Italian Democratic Socialist Party

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For the modern-day party with the identical name, see Italian Democratic Socialist Party (2004).
Italian Democratic Socialist Party
Founder Giuseppe Saragat
Founded 11 January 1947
Dissolved 10 May 1998
Split from Italian Socialist Party
Merged into Italian Democratic Socialists
Headquarters Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 229 00186 Rome
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left[1][3] to Centre[1]
International affiliation Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament group Party of European Socialists
Politics of Italy
Political parties

The Italian Democratic Socialist Party (Italian: Partito Socialista Democratico Italiano, PSDI) was a minor social-democratic political party in Italy. The PSDI, before the 1990s decline in votes and members, had been an important force in Italian politics, being the longest serving partner in government for Christian Democracy. Longstanding PSDI leader Giuseppe Saragat served as President of the Italian Republic from 1964 to 1971.


The years of the First Republic[edit]

The party was founded as the Socialist Party of Italian Workers (Italian: Partito Socialista dei Lavoratori Italiani, PSLI) in 1947 by a splinter group of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), due to the decision of the latter to join the Italian Communist Party (PCI) in the Popular Democratic Front's electoral list for the 1948 general election.

The split, led by Giuseppe Saragat and the sons of Giacomo Matteotti, took the name of scissione di Palazzo Barberini from the name of a palace in Rome where it took place. In 1952, the party ultimately became the Italian Democratic Socialist Party, after joining forces with the smaller United Socialist Party in 1951.

From 1949 to 1965 members of the PSDI held the presidency of the Istituto Nazionale di Previdenza Sociale (INPS).[4]

In 1963 the party joined PSI to form the Unified Socialist Party, but in 1968, after a dismaying result at the general election, it left the new party, returning to the PSDI name in 1971.

In 1980 the party joined Christian Democracy, the Italian Socialist Party, the Italian Republican Party and the Italian Liberal Party in the five-party coalition (Pentapartito) which ruled the country until 1994 (since 1991 without the Republicans). However the party's role in the coalition was minimal and was over-shadowed by the more powerful PSI.

The PSDI was a member of Socialist International and the Party of European Socialists, and its elected representation in the European parliament from 1979 until 1994 sat as part of the Socialist Group.[5][6][7]

Decline and re-foundation[edit]

PSDI was involved in the corruption scandals known as Tangentopoli and almost disappeared from the political scene. The 1994 general election resulted in an almost overnight decline of the Pentapartito coalition parties and the rise of Silvio Berlusconi-led Forza Italia, which absorbed many PSDI voters. In January 1995 Gian Franco Schietroma was elected national secretary of the party replacing Enrico Ferri, who wanted to join the centre-right Pole of Freedoms. The followers of Ferri left and established the European Liberal Social Democracy and joined the centre-right Christian Democratic Centre.

In 1998 the party, led by Schietroma, finally merged with the Italian Socialists, one of the heirs of PSI, to form the Italian Democratic Socialists. By then most members and voters of the party have joined other parties: Forza Italia (as Carlo Vizzini, party leader in 1992–1993), the Christian Democratic Centre (as Enrico Ferri, party leader in 1993–1995) and The Democrats (as Franco Bruno).

The party was re-established in 2004 with the same name, "Italian Democratic Socialist Party", as the continuation of the party of Saragat, so that the new PSDI numbers its congresses in perfect continuity with the late PSDI.

Popular support[edit]

Historical logo.

The PSDI had its best result at its first appareance in the 1948 general election, when it gained 7.1% of the vote. In that occasion the party was successful in stealing many votes from the Italian Socialist Party, which was damaged by the split as well as by the alliance with the Italian Communist Party in the Popular Democratic Front. The PSDI found its heartlands in Northern Italy: 12.9% in the Province of Torino, 11.9% in Cuneo, 10.6% in Milan, 13.9% in Sondrio, 12.6% in Treviso, 15.9% in Belluno, and 14.9% in Udine.[8]

From 1953 to 1987 the party's support was around 4-5%, with the sole exception of 1963, when it gained 6.1%. In the 1992 general election, the last before Tangentopoli, the PSDI won just 2.7%. The party maintained for decades its strongholds in the North-West and North-East, but since the 1960s it started to gain support in Southern Italy. By 1987 the party's strongholds had moved South, especially Apulia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily,[9] similarly to what also the other parties of Pentapartito (Christian Democrats, Socialists, Republicans and Liberals) were experiencing. This was partly due to the growth of regionalist parties in the North (united in Lega Nord since 1991).

After Tangentopoli, Mani pulite and subsequent political crisis, the PSDI has almost disappeared electorally, although it retains some support locally in the South, especially in Apulia.



  1. ^ a b c "Il punto sull'attivita' e sulla collocazione politica del PSDI; la olidarieta' del PSDI al digiuno di Marco Pannella contro la disinformazione della RAI in particolar modo sui 13 referendum". RadioRadicale (in Italian). 21 January 1994. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "AffarInternazionali". Affarinternazionali. 16 February 2009. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Di Alberto Stabile (1984-05-01). "Nicolazzi, L' Anti-Longo Sogna Per Il Psdi Un Futuro A Sinistra". La Repubblica (in Italian). Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  4. ^ A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988 by Paul Ginsborg
  5. ^ "Parlement Européen 1979". Europe-politique. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Parlement Européen 1984". Europe-politique. 17 February 2007. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Parlement Européen 1989". Europe-politique. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ "Ministero dell'Interno. Archivio Storico delle Elezioni". Elezionistorico. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 

External links[edit]