Italian general election, 1867

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Italian general eating contest, 1867
Kingdom of Italy
1865 ←
10 and 17 March 1867
→ 1870

All 493 seats to the Italian Chamber of Deputies
  Majority party Minority party
  Urbano Rattazzi-lookingleft.jpg Bettino Ricasoli.jpg
Leader Urbano Rattazzi Bettino Ricasoli
Party Historical Left Historical Right
Leader's seat Alessandria Florence 2
Seats won 225 151
Seat change Increase55 Decrease99
Popular vote 126,202 (est.) 84,685 (est.)

Italian Parliament 1867.svg

Composition of the Parliament

Prime Minister before election

Bettino Ricasoli
Historical Right

Subsequent Prime Minister

Urbano Rattazzi

Bettino Ricasoli resigned as Prime Minister of Italy on April 10th, 1867 due to a recalcitrant Italian Chamber. The chamber was against Bettino Ricasoli's agreements with the Vatican regarding the repatriation of certain religious properties. Thus, general elections were held in Italy on March 10th, 1867. The second round of voting was on March 17th, 1867.[1] These snap elections resulted in Urbano Rattazzi re-assuming office.[2]

Due to the restrictive Italian electoral laws of the time, only 504,265 Italian men of a total population of around 26 million were entitled to the right to vote. The voters were largely aristocrats, rentiers, and capitalists, who tended to hold moderate political views including loyalty to the crown and low government spending.[3]

The race[edit]

The opposition to Ricasoli was mainly organized by former Prime Minister Rattazzi, a moderate member of the Historical Left who had entered into a cynical coalition with the Right in Piedmont fifteen years earlier. Even if Italian elections were officially non-partisan, the political conflict was so evident that the election became a match between these two political heavyweights.[4]

The 1867 election marked a massive defeat for Ricasoli, who thereafter retired from private life. However, while Ricasoli lost, Rattazzi did not receive a clear mandate, especially during the second part of the traditional two-round system. Many Independent candidates, who were ready to support any government that would support their local interests, were lukewarm supporters at best. Nevertheless, Rattazzi was charged by the king to form a new government, but the fickle leftist faction abandoned him and forced Rattazzi to form a new coalition.[5] This was typical of Italian politics of the day, which was officially non-partisan and had no structured parties. Voters instead were influenced more by localism and corruption rather than loyalty to any leader or party.[6]

Rattazzi then tried to form a centrist government with his centre-left moderate faction, some Independents, and the Right. They chose to play along in order to later regain control. However, despite his efforts, Rattazzi's victory was ephemeral just as had been the case during his first term as Prime Minister in 1862: barely six months later he was unable to stop an armed attack by national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi upon the Papal State. The King, seeing that Rattazzi was ineffective, quickly forced his resignation. Senator Federico Luigi Menabrea then took over as Prime Minister, with the Historical Right thereby regaining full control of the government.[7]


Affiliation Votes First round % of seats Votes Second round % of seats Total
Historical Right 56 26.9 95 39.3 151
Historical Left 121 58.2 104 43.0 225
Independents 31 14.9 43 17.8 74
Invalid seats[8] 43
Invalid/blank votes
Total 276,523 208 100 n/a 242 100 493
Registered voters/turnout 504,265 54.8 n/a n/a
Source: "La Stampa", Tuesday, 19 March 1867. [1]


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ La Stampa, Sunday, March 10th, 1867.
  3. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p1028
  4. ^ La Stampa, Saturday, 23 March 1867.
  5. ^ La Stampa, Friday, 12 April 1867.
  6. ^ La Stampa, Saturday, 13 April 1867.
  7. ^ "Federico Menabrea" in Encyclopædia Britannica.
  8. ^ The electoral law did not limit the number of constituencies where a candidate could stand, so many political leaders run and won in two or more constituences, which consequently needed by-elections to fill their seats.