Civic Choice

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Civic Choice
Scelta Civica
Secretary vacant
President Renato Balduzzi (acting)
Founded 4 January 2013
Women's wing Civiche
Ideology Liberalism[1]
Political position Centre
Colours Blue
Chamber of Deputies
27 / 630
Senate
7 / 315
European Parliament
0 / 73
Website
www.sceltacivica.it
Politics of Italy
Political parties
Elections

Civic Choice (Italian: Scelta Civica, SC) is a liberal[1] and centrist political party in Italy founded by Mario Monti.

The party was formed in the run-up of the 2013 general election to support the outgoing Prime Minister Monti and continue his political agenda.[2] In the election SC was part of a centrist coalition named With Monti for Italy,[3][citation needed] along with Union of the Centre of Pier Ferdinando Casini and Future and Freedom of Gianfranco Fini.[4]

Since April 2013 SC has been part of the grand coalition government led by Enrico Letta of the Democratic Party. In February 2014 after Letta's resignation, Civic Choice supported the new cabinet of Matteo Renzi.

History[edit]

Foundation and composition[edit]

In order to compete in the upcoming general election, on 4 January 2013 technocratic Prime Minister Mario Monti launched SC as an electoral list of the "civil society" to implement his "agenda". It was announced that SC would be part of the With Monti for Italy (CMI) coalition, alongside the Union of the Centre (UdC) and Future and Freedom (FLI).

At its beginnings SC was composed of several groups and individuals, who were represented in the party's lists:[5]

2013 general election and aftermath[edit]

In the 2013 general election SC obtained 8.3% of the vote, 37 deputies (in its own lists) and 15 senators (within CMI).[23] After the election, SC deputies and senators formed joint groups named "Civic Choice", including also UdC and FLI MPs, in both houses of Parliament.

In late April the party joined Enrico Letta's grand coalition government, which included three SC leading members: Mario Mauro as minister of Defence, Enzo Moavero Milanesi as minister of European Affairs and Carlo Calenda as deputy minister of Economic Development.

Also the party began to take shape: on 13 March Monti, who replaced Andrea Riccardi as provisional president, appointed Andrea Olivero as coordinator; on 16 May Monti was unanimously elected president by the party's assembly;[24] on 23 May the leadership proposed by Monti was approved with only three abstentions.[25] In the event Olivero was confirmed coordinator, Alberto Bombassei was appointed first vice president, and Benedetto Della Vedova, a former member of the Italian Radicals, Forza Italia, the PdL and finally FLI, was chosen as spokesperson. The rest of the leadership was composed mainly by former Democrats: Maria Paola Merloni (vice president), Lorenzo Dellai (party leader in the Chamber of Deputies), Gianluca Susta (party leader in the Senate), Andrea Causin (organizational secretary), Pietro Ichino (platform coordinator) and Gregorio Gitti (local structures' coordinator). No member of Future Italy, a liberal[26] think tank, took a leading role.

Since then, the party was often riven by internal disputes. Monti twice presented (and later retracted) his resignation from the position of SC party president.[27][28] In late July he clashed with the "Catholic" wing of the party, especially with Olivero, whom he accused of being too close to the UdC (whose deputies and senators were part of SC's parliamentary groups).[29][30][31] Also Future Italy, seemed to have little patience with the "Catholic" wing and even to be willing to distance from the party.[32][33]

In this phase, an issue which divided SC was the debate on European party affiliation. Some, including the party's "Catholics", former members of PdL and Monti himself,[34] favoured joining the European People's Party (EPP), while others, notably those close to Future Italy, Benedetto Della Vedova and Linda Lanzillotta, preferred the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party.[35][36] It later emerged that Monti had favoured the EPP and had consequently started talks with the EPP's leadership in order to appease the party's Christian democrats led by Mauro and avoid a split.[37]

Monti's resignation and party's break-up[edit]

