Union of Christian and Centre Democrats

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Union of Christian and Centre Democrats
Leader Pier Ferdinando Casini
Secretary Lorenzo Cesa
President Gianpiero D'Alia
Founded 6 December 2002
Merger of CCD, CDU, DE
Headquarters via Due Macelli, 66
00187 Rome
Membership  (2011) 220,000[citation needed]
Ideology Christian democracy
Social conservatism[1][2]
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
6 / 630
Senate
2 / 315
European Parliament
1 / 73
Website
www.udc-italia.it
Politics of Italy
Political parties
Elections

The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (Italian: Unione dei Democratici Cristiani e di Centro, UDC) is a Christian-democratic[3][4] and conservative[5] 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" and the two organisations have overlapped.

Through 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. Later it has been affiliated neither to the centre-right nor the centre-left at the national level. Despite this, the UDC takes part with Forza Italia, the main party of the Italian centre-right, within several regional, provincial and municipal governments (notably in Campania and Calabria), but recently formed alliances also with the centre-left Democratic Party in other regions (notably in Marche) and at the very local level. In the 2013 general election the UDC/UdC was part of With Monti for Italy, the coalition formed around Mario Monti's Civic Choice. More recently the party, which sits in Renzi Cabinet, has sided with the Angelino Alfano's New Centre-Right.

History[edit]

Foundation and early years[edit]

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 the UDC won 5.9% of the vote and five MEPs. At the 2001 Italian general election the three precursors of the UDC had scored 5.6% (sum of 3.2%, combined result of CCD and CDU, and 2.4%, result of DE). Since then the UDC was the third largest party within the House of Freedoms, surpassing Lega Nord. This was reflected also by Follini's entry in Berlusconi's second cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister with the goal of strengthening the government while diminishing the influence of Lega Nord.

At the 2005 regional elections the 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 his position as 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 headed party electoral lists in most constituencies. Despite the defeat of the House of Freedoms, the UDC improved its electoral performance gaining 6.8% of the vote.

From Berlusconi to the "centre"[edit]

In October 2006 Follini, a harsh critic of Berlusconi, finally left the party to form a new grouping, called Italia di Mezzo, which was eventually merged into the centre-left Democratic Party upon its foundation in October 2007. This was the fourth split suffered by the 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 the 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 the 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), the UDC was joined by The Rose for Italy 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, the UDC was left by those who wanted to continue the alliance with Berlusconi: Carlo Giovanardi and his faction (Liberal Populars) joined the PdL, citing that the 72% of UDC voters wanted the party to do so.[6] They were soon followed by many others.

Union of the Centre[edit]

At the 2008 general election the UDC fought under the banner of the Union of the Centre (UdC), that included the White Rose[7] and other smaller groups. Despite having lost many votes to its right, the 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 the 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 the 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,[8] losing ground everywhere but in those Southern regions where it was in alliance with the centre-right.

On 15 December 2010 the UDC, through the UdC, was a founding member of the New Pole for Italy, composed also of Future and Freedom and Alliance for Italy.[9][10] The three parties, keen supporters of Mario Monti's government, parted ways in 2012.

The UDC/UdC contested the 2013 general election as part of the With Monti for Italy coalition, alongside FLI and Mario Monti's Civic Choice. The election was a huge defeat for the UDC 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.[11]

The UdC ran in the 2014 European Parliament election on a joint list with the New Centre-Right (NCD), a Christian-democratic outfit emerged from a split from the PdL in its final days. The list obtained 4.4% of the vote and three MEPs, two for NCD and one for the UdC.

Ideology[edit]

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, the 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".[12] Indeed the party is stronger in the South and especially in Sicily, where public-sector employment is widely spread.

The 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, was critical Silvio Berlusconi's leadership over the Italian centre-right and presented himself as a moderate alternative to populism, which, in his view, denoted the alliance between The People of Freedom (PdL) and Lega Nord. UDC's main goal, similarly to that of the Democratic Movement in France, was to form a government beyond the left-right divide and the dream of reassembling the remnants of the old Christian Democracy (DC) party and to control Italian politics from the centre was a longstanding one. In this respect Casini and his followers have long tried 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).

