|Founded||14 July 2001|
|Headquarters||Via di Torre Argentina, 76
Radio Radicale (FM radio)
|National affiliation||Rose in the Fist (2005–2007),
Democratic Party (2008-2013)
|International affiliation||Liberal International|
|European affiliation||Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe|
|European Parliament group||Non-Inscrits (2001–2004)
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (2004–2009)
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Politics of Italy
The Italian Radicals (Italian: Radicali Italiani) are an Italian political party, which describes itself as a "liberale, liberista e libertario" (liberista means economic liberal or, better, libertarian in the American sense; libertario, here, denotes a form of cultural liberalism concerning moral issues, with some ideological connection with historical left-libertarianism).
The party intends to be the Italian section of the Transnational Radical Party, that is to say the continuation of the Radical Party founded in 1955 by the left-wing of the Italian Liberal Party and re-launched in the 1960s by Marco Pannella. The Radical Party having become a transnational NGO working at the UN level, which by statute does not participate in national political elections, its Italian members organised themselves into the Pannella List (Lista Pannella) between 1992 and 1999 and into the Bonino List (Lista Bonino) until 2001, when they re-established themselves as a party.
Founded on 14 July 2001 (with Daniele Capezzone as their first secretary), the Italian Radicals are a full member of the Liberal International and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party.
Road to a new party
The Radical Party had historically been considered as the strongest left-libertarian political movement in Italy (often proposing itself as the most extreme opposition to the Italian political establishment), but, when Silvio Berlusconi entered the political arena in 1994, the Radicals, then organised into the Pannella List, decided to support his policies (meant to introduce libertarian economic principles), albeit critically and without becoming directly involved in his centre-right governmental cabinets, in the hope of a "liberal revolution" as opposed to the conservative and statist political establishment represented both by established centre-right and centre-left parties.
The twisted relationship between the Radicals and Berlusconi, whose allies included socially conservative groups opposed to the Radicals, soon ended up, although never stopping the Radicals from being vocally critical of the policies supported by the left. As a result, since 1996 the Radicals have not been part of any major coalition. In the 1999 European Parliament election, the Bonino List had won 8.7% of the vote, however the Radicals were not able to convert that success into more influence in the political arena. From 2001 to 2006 Radicals were not even represented in the Italian Parliament, while for the previous five years they had only one Senator.
In 2001, after a crushing defeat in the general election (only 2.3% of the votes and no seats), the Radicals re-organised themselves as "Italian Radicals" and elected young Daniele Capezzone as secretary. This was a big shift from the electoral lists formed by Radicals since 1989, when they decided to transform their party into the Transnational Radical Party, as it meant that the Radicals understood that they needed a more stable organization if they wanted to preserve their role in Italian politics.
The second important step concerned alliances. During the run-up to the 2005 regional election, the Italian Radicals understood that their isolation was no longer affordable and took the unprecedented step of asking at the same time to join both the centre-right House of Freedoms and the centre-left The Union, regardless of their respective political platforms. The request was turned down by both coalitions.
The Rose in the Fist
In November 2005 the Italian Radicals established an alliance with the Italian Democratic Socialists (SDI) and became de facto members of The Union coalition for the general election of 2006. The symbol and name of the new alliance was Rose in the Fist, the former symbol of the Radical party in the 1970s and 1980s and the current symbol of the Socialist International, of which the SDI was a member. This decision led to a split by those Radicals who were more keen on an alliance with the centre-right: this group, led by Benedetto Della Vedova, launched the Liberal Reformers and joined the House of Freedoms, eventually merging into Berlusconi's The People of Freedom party.
In the election the list scored only 2.6%, much less than the electoral sum of the two parties before the alliance (Radicals alone took 2.3% in the 2004 European Parliament election). The Radicals lost voters in their strongholds in the North to Forza Italia, while the Socialists lost ground in the South, where they are more popular, to The Olive Tree parties (see electoral results of the Rose in the Fist). After the election, Emma Bonino was sworn in as Minister of European Affairs and International Trade in the Prodi II Cabinet.