On 17 October 2013 Monti resigned as president of SC and was replaced by his deputy Alberto Bombassei as acting president. Monti cited his disagreement with 12 senators (out of 20), including Mario Mauro, Andrea Olivero, Gabriele Albertini, Pier Ferdinando Casini (UdC leader), Maria Paola Merloni, Luigi Marino and Lucio Romano. Particularly, Monti criticized Mauro's line of unconditioned support to the government and of transforming SC in a larger centre-right political party, open to the PdL.[37][38][39] One of the 12 senators, Tito Di Maggio, was even unveiled as PdL–SC–UdC joint candidate for President in Basilicata.[40]

After Monti's abrupt departure, spokesperson Benedetto Della Vedova, who represented the liberal wing of the party (including Pietro Ichino, Gianluca Susta, Linda Lanzillotta, etc.),[41][42] announced that SC would "go on" as a "liberal, people's, reform and European party"[39] and would never form a partnership with the PdL.[43] Lanzillotta remarked that "Italy needs a liberal, people's, deeply reform-minded and Europeanist party"[44] and that "we did not take votes for giving life to a Catholic party and being part of a centre-right still led by Berlusconi.[45] For his part, during a TV interview, Monti stated that "my and SC's commitment does not end now" and that "many tell me they did not vote for SC for the specific reason that we were with president Casini; they might have been right".[46]

On 22 October the executive committee voted in favour of the separation from the UdC.[47] The "popular" majority of SC's parliamentary group in the Senate responded by dismissing Susta as floor leader,[48][49] while Olivero stated that the Populars aimed at forming a party modelled on Germany's Christian Democratic Union.[42] On 6 November the SC senatorial group, dominated by Populars, elected L. Romano as new floor leader; the decision was not endorsed by Bombassei[50] and was opposed by Montiani and liberals, who talked about dismissing Lorenzo Dellai from leader in the Chamber as retaliation.[51][52]

On 15 November the Populars walked away from the party's national assembly and left the party altogether. The assembly elected Bombassei president and appointed Stefania Giannini secretary.[53][54][55] On 23 November the Populars, led by Mauro, Dellai and Olivero, launched Populars for Italy (PpI).[56] On 10 December the party's break-up was effective in Parliament: 20 deputies (led by Dellai) and 12 senators (led by L. Romano) launched For Italy (PI) groups, while 26 deputies (led by Andrea Romano) and 8 senators (led by Susta) confirmed their allegiance to SC. All the UdC MPs but one joined PI.[57][58]

From the centre to Renzi[edit]

After Matteo Renzi's election as secretary of the Democratic Party (PD) in December, SC started to approach the centre-left, while ruling out any alliance with the centre-right, once again led by Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia. SC had long expressed a certain affinity for Renzi,[59][60] and, in early February 2014, Stefania Giannini finally declared that she saw "its party more as the right-wing of a reformed and reforming left than the left-wing of a right that still has in Berlusconi its representative".[61] Subsequently, SC was a keen supporter of the replacement of Enrico Letta with Renzi.[62][63]

On 22 February 2014 the Renzi Cabinet was sworn in with Giannini, a university professor, as minister of Education.[64]

On 4 March it was announced that SC would run in the 2014 European Parliament election within European Choice (SE), an electoral list including, among others, Democratic Centre, Act to Stop the Decline and the Italian Liberal Party.[65][66] Members of SC topped SE's slates in two of five constituencies.[67][68] The decision to side with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Party, cherished by Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE's candidate for President of the European Commission) and Romano Prodi,[69][70] prompted the resignation of Andrea Causin, one of SC's few remaining Christian democrats, from organizational secretary.[71]

On 10 April Bombassei resigned as president of the party, citing his disagreement with the party's political re-positionment (no longer a third-party force, but a close ally of Renzi's PD, under Giannini's leadership), the change in party's identity and "prevailing personal ambitions".[72]

On election day SC/SE received just 0.7% of the vote and failed to return any MEPs. Consequently, Giannini resigned from secretary.[73][74][75]

Leadership[edit]

Electoral results[edit]

Italian Parliament[edit]

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2013 2,824,001 (#4) 8.3
37 / 630
Mario Monti
Senate of the Republic
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2013 2,797,486 (#4) 9.1
19 / 315
Mario Monti

European Parliament[edit]

European Parliament
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2014 196,157 (#9) 0.7
0 / 73
Stefania Giannini

References[edit]

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