Italian Republican Party

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Italian Republican Party
Secretary Saverio Collura
(acting, coordinator)
President Francesco Nucara[1]
Founded 21 April 1895
Headquarters corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 326
00186 Rome
Newspaper La Voce Repubblicana
Membership  (2005) 12,000[2]
max: 108,589 (1978)[3]
Ideology 1895–1946:
Social liberalism
Political position 1895–1946:
Left-wing to Centre-left[5]
National affiliation Pentapartito (1980–1991)[6]
Pact for Italy (1994)
L'Ulivo (1996–2000)
House of Freedoms (2000–2008)
International affiliation none
European affiliation European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (1976–2010)
European Parliament group ELDR Group (1979–2004)
Chamber of Deputies
0 / 630
0 / 315
European Parliament
0 / 73
Politics of Italy
Political parties

The Italian Republican Party (Partito Repubblicano Italiano, PRI) is a liberal[7] and social-liberal[8] political party in Italy.

The PRI is a party with old roots that originally took a left-wing position, claiming descent from the political thought of Giuseppe Mazzini. The party was a member of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party until 2010.


Early times[edit]

The Italian Republican Party (PRI) traces its origins from the time of Italian unification and, more specifically, to the democratic-republican wing represented by figures such as Giuseppe Mazzini, Carlo Cattaneo and Carlo Pisacane. They were against the so-called piemontesizzazione of Italy, meaning the conquest by war of the Kingdom of Sardinia (Piedmont) of the rest of Italy. After the latter was unified under the Savoy kings, following the political lines of moderates such as Camillo Benso di Cavour, the Republicans remained aside from the political life of the new country, proclaiming their abstention from elections. They however created several democratic movements.

In 1871 Mazzini founded the Patto di fratellanza fra le società operaie ("brotherhood pact of the workers' societies"); however, Mazzini's death the following year and internationalism put the Republicans in a difficult position. Their power base was limited to Romagna, Umbria, Marche, the Tuscan littoral and Lazio.

In occasion of the 1880 general election, the Republicans chose to abandon abstention and participate. At the time their ranks included both members of the middle class, such as Giovanni Bovio, Arcangelo Ghisleri and Napoleone Colajanni, and of the working class, such as Valentino Armirotti. The PRI was officially founded in 1895.

By the end of the century the party was allied with the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and the Radical Party, participating in the administration of large cities including Milan, Florence and Rome.

Early 20th century and Fascism[edit]

At the outbreak of World War I the PRI sided with interventionists, aiming at supporting France, considered the motherland of human rights, and annexing Trento and Trieste (then part of Austria-Hungary). After the end of the conflict, the party tried to form an alliance with other left-wing parties, but the attempt failed, as the PSI at the time was strongly influenced by its "maximalist" (radical) wing. In 1921 Pietro Nenni left the PRI to become a leader of the PSI. In the 1920s the rise of the National Fascist Party caused the collapse of all Italian left-wing parties, including the PRI, which was banned in 1926.

Numerous members of the party were arrested, confined or exiled and the PRI collaborated to the anti-Fascist struggle. In 1927 it joined the Concentrazione Antifascista. It also participated in the Spanish Civil War. In 1940 the German occupation of France, where numerous Republican members were refugees, put the party in difficulty. During the armed resistance against the German occupation of Italy from 1943, PRI members were part of the provincial Comitati di Liberazione Nazionale ("National Liberation Committees", CLN), but did not participate to the national CLN, as they did not want to collaborate with Italian monarchists, who had supported the rise of Fascism.

Post-World War II[edit]

In 1946 the PRI gained 4.4% of the popular vote in the election for a Constituent Assembly, confirming its traditional strongholds; it was however very weak, if compared to Christian Democracy (DC) and the Italian Communist Party (PCI). After that a ballot on the same day abolished monarchy in Italy, the PRI declared itself available to take a role in the government of Italy, entering the second government of Alcide De Gasperi. In late 1946 Ugo La Malfa and Ferruccio Parri, formerly members of the Action Party, moved to the PRI. La Malfa would be appointed as minister in several of the following governments.