This "centrist option" has not succeeded yet: the UDC has remained a much lighter force compared to Berlusconi's parties (Forza Italia), the PdL and finally the new Forza Italia, which has drawn most former DC voters, and Italians like confrontational politics based on alternative coalitions and many would support a two-party system, in place of the typically Italian fragmented political spectrum.[13] Finally, several political scientists think that the return of DC is all but likely as the "political unity of Catholics" (the core idea on which DC was based) is not repeatable and it would be anti-historical to try uniting all strains of political Catholicism in a single party. Moreover, although Casini and his followers are keen on presenting themselves as moderates, their solid social conservatism has harmed their prospects, while FI/PdL/FI has been popular also among secularised middle-class voters and has had much more clout in the country than the UDC. Casini knows that and, through the Union of the Centre, the embryo of a future "party of the nation", tried to open his party to all the "centrists", the "Christian democrats", the "liberals" and the "reformers".[14]

On the other issues, it is relevant to state that the UDC is one of the main supporters of nuclear energy in the Italian political arena.[15]

Factions[edit]

At the last national congress in 2007 there were basically four factions within the party.

The three main schisms suffered by the party between 2004 and 2006, Italia di Mezzo (IdM), Movement for Autonomy (MpA) and Christian Democracy for the 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.

Popular support[edit]

The UDC has been historically stronger in the South of Italy than in any 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 the UDC in the 10 most populated regions of Italy are shown in the table below. As the 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 the UDC. The 2006 (Sicilian regional) refers to the combined result of the 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
Piedmont with FI 3.0 4.4 3.3 4.5 3.5 5.0 4.6 6.2 5.2 6.1 3.9 1.2
Lombardy with FI 2.2 4.6 3.5 4.1 3.4 3.6 3.8 5.9 4.3 5.0 3.8 1.1
Veneto with FI 3.6 5.4 5.4 6.8 5.0 5.0 6.4 7.8 5.6 6.4 4.9 1.7
Emilia-Romagna with FI 4.8 4.8 2.7 3.7 3.4 2.8 3.9 5.8 4.3 4.7 3.8 1.1
Tuscany with FI 2.5 4.8 3.2 4.2 3.3 3.3 3.7 5.9 4.2 4.6 4.8 1.1
Lazio with FI 4.2 4.7 4.8 6.7 4.8 7.1 7.8 6.9 4.8 5.5 6.1 1.5
Campania with FI 9.7 8.0 6.8 8.5 7.5 7.0 6.7 6.8 6.5 8.7 9.4 3.6
Apulia with FI 5.6 7.6 6.0 6.2 6.8 8.1 7.8 7.8 7.9 9.1 6.5 2.0
Calabria with FI 9.0 9.0 9.4 13.3 9.5 9.6 10.4 7.7 8.2 9.3 9.4 4.1
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
ITALY - - 5.8 4.8 - 5.6 5.9 - 6.8 5.6 6.5 - 1.8

Symbols[edit]

Leadership[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Piero Ignazi, Partiti politici in Italia, Il Mulino, Bologna 2008, p. 58
  2. ^ Parties and Elections in Europe. Parties-and-elections.eu. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
  3. ^ Maurizio Cotta; Luca Verzichelli (2007). Political Institutions in Italy. Oxford University Press. pp. 40–. ISBN 978-0-19-928470-2. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Jeff Haynes; Anja Hennig (3 July 2013). Religious Actors in the Public Sphere: Means, Objectives, and Effects. Routledge. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-1-136-66171-6. 
  5. ^ Daniele Albertazzi (24 June 2009). Resisting the Tide: Cultures of Opposition Under Berlusconi (2001-06). Continuum. pp. 18–. ISBN 978-0-8264-9291-3. 
  6. ^ "Giovanardi lascia l'Udc per il Pdl". Corriere della Sera. 2008-02-04.
  7. ^ "Elezioni: accordo tra Rosa Bianca e Udc". Corriere della Sera. 2008-02-08
  8. ^ L' Udc lancia la sua sfida «Accordi mirati con Pdl e Pd oppure andremo da soli». Archiviostorico.corriere.it. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
  9. ^ Nasce il Polo della nazione. Archiviostorico.corriere.it. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
  10. ^ Fini: dimissioni? Opzione che non esiste E Bossi invita ad «abbassare i toni». Archiviostorico.corriere.it. Retrieved on 2013-09-07.
  11. ^ http://www.formiche.net/2014/02/23/udc-cesa-casini/
  12. ^ "Prodi resurrected—for now". The Economist. 2007-03-01.
  13. ^ "A plague on both your houses". The Economist. 2006-12-07.
  14. ^ http://www.udc-italia.it/site_upload/articoli/3493d4cb677f6822f24baab79a8ae0ed.pdf
  15. ^ "Riprendiamo subito la strada del nucleare". Corriere della Sera. 2007-09-13.
  16. ^ a b "Nel puzzle Udc si agita anche il Cdu". L'Indipendente. 2007-04-05.
  17. ^ NoiPress.it 2007-04-12 19:31 – Congresso nazionale: la nota di Cuffaro ai delegati siciliani
  18. ^ http://www.carlogiovanardi.it/sito/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=300

External links[edit]