In November 2006, after a row with Marco Pannella, who remains the real leader of the party behind the scenes, Daniele Capezzone was forced to leave the post of secretary and was replaced by the rank-and-file member Rita Bernardini. Since then Capezzone, although not leaving officially the party, became very critical of the government led by Romano Prodi and formed his own political association named Decide!, much closer to the centre-right than to the centre-left. Later on, Capezzone entered Forza Italia and became spokesman of that party.
In November 2007, the Rose in the Fist was disbanded as the SDI merged into the modern-day Italian Socialist Party, and the Radicals were at a new turning-point of their history. In the run-up of the 2007 party convention, Marco Pannella declared that the party should "give absolute priority to economic, liberal and libertarian reforms rather than civil struggle to Vatican power, prepotency and arrogance", which were at the centre of the 2006 electoral campaign with the Rose in the Fist. This did not mean anyway a reconciliation with the centre-right, as some pundits suggested, and in fact the Radical decided to stay in the centre-left camp.
Within the Democratic Party
In the forthcoming election the Radicals stood for re-election in list with the Democratic Party (PD). Under the agreement with PD's then-leader Walter Veltroni, six deputies and three senators were elected. After the election, Bonino was appointed Vice President of the Senate and she, along with the other eight Radical MPs are members of the Democratic Party's caucuses.
In June 2008 Bernardini, Coscioni and Zamparutti, all three elected to the Italian Parliament, were replaced by Antonella Casu, Bruno Mellano and Michele De Lucia respectively, as party leadership roles and elected office are incompatible according to the party constitution. In November 2008 the new leadership was confirmed by the national congress, after a row between Pannella and Bonino.
In the 2009 European Parliament election the Italian Radicals ran separately from the PD as the Pannella-Bonino List. Receiving 2.4% of the vote, they failed to return any MEPs. In November Mario Staderini was elected secretary in place of Casu.
2013 general election and beyond
On 4 January 2013 the party announced that it would contest the 2013 Italian general election on a stand-alone electoral list called Amnesty, Justice and Freedom (Giustizia, amnistia e libertà). In the election, the party received 0.2% of the vote, returning no deputies or senators.
However, on 28 April 2013 after two months of failed attempts at forming a new government, Emma Bonino was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Letta Cabinet. The cabinet lasted until 22 February 2014, when it was replaced by the Renzi Cabinet, which Bonino was not a member of.
The party did not take part in the 2014 European Parliament election, partly due to lack of funds.
The Italian Radicals are an atypical party for Italy and they are typically viewed as leftist by right-wing people, and rightist by left-wing people. Among other things, they are the only Italian party with a clear anti-clerical agenda, whereas most other parties either support the Catholic Church or are ambivalent.
They are vocal supporters of human and civil rights, which they consider to include abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, artificial insemination, stem cell research, abolition of capital punishment all around the world and legalisation of soft drugs. This put the party at odds with the mainstream centre-right parties. On the other hand their strong support of libertarian policies, the free market, liberalizations, privatizations, low taxes and privately funded health care put it at odds with the centre-left.
They also propose an American-style reform of Italian political system, including presidentialism, competitive federalism and first-past-the-post voting. Despite being a small party, they are also keen supporters of the two-party system.
- Secretary: Daniele Capezzone (2001–2006), Rita Bernardini (2006–2008), Antonella Casu (2008–2009), Mario Staderini (2009–2013), Rita Bernardini (2013–present)
- President: Benedetto Della Vedova, Rita Bernardini and Luca Coscioni (2001–2003), Luca Coscioni (2003–2006), Maria Antonietta Coscioni (2006–2008), Bruno Mellano (2008–2010), Silvio Viale (2010–2013), Laura Arconti (2013–present)
- Treasurer: Danilo Quinto (2001–2003), Rita Bernardini (2003–2006), Elisabetta Zamparutti (2006–2008), Michele De Lucia (2008–2013), Valerio Federico (2013–present)
- President of the National Committee: Werther Casali (2004–2010), Marco Revelli (2010–2011), Giulia Simi (2011–present)
- (Italian) http://www.radicali.it
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- Promises and Limits of Web-deliberation. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 117–. ISBN 978-0-230-10637-6.
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- Official website
- Transnational Radical Party
- Associazione Luca Coscioni
- Radio Radicale
- Quaderni radicali