The 19th congress of the party, held in 1947, saw two main inner trends: one, represented by the national secretary Randolfo Pacciardi, supported an alliance with the PCI; the other, led by Giovanni Conti and Cipriano Facchinetti, considered the PCI the cause of the government's lack of efficiency. The latter was to prevail. Carlo Sforza, a Republican, was Minister of Foreign Affairs in De Gasperi's third government, although only as an independent. Sforza signed the Treaty of peace and contributed to the entrance of Italy into the Marshall Plan, NATO and the Council of Europe. The exclusion of left-wing parties from the government in 1947 led the PRI to join the fourth government of De Gasperi. Pacciardi, confirmed as party's secretary, refused however to take a position as minister. Later, as the PCI moved nearer to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, he changed his mind and accepted to became Deputy Prime Minister.

The 1948 general election saw PRI as a solid ally of DC but also a reduction of the party's share to 2.5%. In the following years the strongest party faction was that of La Malfa, who refused to participate to the DC-led governments until 1962.

In 1963 the party voted in favour of the first centre-left government in Italy led by Aldo Moro. Pacciardi, who had voted against, was expelled and founded a separate movement, Democratic Union for the New Republic, whose electoral result were disappointing and whose members returned into the PRI's fold in 1968. La Malfa was elected national secretary in 1965. The alliance with DC ended in 1974, when the Republicans left over disagreements on budgetary policies.

The Pentapartito age[edit]

In 1979 La Malfa received by President Sandro Pertini the mandate to form a new government. It was the first time for a non-DC member since the Italian Republic had been created. The attempt failed and a new government led by Giulio Andreotti was formed, with La Malfa as Deputy Prime Minister. The Republican leader suddenly died five days later. In September the PRI chose Giovanni Spadolini as national secretary and Bruno Visentini as president. The following twelve years, first under Spadolini and then under La Malfa's son Giorgio, saw the PRI as a stable member of the so-called Pentapartito, an alliance between DC, the PSI, the PRI, the Italian Liberal Party (PLI) and the Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI) which governed Italy from 1983 to 1991. The PRI abandoned the coalition in 1991 in disagreement with the "Mammì bill" (named after Oscar Mammì, a Republican) on telecommunications.

In June 1981 Spadolini became Prime Minister of Italy, the first non-Christian Democrat to do so following 1945. Under Spadolini, an urgent decree outlawing all secret lodges, such as Propaganda Due (which included numerous members of previous governments and of military forces), was approved. Spadolini's second government fell in November 1983 due to a strife between Beniamino Andreatta (DC) and Rino Formica, ministers of the Treasury and Finances respectively.

At the 1983 general election the PRI gained its best result ever (5.1%) and became the third largest party, after DC and PCI, in several Italian cities, notably including Turin. Spadolini was Minister of Defence from 1983 to 1987, under Bettino Craxi (PSI). Following the 1987 general election, Spadolini was elected president of the Italian Senate, an office he would retain until 1994, and was replaced by Giorgio La Malfa as party leader.


The early-1990s Tangentopoli scandals destroyed the party which fell under 1% of the vote, making it dependent on alliances with other parties to survive under the new electoral system based on plurality. In 1992–1994 the PRI lost most of its voters and members. The party was divided in three groups: one led by Giorgio La Malfa joined the Pact for Italy (Patto), a second one led by Luciana Sbarbati joined Democratic Alliance (AD) and a third group left the party and formed Republican Left (SR). At the 1994 general election some PRI members, including Sbarbati, were elected to the Italian Parliament from the list of AD, while others, including Carla Mazzuca, were elected with Patto Segni. At that time the party seemed quite finished.[9]

Many Republicans, including Jas Gawronski, Guglielmo Castagnetti, Alberto Zorzoli, Luigi Casero, Denis Verdini, Piergiorgio Massidda and Mario Pescante, left the PRI in order to join Forza Italia. Others, mostly affiliated to SR, including Giorgio Bogi, Stefano Passigli, Giuseppe Ayala, Andrea Manzella and Adolfo Battaglia, approached with the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) and finally merged into the Democrats of the Left (DS) in 1998. Others, notably including Enzo Bianco and Antonio Maccanico, joined Democratic Union (UD), The Democrats (Dem) and finally Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy (DL).

The party continued to exist under the leadership of La Malfa, who had been elected MEP for the ELDR Group at the 1994 European Parliament election and who worked hard to re-organise the party, welcoming back people such as Sbarbati who had left it in the wake of the 1994 general election.

