1897 Italian general election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Italian general election, 1897

← 1895 21–28 March 1897 1900 →

All 508 seats to the Chamber of Deputies of the Kingdom of Italy
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Giovanni Giolitti.jpg Rudini.jpg Felice Cavallotti.jpg
Leader Giovanni Giolitti Antonio Starabba di Rudinì Felice Cavallotti
Party Historical Left Historical Right Historical Far Left
Seats won 327 99 42
Seat change Decrease7 Decrease5 Decrease5
Popular vote 799,517 242,090 103,043
Percentage 64.4% 19.5% 8.3%
Swing Increase5.8% Decrease2.1% Decrease3.4%

Prime Minister before election

Antonio Starabba, Marchese di Rudinì
Historical Right

Elected Prime Minister

Antonio Starabba, Marchese di Rudinì
Historical Right

General elections were held in Italy on 21 March 1897, with a second round of voting on 28 March.[1] The "Ministerial" left-wing bloc, led by Giovanni Giolitti remained the largest in Parliament, winning 327 of the 508 seats.[2]

Historical background[edit]

The humiliating defeat of the Italian army at Adwa in March 1896 in Ethiopia during First Italo-Ethiopian War, brought about Francesco Crispi's resignation after riots broke out in several Italian towns.[3][4]

The ensuing Antonio di Rudini cabinet lent itself to Cavallotti’s campaign, and at the end of 1897 the judicial authorities applied to the Chamber of Deputies for permission to prosecute Crispi for embezzlement. A parliamentary commission of inquiry discovered only that Crispi, on assuming office in 1893, had found the secret service coffers empty, and had borrowed money from a state bank to fund it, repaying it with the monthly installments granted in regular course by the treasury. The commission, considering this proceeding irregular, proposed, and the Chamber adopted, a vote of censure, but refused to authorize a prosecution.

The crisis consequent upon the disaster of Adowa enabled Rudinì to return to power as premier and minister of the interior in a cabinet formed by the veteran Conservative, General Ricotti. He signed the Treaty of Addis Ababa that formally ended the First Italo–Ethiopian War recognizing Ethiopia as an independent country.[5] He endangered relations with Great Britain by the unauthorized publication of confidential diplomatic correspondence in a Green-book on Abyssinian affairs.

Di Rudinì recognized the excessive brutality of the repression of the Fasci Siciliani under his predecessor Crispi. Many Fasci members were pardoned and released from jail.[6]

A new party participated to the election, the Italian Republican Party (PRI), led by Carlo Sforza. The PRI traces its origins from the time of Italian unification and, more specifically, to the democratic-republican wing represented by figures such as Giuseppe Mazzini, Carlo Cattaneo and Carlo Pisacane.

Parties and leaders[edit]

Party Ideology Leader
Historical Left Liberalism, Centrism Giovanni Giolitti
Historical Right Conservatism, Monarchism Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
Historical Far Left Republicanism, Radicalism Felice Cavallotti
Italian Republican Party Republicanism, Radicalism Giovanni Bovio
Italian Socialist Party Socialism, Revolutionary socialism Filippo Turati


Summary of March 1897 Chamber of Deputies election results
Italian Parliament 1897.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Historical Left 799,517[a] 64.4 327 −7
Historical Right 242,090[a] 19.5 99 −5
Historical Far Left 103,043[a] 8.3 42 −5
Italian Republican Party 60,833[a] 4.9 25 New
Italian Socialist Party 37,245[a] 3.0 15 ±0
Invalid/blank votes 41,911
Total 1,241,486 100 508 ±0
Registered voters/turnout 2,120,909 58.5
Source: Nohlen & Stöver
  1. ^ a b c d e Estimate
Parliamentary seats


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p1083
  3. ^ Vandervort, Wars of Imperial Conquest in Africa, 1830–1914, pp. 162-64
  4. ^ Italy’s African Fiasco, The New York Times, July 5, 1896
  5. ^ Harold Marcus, The Life and Times of Menelik II: Ethiopia 1844-1913 (Lawrenceville: Red Sea Press, 1995), pp. 174-177
  6. ^ Pardon for Italian Socialists, The New York Times, March 14, 1896