through legislation creating Italy’s welfare state (similarly to Germany’s CDU).

The White Whale (as they were nicknamed) led all governments from 1946 to 1992, with the not so tacit support of the US of A, and was killed by corruption scandals. The several factions that composed the party then split up and later merged into the respective center-left and center-right coalitions. You'll probably find some of them in every party today, but they're roughly split between PD and PDL, and that's probably why they sometimes look very similar.

There are always several small parties claiming to be the successor of the Christian Democrats, sporting the red cross on a white shield, and some of them are even in Parliament. Their legal successors were the refounded Italian People's Party, founded in 1994 and merged in 2002 into an ancestor of the Democratic Party.

Socialist Party (PSI)[edit]

PSI logo

The PSI was founded in 1892 by delegates of various trade unions and workers' parties. They suffered various splits throughout their history: the Filippo Turati-led Reformists, which got out after the Benito Mussolini and Costantino Lazzari-led Maximalists won in the 1912 convention, the losing faction becoming the Italian Reformist Socialist Party, which would later merge with another Reformist split (the United Socialist Party, PSU, founded 1922), the merged party (which adopted the name PSU) remerging back into the Socialists in 1930 (although not all Reformists were happy, some founding their own fringe parties which would merge with one another and later into the Liberals); the Mussolini-led pro-World War I faction which would later become the Fascists; the Communists in 1921; and the anti-communist Democratic Socialists in 1946, which consisted of many of the Reformists who had merged with the Socialists back in 1930.

They were actually pro-NATO and pro-USA for most of the Cold War (although they were in a coalition with the Communists in 1948). They actually remerged with the Democratic Socialists in the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) between 1963 and 1968, until a disastrous election demerged them yet again.

They became the junior partner in the coalition governments of the 1980s, and went down with the DC in the massive corruption scandals of the early 1990s, called Tangentopoli. Their last leader died in self-imposed exile in Tunisia, where he fled to avoid arrest.

As with the Christian Democrats, you can probably find them in any other party now, they're evenly split between right and left, and there have been many unsuccessful attempts at forming a successor party.

Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI)[edit]

PSDI logo

In 1947, PSDI split from the Socialists in opposition (led by Giuseppe Saragat and the sons of Giacomo Matteotti) to the 1948 coalition with the Communists, being originally known as the Socialist Party of Italian Workers (PSLI), changing their name after a 1951 merger with the smaller United Socialist Party (PSU, founded 1949, yet another Reformist split which adopted the name of an earlier, 1922, Reformist split). They consisted of many of the Reformists who had split from the Socialists in 1912 and merged with them back in 1930.

They actually remerged with the Socialists in the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) between 1963 and 1968, until a disastrous election demerged them yet again.

Also was a junior coalition partner in the 1980s, also went down with the DC in the 1990s, and you can also see them spread throughout the political spectrum, with there also being a claimed successor (founded 2004) with the same name and congresses numbered in succesion to the older party.

Communist Party (PCI)[edit]

Partito Comunista Italiano

The largest communist party in Western Europe, another split of the Socialists (founded 1921), the PCI actually had a decent shot at winning a majority early in the history of the republic when in a coalition with the socialists. Stalin and a major red scare (luckily?) prevented that.

After destalinization in the Soviet Union, the party gradually shifted away from Moscow, but you can still dig up quotes from them in support of the invasion of Hungary, as opponents of post-communists often do. They were still a top electoral force in Italian politics and were the second-largest party for a while. At the end of the 1970s, when the country was deadlocked in an armed struggle between opposing terror groups, the party came close to forming a coalition with the Christian Democrats. When the Berlin Wall came down, they split up over the issue of keeping the word "communist" or not.

Polarization during the 1990s and simplistic historical revisionism, both for and against PCI, recently represented the party as the sole political force behind the partisan movement that fought the German invaders and the fascist collaborators between 1943 and 1945. In reality, the partisans came in all sorts, ex-soldiers, loyalist monarchists, communists, socialists, Christian democrats, liberals (which in Italy means moderate right-wing), and republicans (which in Italy meant simply "for the abolition of monarchy and the creation of a republic"). Nonetheless, official public celebrations of the partisans are nowadays considered to be strictly a left-wing thing, with center and right-wing politicians sometimes distancing themselves in order to gain votes elsewhere.