Prodi to Berlusconi[edit]

From 1996 to 2001 the PRI was part of The Olive Tree centre-left coalition led by Romano Prodi. At the 1996 general election the party elected two deputies (Giorgio La Malfa and Luciana Sbarbati) and two senators (Antonio Duva and Stelio De Carolis), thanks to the alliance with larger parties. Duva and De Carolis switched to the DS soon after the election, but during the legislature the PRI was joined by three more deputies elected with other parties: Gianantonio Mazzocchin, Giovanni Marongiu (both former DS members) and Luigi Negri (a former member of Lega Nord and Forza Italia).

The Republicans were highly disappointed by the five years of government of the centre-left and soon became critical supporters of the Prodi I Cabinet, as part of The Clover, a centrist parliamentary alliance with the Italian Democratic Socialists (SDI) and the Union for the Republic (UpR).

At the 2001 the party formed an alliance with Silvio Berlusconi's House of Freedoms and got one deputy (Giorgio La Malfa) and one senator (Antonio Del Pennino) elected. This led two left-wing groups to secede from the party: the European Republican Movement (MRE), led by Luciana Sbarbati, and the Democratic Republicans, led by Giuseppe Ossorio. The PRI took part to Berlusconi's governments and La Malfa was appointed Minister of European Affairs in the Berlusconi III Cabinet. At the 2006 general election Nucara and La Malfa were elected on the Forza Italia's lists for the Chamber of Deputies, while the party decided to run under its own banner for the Senate. Del Pennino was anyway elected senator on Forza Italia's list.

At the 2008 general election PRI got two deputies elected in the list of The People of Freedom (PdL), La Malfa and Nucara.


The common battle in Parliament against electoral reform favored a reconciliation between the MRE and the PRI. During the III congress of the MRE in February 2009, the two parties signed a joint declaration under which, despite their different coalition allegiances, the two parties pledged to join forces in Parliament on some key issues such as civil liberties and freedom of research.[10][11] In October a joint committee was installed in order to reach an agreement of re-unification of the two parties.[12] By February 2011 the PRI was joined by both the MRE and the Democratic Republicans.[13][14] The splits inside the PRI were not finished anyway: in December 2010 La Malfa voted against Berlusconi's government and was suspended from the party.[15] Moreover, La Malfa, along with Sbarbati (MRE), took part to the birth of the New Pole for Italy (NPI) instead.[16] In May 2011 La Malfa was finally expelled from the party.[17]

In June 2011 Antonio Del Pennino, a long-time Republican who stood as candidate in the PdL list in 2008, returned to the Senate after the death of a PdL senator.[18]

In January 2012 Giuseppe Ossorio replaced a Democrat in the Chamber and, once proclaimed, joined the PRI sub-group.[19]

In the 2013 general election, the PRI contested the election alone, separate from any major coalition.

In December 2013 Nucara resigned from secretary after more than twelve years at the top.[20]

Popular support[edit]

Throughout the Kingdom of Italy the Republicans, along with the other party of the "far left", the Radicals, were strong especially among the rural workers in Romagna, in the Marche and around Rome. In the 1890s they suffered the competition with the Italian Socialist Party for the single-seat constituencies of Emilia-Romagna, where both parties had their heartlands. However, at the 1900 general election the PRI won 4.3% of the vote (7.3% in Lombardy, 9.6% in Emilia-Romagna, 15.0% in the Marche, 9.6% in Umbria and 7.2% in Apulia) and 29 seats from several regions of Italy, including also Veneto and Sicily, where they had some local strongholds. After that the Republicans were reduced almost to their power base in Romagna and Northern Marche, where the party had more than 40% and where most of their deputies came from. That was why the party, which was little more than a regional party, lost many seats when proportional representation was introduced in 1919.[21]

At the 1946 general election, the first after World War II, despite competition by the Action Party, which had a similar constituency and regional base, the PRI won 4.4% of the vote, with peaks in its traditional strongholds: around 21% in Romagna (32.5% in Forlì and 37.3% in Ravenna), 16.4% in the Marche (26.6% in Ancona and 32.9% in Jesi), 11.0% in Umbria and 15.2% in Lazio.[22] However the PRI soon lost its character of mass party in those areas, although it retained some of its positions there, as the Italian Communist Party conquered most of formerly Republican workers' votes, and the party settled around 1-2% at the national level in the 1950s and 1960s.[23]

