Italian Catholic Electoral Union

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Italian Catholic Electoral Union
Unione Elettorale Cattolica Italiana
Leader Ottorino Gentiloni
Founded 1906
Dissolved 1919
Preceded by Opera dei Congressi
Merged into Italian People's Party
Ideology Conservatism
Christian democracy
Political Catholicism
Political position Centre

The Italian Catholic Electoral Union (Unione Elettorale Cattolica Italiana, UECI) was a political organization designed to coordinate the participation of Catholic voices in Italian electoral contests. Its founder and leader was the Count Vincenzo Ottorino Gentiloni.


The Catholic Electoral Union was formed in 1906 after the suppression of the Opera dei Congressi ("Work of the Congress") following the encyclical Il fermo proposito of Pope Pius X.[1] It was headed 1909-16 by Count Ottorino Gentiloni. The Gentiloni pact of 1913 briought many new Catholic voters into politics, where they supported the Liberal Union of Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti. By the terms of the pact, the Union directed Catholic voters to Giolitti supporters who agreed to favor the Church's position on such key issues as funding private Catholic schools, and blocking a law allowing divorce.

The Gentiloni Pact was born out of a secret deal in the run-up to the 1913 general election between Catholic voters and Giolitti's Liberal candidates who promised to support Catholic policies, especially funding of Catholic private schools, and opposition to a law permitting divorce.[2] It was estimated that over 200 deputies were elected through the Pact, enough to provide a majority for Giolitti.[3]

The Italian Socialist Party gained votes (from 19% to 23% of the voters) while the liberals were strengthened in the short run. In the past, Giolitti had co-opted many moderate Socialists (as well as members of other fringe parties). Giolitti himself was against political parties, which he felt were divisive and harmful to the "gentleman's game" of politics.

The Gentiloni Pact was condemned by Socialists and anti-Clerical allies of Giolitti.[2] They saw the Church as the bulwark to progress and felt betrayed into an alliance with Giolitti in the past. The Socialists would never trust Giolitti or the liberal system again.

This led the revolutionary faction of the Italian Socialist Party to gain strength in Italy although the Vatican became increasingly influential in Italian politics as well.

Eventually, Giolitti was forced to resign by his anti-clerical allies in March 1914, and was replaced as Prime Minister by Antonio Salandra on appointment of the King.[2][3]

Electoral results[edit]

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1904 8,008 (#6) 0.5
3 / 508
Ottorino Gentiloni
1909 73,015 (#6) 4.0
18 / 508
Increase 15
Ottorino Gentiloni
1913 212,319 (#5) 4.2
20 / 508
Increase 2
Ottorino Gentiloni


  1. ^ "Opera Omnia Alberione". Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  2. ^ a b c Roland Sarti (1 January 2009). Italy: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. Infobase Publishing. pp. 308, 401. ISBN 978-0-8160-7474-7. 
  3. ^ a b Charles L. Killinger (1 January 2002). The History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 134. ISBN 978-0-313-31483-4. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Frank J. Coppa. "Giolitti and the Gentiloni Pact between Myth and Reality," Catholic Historical Review (1967) 53#2 pp. 217–228 in JSTOR