Union of Christian and Centre Democrats
|Union of Christian and Centre Democrats|
|Leader||Pier Ferdinando Casini|
|Founded||6 December 2002|
|Merger of||CCD, CDU, DE|
|Headquarters||via Due Macelli, 66
|Membership (2011)||220,000|
|National affiliation||Union of the Centre|
|International affiliation||Centrist Democrat International|
|European affiliation||European People's Party (as Union of the Centre)|
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Politics of Italy
The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (Italian: Unione dei Democratici Cristiani e di Centro, UDC) is a Christian-democratic and conservative political party in Italy. It is formally led by Lorenzo Cesa, although its most popular figure and practical leader is Pier Ferdinando Casini. The party is the driving force behind the Union of the Centre (UdC), and since 2008 the party's official name has been neglected in favour of "Union of the Centre" as the two organisations overlap.
As the Union of the Centre, the UDC is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and the Centrist Democrat International (CDI), of which Casini is currently president. The party, which was part of the Pole/House of Freedoms from 1994 through 2008, was a component of the short-lived New Pole for Italy and, therefore, was affiliated neither to the centre-right nor the centre-left at the national level. Despite this, UDC takes part with The People of Freedom (PdL), previously the main party of the Italian centre-right, within several regional, provincial and municipal governments (notably in Lazio, Campania and Calabria), but has recently formed alliances also with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) in other regions (notably in Marche) and at the very local level. In 2013, at the national level the UDC (as the UdC) was part of the With Monti for Italy coalition formed around the Civic Choice party of Prime Minister Mario Monti.
Foundation and early years
The party was founded in 2002 by the merger of three parties: the Christian Democratic Centre (CCD, led by Pier Ferdinando Casini from 1994 to 2001 and then by Marco Follini), the United Christian Democrats (CDU, a 1995 split of the Italian People's Party led by Rocco Buttiglione) and European Democracy (DE, launched by Sergio D'Antoni in 2000). Follini and Buttiglione became respectively national secretary and president of the new party.
At the 2004 European Parliament election UDC won 5.9% of the vote and five MEPs. At the 2001 Italian general election the three precursors of UDC had scored 5.6% (sum of 3.2%, combined result of CCD and CDU, and 2.4%, result of DE). Since then UDC was the third largest party within the House of Freedoms, surpassing Lega Nord. This was reflected also by the entry of Follini in Berlusconi's second cabinet as Vice President of the Council of Ministers with the goal of strengthening the government while diminishing the influence of Lega Nord.
At the 2005 regional elections UDC and the House of Freedoms faced a severe defeat by winning only 2 regions out of 14. Follini asked Silvio Berlusconi to resign and form a new government. In the new executive Buttiglione became minister of Culture, while Follini step down from his previous post in order to concentrate on the party. On 15 October 2005 Follini suddenly resigned from party secretary and was replaced on 27 October by Lorenzo Cesa, an ally of Casini.
The party took part to the 2006 general election with a new logo, characterized by the inclusion of the name of Casini, who also topped party lists in most electoral constituencies. Despite the defeat of the House of Freedoms, UDC improved its electoral performance gaining 6.8% of the vote.
From Berlusconi to the "centre"
In October 2006 Follini, a harsh critic of Berlusconi, finally left the party to form a new grouping, called Middle-of-the-Road Italy, which was eventually merged into the centre-left Democratic Party in October 2007. This was the fourth split suffered by UDC in two years after three much bigger scissions led respectively by Sergio D'Antoni, who joined Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy in 2004, Gianfranco Rotondi, who launched the Christian Democracy for Autonomies in 2005, and Raffaele Lombardo, who formed the Sicilian-based Movement for Autonomy later on that year.
After the departure of Follini, however, Casini became highly critical of Berlusconi too and further distanced UDC from him. A fifth major split happened at the end of January 2008 when Bruno Tabacci and Mario Baccini left the party because Casini seemed eager to re-join Berlusconi for the upcoming election, after that the Prodi II Cabinet had not passed through a vote of confidence. Shortly afterwards, when Casini refused to merge his party into Berlusconi's then-new political movement, The People of Freedom (PdL), UDC was joined by the White Rose of Tabacci, Baccini and Savino Pezzotta, as well as by two leading members of Forza Italia, Ferdinando Adornato and Angelo Sanza. On the other side, UDC was left by those who wanted to continue the alliance with Berlusconi: Carlo Giovanardi and his Liberal Popular faction joined the PdL, citing that the 72% of UDC voters wanted the party to do so. They were soon followed by many others.
Union of the Centre
At the 2008 general election UDC fought under the banner of the Union of the Centre (UdC), that included the White Rose and other smaller groups. Despite having lost many votes to its right, UDC was able to woo some new voters from the centre-left and gained 5.6% of the vote. At the 2009 European Parliament election UdC won 6.5% of the vote and five of its candidates were elected to the European Parliament, notably including Magdi Allam and Ciriaco de Mita.
At the 2010 regional elections UDC/UdC chose to form alliances either with the centre-right or the centre-left (or stand alone) in the different regions, depending on local conditions, losing ground everywhere but in those Southern regions where it was in alliance with the centre-right.