Italian Social Movement (MSI)[edit]

Flag of Italian Social Movement

The name was a not so subtle nod to the Italian Social Republic, the Nazi puppet state formed in Northern Italy after the country surrendered to the Allies in 1943. The MSI was formed in 1946 by fascists, monarchists and nostalgics that wanted to avoid the constitutional ban on the resurgence of the Fascist Party (that would be either or both the National Fascist Party [PNF, founded 1921, with its ancestors founded 1910 - the Italian Nationalist Association {ANI} - and 1914 - the various fascios which lent their name to fascism and which were yet another split of the Socialists, those who supported Italy's entry in World War I, led by Mussolini, as well as various nationalist and trade unionist ideologues which had influenced one another and blend their ideologies into national syndicalism, which would influence both the ANI and the fascios] and its successor, the Republican Fascist Party [PFR, founded 1943]). The attempts by the Christian Democrats to include them into a coalition government were always met by public uproar.

In the early 1990s, they reformed into a more family-friendly shape, losing some of the hardliners, and finally managing to become part of a government. Nowadays they're mostly mixed within the main right and center-right parties.

Radical Party (PR)[edit]

The oddball party of the First Republic, founded 1956 as a split from the Liberals, this little group often shared views with both the countercultural left and the moderate right, because they believed both in economic liberalism and in social liberalism, along with the civil rights of women and disabled people. Often seen engaging in very theatrical hunger and thirst strikes. Took charge of the movement in favour of divorce and abortion, at a time when the official left was scared and deemed the matters to be too controversial.

They claimed ideological descent from an older Radical Party and were ideologically close to the Resistance group Action Party (PdA)/Justice and Freedom.

Now mostly disappeared due to old age of the leaders, although they're still around, in the fringes. Contrary to popular opinion, drinking your own urine to survive thirst strikes is not good for you, or even for your party.

Liberal Party (PLI)[edit]

Logo of PLI

The party with the oldest roots, they based their ideology in that of the old pre-wars liberal-conservative elites which had unified Italy, the Historical Right,Wikipedia which didn't differ that much from their opposition, the Historical Left.Wikipedia

The adoption of universal suffrage and proportional representation had dampered their popularity while making Italian politics a chaotic polarized mess, and it was in 1922 that they decided to organize themselves into a formal party. The same year deciding to enter a coalition with the fascists, they were banned by Mussolini in 1925, with liberal elites being rewarded with prestigious but powerless offices.

They were refounded by antifascist Benedetto Croce in 1943. They were economically the rightmost party (although they did have periods of moderation), so the Radicals split from them in 1956. Also joined the DC-led coalitions in the 1980s, also fell from grace in the 90s, their ideological descendents are also seen spread in the political spectrum, and there is also a claimed descendent with the same name, founded 1997.

Republican Party (PRI)[edit]

They were the descendents of a pro-unification lineage which was pro-democracy, radical, republican, anti-clerical and was against unification by Piedmont conquesting the other parts of Italy (i.e. as it eventually happened), often known as the Historical Far-Left,Wikipedia which would abstain from politics in the new country. By 1880, these ideologues stopped abstaining and in 1895 formally founded the party. They found allies in the Socialists and the (original) Radicals.

After the wars, they would gradually decline, were banned by the fascists in 1925, and only after World War II, when Italy was declared a republic, did they participate in governments. These included, as predictible, the 1980s coalition governments, and... guess what?... they also fell in the 1990s corruption scandals.

Unlike the other parties, they still exist in their original form, albeit they're nobodies by this point. Their supporters, like those of the other dead parties, can be found around the spectrum. There have been various attempts at propping up the relevance of the party's corpse by participating in various coalitions, in which they gained a number of seats, although they currently have none and participate in none.

See also[edit]