Historical Left

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Historical Left
Leader Agostino Depretis
Benedetto Cairoli
Francesco Crispi
Founded 1849
Dissolved 1900 (de facto)
Succeeded by Liberal Party
Ideology Liberalism
Political position Centrism
Politics of Italy
Political parties

The Historical Left (Sinistra Storica), officially known as The Left (La Sinistra), was a Liberal, Constitutional, and Reformist parliamentary group in Italy during the second half of the 19th century. It was founded in 1849 as opposition to the right-wing government of Massimo d'Azeglio; it was not a structured party, but simply an opposition formed both by radical politicians and moderate supporters of the existing constitutional monarchy, with no relevant differences with the ruling Historical Right.[1]


From 1849 to 1876, the Historical Left remained the parliamentary opposition, even during the short cabinets of Leftist Urbano Rattazzi which were supported only by Independent politicians. In 1876, the Left leader Agostino Depretis was appointed Prime Minister after the trahison of some Rightist MPs who changed sides, and lately the coalition won the election with a large majority. Benedetto Cairoli and Francesco Crispi succeeded to Depretis as head of the government. The Left supported protectionism and, in foreign relations, left the alliance with France joining the Triple Alliance with Germany and former archrival Austria.[2]

In 1892, the new leader of the Left, Giovanni Giolitti, won the election and he was nominated Prime Minister; Giolitti ruled at times up to 1921 with the support of both the coalitions, in a situation of huge parliamentary corruption. Giolitti has been the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of Italy. In the early 20th century, the Left and the Right merged in a single centrist and Liberal coalition which largely dominated the Italian Parliament against two smaller opposition: The Clericals, composed by some Vatican-oriented politicians, and The Extreme, formed by the socialist faction which represented a real left in a present-day concept.