Italian general election, 1919

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Italian general election, 1919
Kingdom of Italy
1913 ←
16 November 1919 → 1921

All 508 seats to the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Italy
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Turati.jpg Don Luigi Sturzo.jpg VittorioEmanuelleOrlando28379v cropped.jpg
Leader Filippo Turati Don Luigi Sturzo Vittorio Emanuele Orlando
Party Socialist Party People's Party Liberals–Democrats–Radicals
Seats won 156 100 96
Seat change Increase104 new party new party
Popular vote 1,834,792 1,167,354 904,195
Percentage 32.3% 20.5% 15.9%
Swing Increase14.7% new party new party

Italian Parliament, 1919.svg

Composition of the Parliament

Prime Minister before election

Vittorio Emanuele Orlando

Subsequent Prime Minister

Francesco Saverio Nitti
Radical Party

General elections were held in Italy on 16 November 1919.[1] The fragmented Liberal governing coalition lost the absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies, due to the success of the Italian Socialist Party and the Italian People's Party.

Electoral system[edit]

The old system of using single-member constituencies with two-round majority voting was abolished and replaced with proportional representation in 58 constituencies with between 5 and 20 members.[2]

Historical background[edit]

The election took place in the middle of Biennio Rosso ("Red Biennium") a two-year period, between 1919 and 1920, of intense social conflict in Italy, following the First World War.[3] The revolutionary period was followed by the violent reaction of the Fascist blackshirts militia and eventually by the March on Rome of Benito Mussolini in 1922.

The Biennio Rosso took place in a context of economic crisis at the end of the war, with high unemployment and political instability. It was characterized by mass strikes, worker manifestations as well as self-management experiments through land and factories occupations.[3] In Turin and Milan, workers councils were formed and many factory occupations took place under the leadership of anarcho-syndicalists. The agitations also extended to the agricultural areas of the Padan plain and were accompanied by peasant strikes, rural unrests and guerrilla conflicts between left-wing and right-wing militias.

In the general election, the fragmented Liberal governing coalition lost the absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies, due to the success of the Italian Socialist Party and the Italian People's Party. The Socialists of Filippo Turatireceived the most votes in almost every region and especially in Emilia-Romagna (60.0%), Piedmont (49.7%), Lombardy (45.9%), Tuscany (41.7%) and Umbria (46.5%), while the People's Party were the largest party in Veneto (42.6%) and came second in Lombardy (30.1%) and the Liberal lists were stronger in Southern Italy (over 50% in Abruzzo, Campania, Basilicata, Apulia, Calabria and Sicily).[4]

Parties and leaders[edit]

Party Ideology Leader
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) Socialism, Revolutionary socialism Filippo Turati
Italian People's Party (PPI) Christian democracy, Popularism Luigi Sturzo
Liberals–Democrats–Radicals Social liberalism, Liberalism Vittorio Emanuele Orlando
Social Democratic Party (PDSI) Social liberalism, Christian left Giovanni Antonio Colonna
Liberals Liberalism, Centrism Giovanni Giolitti
Combatants' Party (PdC) Italian nationalism, Veteran interests several
Radical Party (PR) Radicalism, Anti-clericalism Francesco Saverio Nitti
Economic Party (PE) Conservatism, Liberism several
Reformist Socialist Party (PSRI) Democratic socialism, Social democracy Leonida Bissolati
Italian Republican Party (PRI) Republicanism, Radicalism Carlo Sforza


Party Votes % Seats +/–
Italian Socialist Party 1,834,792 32.3 156 +104
Italian People's Party 1,167,354 20.5 100 New
Liberals–Democrats–Radicals 904,195 15.9 96
Italian Social Democratic Party 622,310 10.9 60 New
Liberals 490,384 8.6 41
Combatants' Party 232,923 4.1 20 New
Radical Party 110,697 1.9 12
Economic Party 87,450 1.5 7 New
Italian Reformist Socialist Party 82,157 1.4 6 –13
Dissident People's Party 65,421 1.2 0 New
Italian Republican Party 53,197 0.9 9 +1
Independent Socialists 33,938 0.6 1 –7
Invalid/blank votes 108,674
Total 5,793,492 100 508 0
Registered voters/turnout 10,239,326 56.6
Popular vote


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p1032
  3. ^ a b Brunella Dalla Casa, Composizione di classe, rivendicazioni e professionalità nelle lotte del "biennio rosso" a Bologna, in: AA. VV, Bologna 1920; le origini del fascismo, a cura di Luciano Casali, Cappelli, Bologna 1982, p. 179.
  4. ^ Piergiorgio Corbetta; Maria Serena Piretti, Atlante storico-elettorale d'Italia, Zanichelli, Bologna 2009