Democrats of the Left
|Democrats of the Left|
|Democratici di Sinistra|
|Former Secretaries||Massimo D'Alema
|President||Massimo D'Alema (1998-2007)|
|Founded||13 February 1998|
|Dissolved||14 October 2007|
|Preceded by||Democratic Party of the Left|
|Merged into||Democratic Party|
|Headquarters||Via Palermo 12, Rome|
|Political position||Centre-left to Left-wing|
|National affiliation||The Olive Tree
|International affiliation||Socialist International|
|European affiliation||Party of European Socialists|
|European Parliament group||Party of European Socialists|
|Politics of Italy
The Democrats of the Left (Italian: Democratici di Sinistra, DS) was a social-democratic political party in Italy. Part of The Olive Tree political and electoral coalition, on 14 October 2007 DS merged with Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy and a number of centrist and leftist groups to form the Democratic Party. Its leaders were Piero Fassino, national secretary, and Massimo D'Alema, president.
The Democrats of the Left developed from the Democratic Party of the Left (Partito Democratico della Sinistra, PDS), which in turn was a reshaping of the Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista Italiano, PCI) into a democratic socialist party. Under the leadership of Massimo D'Alema, the party merged with minor like-minded others movements (Labour Federation, Social Christians, Republican Left, Unitarian Communists, Reformists for Europe and Democratic Federation), and took the name Democrats of the Left (Democratici di Sinistra, DS), removing the hammer and sickle from its symbol and substituting it with the red rose of the Party of European Socialists.
Massimo D'Alema became Prime Minister of Italy in October 1998, the first ex-Communist to hold the post. He was replaced as the leader of DS by Walter Veltroni. During the party's first national congress in January 2000, Veltroni received the support of the 79.9% of delegates, while the left wing of the party, at the time led by three women (Anna Finocchiaro, Fulvia Bandoli and Pasqualina Napoletano), had the support of 20.1% of delegates.
Leadership of Piero Fassino
The last secretary of the party was Piero Fassino, elected with 61.8% of party members' votes during the second national congress in November 2001. Piero Fassino was the candidate of a mainstream Third Way tendency. The candidacy of Giovanni Berlinguer, endorsed by left-wingers, democratic socialists and the Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) trade union, gained 34.1% of party members votes. The right wing of the party, led by Enrico Morando, received 4.1%.
Piero Fassino was re-elected during the third national congress, in February 2005 with 79.1% of party members' votes. No other candidates stood, but left-wing candidates ran for congressional delegates and received 14.6% of party members votes won by the DS Left-wing – Returning to win, 4.0% by the DS Left-wing for Socialism and 2.4% by the Ecologist Left.
2006 general election
In the 2006 general election, held on April 9 and April 10, 2006, the Democrats of the Left endorsed the candidacy of Romano Prodi as Prime Minister of Italy. DS presented their symbol for the Senate and ran under the Olive Tree symbol for the Chamber, together with Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy (DL) and the European Republicans Movement. The party achieved a 17.17% in the Senate (62 senators) and the Olive Tree reached a 31.20% in the Chamber (220 deputies), more than the sum of its components in the Senate. This, and the narrow margin gained on the centre-right House of Freedoms coalition, prompted a discussion on the party's future. As of 2006[update] the party leadership was committed to a future merger with DL, eventually creating the Democratic Party the following year.
Nine Ministers of the Prodi II Cabinet were affiliated to the Democrats of the Left, including the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Massimo D'Alema. The current President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano, elected on 10 May 2006, is also a former DS member (as usual, although not mandatory, he renounced his party affiliation before being sworn in, because the office he was going to assume is considered to be above party politics).
Fourth national congress and split
The fourth national congress was held from 19 to 21 April 2007. During local congresses, Piero Fassino and his motion named For the Democratic Party, backed by the majority of the leading members of the party, such as D'Alema, Pier Luigi Bersani and Antonio Bassolino, received the support of 75.6% of party members. The motion was clearly in support of the Democratic Party project.
The left-wing of Fabio Mussi, Cesare Salvi, Fulvia Bandoli and Valdo Spini (To the Left. For European Socialism), joint-group of members of DS Left-wing – Returning to win, DS Left-wing for Socialism, some affiliates to the Ecologist Left and most Labourites – Liberal Socialists scored 15.0%; this motion was instead opposed to the Democratic Party. All members supportive of this group later founded a new movement, Democratic Left, which aimed to unite the heterogeneous Italian left-wing, from direct descendents of the Italian Socialist Party to the euro-communist tendencies best represented in Italy by the Communist Refoundation Party.