On 15 December 2010 UDC, through UdC, was a founding member of the New Pole for Italy, composed also of Future and Freedom and Alliance for Italy. The three parties, keen supporters of Mario Monti's government, since parted ways in 2012.
The UDC/UdC contested the 2013 general election as part of the With Monti for Italy coalition, alongside FLI and the pro-Monti Civic Choice. The election was a huge defeat for the party, which obtained a mere 1.8% of the vote, eight deputies and two senators. After the election, the party joined the Letta Cabinet with Gianpiero D'Alia as minister of Public Administration (2013–2014) and the Renzi Cabinet with Gianluca Galletti as minister of the Environment (since February 2014).
In February 2014 Cesa was narrowly re-elected secretary over D'Alia during the party's fourth congress.
Although it is the most vocal supporter of social conservatism in Italy (opposition to abortion, gay rights and euthanasia are some of its main concerns) and can be easily connected with the Christian right, UDC is usually identified with the political centre in Italy, thanks to its Christian Democratic roots.
However The Economist once described it as a right-wing, sometimes reactionary party, which "stretches a long way from the centre". Moreover, it wrote that many UDC members are "diehard corporatists who [...] get most of their votes from the south, where many households depend either on welfare or on public-sector employment". Indeed the party is stronger in the South and especially in Sicily, where public-sector employment is widely spread.
UDC was an independent-minded and often reluctant member of the House of Freedoms coalition from 2002 to 2008. The party's leading figure, Pier Ferdinando Casini, is critical of the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi over the Italian centre-right and presents himself as a moderate alternative to populism, which, in his view, denotes the alliance between The People of Freedom (PdL) and Lega Nord. UDC's main goal, similarly to that of the Democratic Movement in France, is to form a government beyond the left-right divide. The dream of reassembling the remnants of the old Christian Democracy (DC) party and to control Italian politics from the centre is a longstanding one. In this respect Casini and his followers are trying to form the nucleus of a third force in Italian politics, hoping to enlist someday centrist members of the Democratic Party (PD), especially those coming from Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy (DL). They began to do so through the New Pole for Italy, an alliance composed also of splinters from the centre-right (Future and Freedom) and the centre-left (Alliance for Italy), which existed from 2010 to 2012.
It is difficult to say how much chances of success this "centrist option" has; indeed there are at least three problems with it. First, UDC is a much lighter force compared to Berlusconi's party, which draws much support from former Christian Democratic voters. Second, Italians like confrontational politics based on two alternative coalitions and many would support a two-party system, in place of the typically Italian fragmented political spectrum. Third, it is difficult to unite progressives from the PD with conservative UDC, and history does not always repeat itself: many political scientists think that the return of Christian Democracy is all but likely as political unity of Catholics (the core idea on which DC was based) is not repeatable because it will be anti-historical trying to unite again free-market liberals and economic interventionists, social conservatives and social liberals within a single party.
It is true that DL had many conservative Catholics in its ranks but their position was mostly social-democratic on other political issues. UDC is likely to attract some of them but until it can draw huge support from PdL voters its chances of growth are low. Although Casini and his followers are keen on presenting themselves as moderates, their staunchly social-conservative stance harm their prospects, as the PdL is popular also among secularised middle-class voters and has much more clout in the country than UDC. Casini knows that and, through the Union of the Centre, the embryo of a future "party of the nation", is trying to open his party to all the "centrists", the "Christian democrats", the "liberals" and the "reformers".
At the last national congress in 2007 there were basically four factions within the party.
- Casiniani. Led by Pier Ferdinando Casini, Lorenzo Cesa and Rocco Buttiglione, the faction included also Mario Tassone (co-leader with Buttiglione of a sub-group composed of former members of the CDU, which controlled more than 15% of party delegates), Michele Vietti, Luca Volontè, Francesco D'Onofrio, Maurizio Ronconi, Francesco Bosi and Antonio De Poli, and gained the support of at least 45% of party members.
- Tabaccini. This group, which had the support of the 30% of party members, was basically the left-wing of the party, including leading politicians such as Bruno Tabacci, Mario Baccini and Armando Dionisi, who were formerly close allies of Marco Follini. They proposed to start a co-operation with the Democratic Party (PD) or the formation of a centrist party open to figures like Luca Cordero di Montezemolo and Mario Monti.
- Cuffariani. This third group consisted in the Southern faction of Salvatore Cuffaro, former President of Sicily and was somewhat critical of the centralist-styled leadership of the party. This group, which included Calogero Mannino, Francesco Saverio Romano, Giuseppe Naro and Giuseppe Drago, held the 10% of the party delegates and supported the Casini-Cesa line, although its members had been often friendlier to Berlusconi. In September 2010 most Cuffariani, led by Romano, left UDC to form The Populars of Italy Tomorrow (PID) and support the Berlusconi IV Cabinet.