Since the 1970s, under the leadership of Giovanni Spadolini, they Republicans gained support among educated middle-class voters, losing some ground in their traditional strongholds but also increasing their share of vote somewhere else, notably in Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria, where they became a strong competitor to the Italian Liberal Party for a constituency composed of entrepreneurs and professionals. This resulted in a recovery of the party, which had its highest peak at the 1983 general election: after that Spadolini had been Prime Minister of Italy for barely two years, the party enjoyed a bounce which led it to the 5.1% of the vote. This time the PRI did fairly better in Piedmont (7.7%, 10.3% in Turin and 12.8% in Cuneo) and Lombardy (6.9%, 12.3% in Milan) that in Emilia-Romagna (5.1%) and the Marche (4.7%) on the whole. The party however did very well in its local strongholds such as the Province of Forlì-Cesena (11.3%) and the Province of Ravenna (13.9%).[21][23]

At the 1992 general election, the last before the Tangentopoli scandals, the PRI won 4.4% of the vote (+0.7% from 1987) and increased its share of vote in the South.[23] With the end of the First Republic the party was severely diminished in term of votes and retreated to its traditional strongholds and in the South. After that most Republicans from the Marche left the party to join the European Republicans Movement in 2001 and most Republicans from Campania switched to the Democratic Republicans, the PRI was left only with Romagna (where the local party is affiliated to the centre-left) and its new heartlands in Calabria and Sicily.

At the 2004 European Parliament election the party won 3.8% of the vote in Calabria,[24] while it gained a surprising 9.4% in the provincial election of Messina in 2008.[25] In Romagna, in alliance with the centre-left, the party won the 4.2% of the vote in the provincial election of Forlì-Cesena in 2004[26] and 3.8% in Ravenna in 2006[27] (6.1% in the municipal election[28]). In 2011 local elections the party was almost stable in Ravenna and its province (3.1 and 5.1%, respectively) and in Reggio Calabria and its province (3.1 and 4.1%), but gained some ground in Naples (1.5%).[29] In the 2012 municipal elections the party won 6.5% in Brindisi.[30]



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  2. ^ Intervista a Franco Torchia/Il ruolo e l'attività del responsabile del tesseramento del Pri
  3. ^
  4. ^ James L. Newell; James Newell (28 January 2010). The Politics of Italy: Governance in a Normal Country. Cambridge University Press. pp. 27–. ISBN 978-0-521-84070-5. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Cinzia Padovani (1 January 2007). A Fatal Attraction: Public Television and Politics in Italy. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 262–. ISBN 978-0-7425-1950-3. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Il Pentapartito - Storia della Repubblica Italiana
  7. ^ Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko; Matti Mälkiä (2007). Encyclopedia of Digital Government. Idea Group Inc (IGI). pp. 389–. ISBN 978-1-59140-790-4. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Hans Slomp (30 September 2011). Europe, A Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO. pp. 403–. ISBN 978-0-313-39182-8. 
  9. ^ "Seguiamo le impostazioni di Mazzini e Ugo La Malfa/I repubblicani e la loro collocazione in Europa". 28 January 2011. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  10. ^ "Movimento Repubblicani Europei". 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "Incontro Pri - Mre: obiettivo la riunificazione dei repubblicani". 23 September 2009. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  13. ^ "La conferenza stampa Nucara-Sbarbati/E' stato superato il tripartito delle divisioni post congresso di Bari". 26 January 2011. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  14. ^ [2][dead link]
  15. ^ "La Direzione Nazionale dell'Edera/Sospeso l'onorevole Giorgio La Malfa". 16 December 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  16. ^ "Nasce il Polo della nazione". 16 December 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  17. ^ "Sentenza dei Probiviri del Pri". 9 May 2011. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  18. ^ "Scheda di attività di Antonio Adolfo Maria DEL PENNINO - XVI Legislatura". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  19. ^ "XVI Legislatura - Deputati e Organi Parlamentari - Scheda deputato - OSSORIO Giuseppe". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
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  21. ^ a b Piergiorgio Corbetta; Maria Serena Piretti, Atlante storico-elettorale d'Italia, Zanichelli, Bologna 2009
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  23. ^ a b c "Ministero dell'Interno ::: Archivio Storico delle Elezioni". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  24. ^ "Nuova Cosenza". Nuova Cosenza. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  25. ^ "Speciale elezioni 2008 - Elezioni provinciali - Messina". 19 June 2008. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  26. ^ "Elezioni 2004". Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  27. ^ "Elezioni provinciali 2006 - Ravenna". 30 May 2006. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
  28. ^ "Elezioni comunali 2006 - Emilia Romagna: Ravenna". 30 May 2006. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 
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  30. ^ "Corriere della Sera". 8 May 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-23. 

External links[edit]