A third motion, named For a New, Democratic and Socialist Party and signed by Gavino Angius, Mauro Zani and originally also by Giuseppe Caldarola took 9.3% of party members votes. This group, mainly composed of former supporters of D'Alema and Fassino (gathered in the new Socialists and Europeans faction), and some left-wingers and environmentalists, supported the creation of a new party only within the Party of European Socialists and opposed the proposal of the Democratic Party (perceived as a mere addition of DS and DL with no reference at all to socialism). Several of its members and supporters, including Angius, later decided to leave the party to join the Democratic Left movement, whereas several others, including Zani, preferred to stay within the Democrats of the Left.
Inside the party were several organised political tendency associations. Inside the party, there was often a somewhat simplistic distinction between reformists (riformisti) and radicals (radicali or massimalisti), indicating respectively the mainstream or the left-wing area, formerly known as Correntone.
The core of the social-democratic party majority wasn't related to a specific tendency association, although several smaller movements, splits of former centrist or centre-left Italian parties, related to it. These were the Labourites – Liberal Socialists (Laburisti – Socialisti Liberali), Reformist Europe (Europa Riformista) and the Sicilian Reformist Movement (Movimento Riformista) all from the Italian Socialist Party, the Social Christians (Cristiano Sociali) from the left-wing of Christian Democracy, the Republican Left (Sinistra Repubblicana) from the left-wing of the Italian Republican Party and the Liberal Left (Sinistra Liberale) from the left wing of the Italian Liberal Party.
On the right wing the Liberal association had a moderate Third Way or radical centre political agenda. This faction was included in the party majority in later years, while a dissident group left it, in opposition to the creation of the Democratic Party, and formed a new faction, named Socialists and Europeans.
Before the 2007 convention, the left-wing opposition was led by the DS Left-wing-Returning to win (Sinistra DS-Per tornare a vincere), a left-wing democratic socialist tendency, with other smaller groups including DS Left-wing for Socialism (Sinistra DS per il Socialismo), left-wing democratic socialists and the Ecologist Left (Sinistra Ecologista), left-wing environmentalists. As most of their members left the party in refusal of the Democratic Party foundation, their subsequent composition and weight was unclear.
Several personalities formerly inside or close to the left-wing area of the party, as Pietro Folena, Pietro Ingrao and Achille Occhetto approached or joined the Communist Refoundation Party which, from its sixth congress held in January 2005, was moving towards a more heterogeneous, non-sectarian and strongly pacifist kind of left-wing party.
The electoral results of the Democrats of the Left (Democratic Party of the Left until 1998) in the 10 most populated regions of Italy are shown in the table below. The result for the 2006 general election refers to the election for the Senate, indeed DS contested the election for the Chamber of Deputies in a joint-list with DL.
|1994 general||1995 regional||1996 general||1999 European||2000 regional||2001 general||2004 European||2005 regional||2006 general|
|Lombardy||13.0||16.5||15.1||12.9||with Ulivo||11.7||with Ulivo||with Ulivo||12.4|
|Veneto||12.2||16.5||11.8||11.1||12.3||10.7||with Ulivo||with Ulivo||11.5|
|Emilia-Romagna||36.6||43.0||35.7||32.8||36.2||28.8||with Ulivo||with Ulivo||30.6|
|Tuscany||33.7||40.9||34.8||31.9||36.4||30.9||with Ulivo||with Ulivo||29.8|
|Lazio||23.3||27.2||23.5||18.4||20.0||17.3||with Ulivo||with Ulivo||19.2|
|Sicily||16.5||14.1 (1996)||16.6||12.0||10.1 (2001)||10.3||with Ulivo||14.0 (2006)||11.4|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Election year||# of
| % of
overall seats won
|2006||with Ulivo (#1)||–||14||
|Senate of the Republic|
|Election year||# of
| % of
overall seats won
|2001||with Ulivo (#2)||–||
|Election year||# of
| % of
overall seats won
|2004||with Ulivo (#1)||–||
- Secretary: Massimo D'Alema (1998), Walter Veltroni (1998–2001), Piero Fassino (2001–2007)
- Coordinator: Marco Minniti (1998), Pietro Folena (1998–2001), Vannino Chiti (2001–2004), Vannino Chiti / Maurizio Migliavacca (2004–2006), Maurizio Migliavacca (2006–2007)
- Organizational Secretary: Pietro Folena (1998), Franco Passuello (1998–2001), Maurizio Migliavacca (2001–2004), Marina Sereni (2004–2006), Andrea Orlando (2006–2007)
- President: Massimo D'Alema (2000–2007)
- Party Leader in the Chamber of Deputies: Fabio Mussi (1998–2001), Luciano Violante (2001–2006), Marina Sereni (deputy-leader of the Olive Tree's group, 2006–2007)
- Party Leader in the Senate: Gavino Angius (1998–2006), Anna Finocchiaro (leader of the Olive Tree's group, 2006–2007)
- Party Leader in the European Parliament: Renzo Imbeni (1998–1999), Pasqualina Napoletano (1999–2004), Nicola Zingaretti (2004–2006), Giovanni Pittella (2006–2009)
- Corriere della Sera, 18 April 2007
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