- Giovanardiani. It was the group led by Carlo Giovanardi and Emerenzio Barbieri, who wanted closer ties with Forza Italia and the other parties of the House of Freedoms coalition, including Lega Nord. At the congress the bid of Giovanardi for the leadership was supported by the 13.8% of delegates. Before leaving UDC in February 2008 in order to join the PdL, Giovanardi and Barbieri organized their faction as Liberal Populars.
The three main schisms suffered by the party between 2004 and 2006, Middle-of-the-Road Italy (IdM), Movement for Autonomy (MpA) and Christian Democracy for Autonomies (DCA), were led by the most vocal supporters of each of the last three factions mentioned above, respectively Marco Follini, Raffaele Lombardo and Gianfranco Rotondi. By 2010 virtually all Giovanardiani and Cuffariani had left the party through the Liberal Populars and the PID.
UDC is historically stronger in the South than in other part of the country.
At the 2008 general election the party won 9.4% in Sicily, 8.2% in Calabria and 7.9% in Apulia, while only 3.8% in Liguria, 4.3% in Lombardy and 5.2% in Piedmont. In the North the party is better placed in the North-East: 5.6% in Veneto and 6.0% in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
The electoral results of UDC in the 10 most populated regions of Italy are shown in the table below. As UDC was founded in 2002, the electoral results from 1994 to 2001 refer to the combined result of the precursor parties.
The Christian Democratic Centre (CCD) and the United Christian Democrats (CDU) formed joint-lists with Forza Italia respectively in 1994 (general) and 1995 (regional). The results of 1995 (regional) refer to CCD alone, those of 1996 (general) to the CCD-CDU joint-list, those of 1996 (Sicilian regional), 1999 (European) and 2000 (regional) to the combined result of CCD and CDU, those of 2001 (general) to the combined result of the CCD-CDU joint-list and of European Democracy (DE), which formed a separate list, that of 2001 (Sicilian regional) to the combined results of CCD, CDU and DE.
Since 2004 (European) the results refer to UDC. The 2006 (Sicilian regional) refers to the combined result of UDC (13.0) and of L'Aquilone–Lista del Presidente (5.7%), the personal list of UDC regional leader Salvatore Cuffaro. The elected members of this list were all UDC members.
|1994 general||1995 regional||1996 general||1999 European||2000 regional||2001 general||2004 European||2005 regional||2006 general||2008 general||2009 European||2010 regional||2013 general|
|Sicily||with FI||19.0 (1996)||8.1||7.9||24.3 (2001)||14.4||14.0||18.7 (2006)||10.0||9.4||11.9||12.5 (2008)||2.8|
- Secretary: Marco Follini (2002–2005), Lorenzo Cesa (2005–present)
- Deputy Secretary: Sergio D'Antoni (2002–2004), Mario Tassone (2004–present), Erminia Mazzoni (2005–2007), Salvatore Cuffaro (2005–2010), Armando Dionisi (2007–2008), Michele Vietti (2007–2010)
- Head of Political Secretariat: Lorenzo Cesa (2002–2005), Armando Dionisi (2005–2007), Antonio De Poli (2007–present)
- Spokesperson: Michele Vietti (2006–2007), Francesco Pionati (2007–2008), Antonio De Poli (2008–present)
- President: Rocco Buttiglione (2002–present)
- Party Leader in the Chamber of Deputies: Luca Volontè (2001–2008), Pier Ferdinando Casini (2008–2012), Gian Luca Galletti (2012–present)
- Party Leader in the Senate: Francesco D'Onofrio (2001–2008), Gianpiero D'Alia (2008–present)
- Party Leader in the European Parliament: Vito Bonsignore (2004–2008), Iles Braghetto (2008–2009), Carlo Casini (2009–present)
- Piero Ignazi, Partiti politici in Italia, Il Mulino, Bologna 2008, p. 58
- Parties and Elections in Europe. Parties-and-elections.eu. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
- Maurizio Cotta; Luca Verzichelli (2007). Political Institutions in Italy. Oxford University Press. pp. 40–. ISBN 978-0-19-928470-2. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Daniele Albertazzi (24 June 2009). Resisting the Tide: Cultures of Opposition Under Berlusconi (2001-06). Continuum. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-0-8264-9291-3.
- "Giovanardi lascia l'Udc per il Pdl". Corriere della Sera. 2008-02-04.
- "Elezioni: accordo tra Rosa Bianca e Udc". Corriere della Sera. 2008-02-08
- L' Udc lancia la sua sfida «Accordi mirati con Pdl e Pd oppure andremo da soli». Archiviostorico.corriere.it. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
- Nasce il Polo della nazione. Archiviostorico.corriere.it. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
- Fini: dimissioni? Opzione che non esiste E Bossi invita ad «abbassare i toni». Archiviostorico.corriere.it. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
- "Prodi resurrected—for now". The Economist. 2007-03-01.
- "A plague on both your houses". The Economist. 2006-12-07.
- "Riprendiamo subito la strada del nucleare". Corriere della Sera. 2007-09-13.
- "Nel puzzle Udc si agita anche il Cdu". L'Indipendente. 2007-04-05.
- NoiPress.it 2007-04-12 19:31 – Congresso nazionale: la nota di Cuffaro ai delegati siciliani