Italian Radicals

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Italian Radicals
Radicali Italiani
Leaders Marco Pannella,
Emma Bonino
Secretary Riccardo Magi
President Marco Cappato
Treasurer Valerio Federico
Founded 14 July 2001
Preceded by Bonino List
Headquarters Via di Torre Argentina, 76
00186 Rome
Newspaper Quaderni radicali,
Notizie Radicali,
Radio Radicale (FM radio)
Membership  (2007) 1,841[1]
Ideology Liberalism[2]
National affiliation none
European affiliation Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
International affiliation none
European Parliament group Non-Inscrits (2001–04)
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (2004–09)
Chamber of Deputies
0 / 630
0 / 315
European Parliament
0 / 73
Politics of Italy
Political parties

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. As the Radical Party had become a transnational NGO working mainly 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 member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party.[4] The party was previously a full member of the Liberal International.[5]

Emma Bonino served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in Letta Cabinet between April 2013 and February 2014.


Radical Party (1969)
Pannella List (1992)
Bonino List (1999)


The Radical Party was long a left-libertarian movement in Italy, often proposing itself as the most extreme opposition to the Italian political establishment.

When Silvio Berlusconi entered the political arena in 1994, the Radicals, who were then organised into the Pannella List and were attracted by Berlusconi's proposed economic liberalism, supported him, albeit critically and without becoming directly involved in his centre-right governments, in the hope of a "liberal revolution" as opposed to the conservative and statist political establishment represented by traditional parties.

Road to the new party[edit]

The twisted relationship between the Radicals and Berlusconi, whose allies included socially conservative groups at odds with the Radicals' social liberalism, soon ended up. In the 1999 European Parliament election, the Bonino List obtained 8.7% of the vote and seven MEPs (including Emma Bonino, Marco Pannella, Marco Cappato and Benedetto Della Vedova).

However, the Radicals were not able to convert that success into a more stable political influence. From 2001 to 2006 the Radicals were not even represented in the Italian Parliament, while for the previous five years they had merely a senator, Pietro Milio.

After the 1999 European Parliament election, the Radicals actually tried to build up from the electoral success and formed the "Committee of Radicals for the Liberal Revolution and the United States of Europe", led by Marco Cappato, and in 2001, after the crushing defeat in the general election (only 2.3% of the vote and no seats), they finally re-organised themselves as "Italian Radicals" and elected 28-year-old Daniele Capezzone as secretary, and Benedetto Della Vedova, Rita Bernardini and Luca Coscioni as joint presidents.

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 sustainable 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[edit]

Rose in the Fist (2005)

In November 2005 the Italian Radicals formed an alliance with the Italian Democratic Socialists (SDI),[6] becoming de facto members of The Union coalition for the 2006 general election. The "rose in the fist", that the Radical Party bought from the French Socialist Party and is the symbol of the Socialist International (which included the SDI), was chosen as symbol of the joint list, that was thus named Rose in the Fist. This decision led those Radicals who were more keen on an alliance with the centre-right to split: this group, led by Benedetto Della Vedova, launched the Liberal Reformers and joined the House of Freedoms, eventually merging into Berlusconi's Forza Italia/The People of Freedom.

In the election the list scored only 2.6%, much less than the electoral sum of the two parties before the alliance (the Radicals alone got 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 were 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 was still the behind-the-scenes real leader of the party, Daniele Capezzone was forced not to run again for secretary and was replaced by rank-and-file 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 congress, Marco Pannella declared that the party should "give absolute priority to economic, liberal and libertarian reforms rather than the civil struggle to Vatican power, prepotency and arrogance",[7][8] which had been at the centre of the 2006 electoral campaign. This did not mean anyway a reconciliation with the centre-right, as some pundits suggested, and in fact the Radicals decided to stay in the centre-left camp.

Within the Democratic Party[edit]

Radicali Logo.jpg

In the 2008 general election the Radicals stood for re-election in list with the Democratic Party (PD). Under an agreement with PD's 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, was a member of the Democratic Party's parliamentary group. In June Rita Bernardini, Maria Antonietta Coscioni and Elisabetta Zamparutti, all three elected to the Italian Parliament, were replaced by Antonella Casu, Bruno Mellano and Michele De Lucia respectively.[9] In November the new leadership was confirmed by the national congress.[10]

In the 2009 European Parliament election the Italian Radicals ran separately from the PD as the Bonino-Pannella List. Receiving 2.4% of the vote, they failed to return any MEPs. In November Mario Staderini was elected secretary in place of Casu.[11]

Bonino ran for President in the 2010 Lazio regional election but was defeated by Renata Polverini.

2013 general election and beyond[edit]

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).[12][13] In the election, the party received 0.2% of the vote, returning no deputies or senators.[14][15] However, in April, after two months of failed attempts at forming a new government, thanks to her international standing and Pannella's lobbying efforts, 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 did not include Bonino.

In November 2013 the party elected a new leadership: Rita Bernardini secretary, Laura Arconti president and Valerio Federico treasurer.[16]

The party did not take part in the 2014 European Parliament election, partly due to lack of funds.

In November 2014, during the annual party congress, Riccardo Magi was elected secretary and Marco Cappato president.[17][18]


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.

In foreign policy, the Radicals are instinctively and staunchly pro-American, pro-European Union and were in favour of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

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.

Electoral results[edit]

Italian Parliament[edit]

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2006 990,694 (#7) 2.6
7 / 630
Marco Pannella
2008 with PD
6 / 630
Decrease 1
Marco Pannella
2013 64,732 (#19) 0.2
0 / 630
Decrease 6
Marco Pannella
Senate of the Republic
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2006 851,604 (#9) 2.5
0 / 315
Marco Pannella
2008 with PD
3 / 315
Increase 3
Marco Pannella
2013 63,149 (#18) 0.2
0 / 315
Decrease 3
Marco Pannella


See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Italian)
  2. ^ a b James L. Newell (2010). The Politics of Italy: Governance in a Normal Country. Cambridge University Press. pp. 42, 218, 219. ISBN 978-0-521-84070-5. 
  3. ^ Raphaël Kies (2010). Promises and Limits of Web-deliberation. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-230-10637-6. 
  4. ^ ALDE Party members | ALDE Party
  5. ^ Radicali Italiani - Italy - Full Members - Members - Liberalism
  6. ^ André Krouwel (2012). Party Transformations in European Democracies. SUNY Press. p. 326. ISBN 978-1-4384-4483-3. 
  7. ^ Archived October 11, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ vasco_pirri_ardizzone. "". Retrieved 2011-02-24.  External link in |title= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^ "7° CONGRESSO RADICALE: SCINTILLE A CONGRESSO,MA CASU RESTA SEGRETARIA - Clandestinoweb: sondaggi politici, elettorali. Il sondaggio politico elettorale che fa opinione". Clandestinoweb. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  11. ^ "Radicali italiani a congresso Staderini nuovo segretario - Politica". 2009-11-15. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  13. ^ Liste, i simboli presentati sono 215: è record. Domani le esclusioni - Il Messaggero
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ XII Congresso di Radicali italiani – “Riconquistare giustizia, democrazia, legalità. Quali lotte, quali mezzi, quale soggetto politico?” | Dalle associazioni | Radicali italia...
  17. ^
  18. ^

External links[edit]