Italian Socialist Party (2007)

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Italian Socialist Party
Partito Socialista Italiano
Secretary Riccardo Nencini
President Carlo Vizzini
Coordinator Gianfranco Schietroma
Founded 5 October 2007
Merger of Italian Democratic Socialists
Socialist Party
The Italian Socialists
Democracy and Socialism
Minor parties and groups
Headquarters Via Santa Caterina da Siena 57, 00186 Rome[1]
Newspaper Avanti!
Membership (2016) 20,600[2]
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Centre-left
National affiliation Centre-left coalition
Together (2017–2018)
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
International affiliation Socialist International
European Parliament group Party of European Socialists (2007–2009)
Chamber of Deputies
1 / 630
1 / 315
European Parliament
0 / 73
6 / 897

The Italian Socialist Party (Italian: Partito Socialista Italiano, PSI) is a social-democratic[3] political party in Italy.

The party was founded in 2007–2008 by the merger of six minor social-democratic parties and groups: the Italian Democratic Socialists, the Socialist Party, The Italian Socialists, Democracy and Socialism, the Association for the Rose in the Fist and Socialism is Freedom. Until October 2009, the party was known as the Socialist Party (Italian: Partito Socialista, PS).

Since July 2008, Riccardo Nencini of Tuscany has been party leader. Elected senator with the Democratic Party in 2013, he has been Deputy Minister of Infrastructures and Transports since 2014 (Renzi Cabinet and Gentiloni Cabinet).



A merger of all the parties hailing from the tradition of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) (disbanded in 1994 as a result of Tangentopoli scandals) and the Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI) was initially proposed by Enrico Boselli during a congress of his Italian Democratic Socialists (SDI) in April 2007. In that occasion, the party decided not to join the Democratic Party (PD) and called for a Socialist Constituent Assembly (Costituente Socialista) instead.

Some minor parties and associations, including The Italian Socialists of Bobo Craxi, Socialism is Freedom of Rino Formica and the Association for the Rose in the Fist of Lanfranco Turci immediately welcomed Boselli's proposal while in June 2007 the Socialist Party – New PSI (NPSI) divided in two groups: the first, led by Stefano Caldoro, opted to stay within the House of Freedoms and retained the NPSI identity; the second, led by Gianni De Michelis, agreed to join the Constituent Assembly and provisionally formed the Socialist Party. At its foundation in October 2007, the PS was joined also by Gavino Angius' Democracy and Socialism, a group of former Democrats of the Left most recently affiliated with the Democratic Left.

At the 2008 general election, the PS stood alone and Boselli was its candidate for Prime Minister.[4] In the event, the party gained less than 1% of the vote (well below thresholds) and failed to win any seats in the Italian Parliament.

Out of Parliament[edit]

At the first party congress, which took place in July 2008, Riccardo Nencini was elected secretary (replacing Boselli) while Pia Locatelli was elected president.[5] In September, Nencini proposed a new "reformist axis" comprising the Democratic Party (PD), the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC) and the Socialists while explaining that the Democrats needed to choose between the reformism of the PS and the populism of Italy of Values (IdV).[6] In October 2008, Angius led his group into the PD, proposing that the entire PS should follow him.[7][8][9][10] In reply, Nencini underlined that no former members of the late PSI were leaving the party. In fact, Spini, the only former Socialist in Angius' group, chose to stay in the PS.[11] However, De Michelis left the party soon after.[12]

For the 2009 European Parliament election, the PS formed a joint list named Left and Freedom (SL) with the Movement for the Left, the Federation of the Greens, the Democratic Left and Unite the Left.[13] SL received a mere 3.1% of the vote and failed to return any MEPs. Despite this, the national council of the PS chose to continue the experience of SL in order to build a "secular, libertarian and left-wing" force which would join the Party of European Socialists.[14] This led to the exit of Craxi, who launched the United Socialists in October.[15] However, one month later the PS left SL (later rebranded Left Ecology Freedom, SEL), having refused to into it.[16] The PS was renamed Italian Socialist Party (PSI), chose to support joint candidates with the PD and to run its own lists in the forthcoming regional elections,[17] opening the way to Craxi's return.[18]

At the 2010 regional elections, the PSI elected a total of 15 regional councillors.[19] The party obtained its best results in Apulia (9.7% with SEL and 4 councillors out of the 11 elected by SEL), Basilicata (4.6% and 1 councillor), Umbria (4.2% and 2 councillors), Campania (3.5% with SEL and 2 councillors out of 2) and Calabria (3.7%, just 0.3% short of the electoral threshold). At the second party congress in July, Nencini was re-elected secretary, but the party was divided between three political lines: the majority around Nencini supported a "reformist" alliance with the PD, UDC and SEL (excluding IdV and the Communist Refoundation Party), the right "autonomist" wing led by Craxi wanted the party to stand alone and the left "frontist" wing favoured stronger co-operation with SEL.[12]

In December 2010, Boselli, long-time SDI leader and PS/PSI founder, who had left active politics after his 2008 defeat, joined Alliance for Italy.[20]

Return to Parliament[edit]

In November 2011, Carlo Vizzini, a senator of The People of Freedom (PdL) and former leader of the PSDI, joined the party, giving it parliamentary representation after more than three years. While leaving the PdL, Vizzini stated: "It seems to me that the PdL is set to become the Italian section of the European People's Party. I come from another tradition: I have been secretary of the PSDI and I was one of the founders of the Party of European Socialists. When I joined Forza Italia there were Liberals, Socialists, Radicals. Now everything has changed".[21] Vizzini was soon elected president of the PSI.

The party did well in the 2012 local elections. In Carrara, the Socialist mayor Angelo Zubbani was re-elected by a landslide and the party obtained 14.4% of the vote.[22] The PSI also won 15.1% in Todi, 8.9% in Narni, 7.2% in Civitanova Marche, 9.5% in Frosinone, 11.8% in Paola and 9.4% in Trapani.[23]

In the 2013 general election, the PSI was part of the Italy. Common Good coalition headed by PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani,[24] whom the PSI had supported in the 2012 centre-left primary election. The party obtained 4 deputies and 2 senators, including Nencini, from the lists of the PD and right after supported Enrico Letta's government. During the third party congress in November 2013, Nencini was re-elected secretary, beating Franco Bartolomei of the "frontist" left and Angelo Sollazzo of the "autonomist" wing.[25] In 2015, Bartolomei, Alberto Benzoni and Felice Besostri set up the leftist Socialist Risorgimento and were excluded from the party.[26][27][28][29]

Renzi Cabinet and splits[edit]

When Letta was replaced by Matteo Renzi with strong support from the PSI in February 2014, Nencini was appointed Deputy Minister of Infrastructures and Transports in Renzi Cabinet. In the summer of 2015, Marco Di Lello, party leader in the Chamber, went so far as proposing the merger of the PSI into the PD and announced that were the party not to follow his proposal (as it was clear from the comments made by Nencini and all the party bigwigs), he would join the PD.[30][31][32] In November, Di Lello along with Lello Di Gioia, another deputy, left the PSI and formed along with a deputy of the PD the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) as a faction within the PD.[33][34] Contextually, Carmelo Lo Monte, elected in 2013 with the Democratic Centre, joined the PSI's sub-group and the party as a full member.[35]

During the fourth party congress in April 2016, Nencini was unopposed.[36][37][38] However, Socialist Area, a faction launched in November 2015 by Bobo Craxi, Roberto Biscardini, Gerardo Labellarte and Angelo Sollazzo,[39] who criticised the party's "acritical" support to Renzi Cabinet and Nencini's double role as party leader and deputy minister while proposing a more left-wing positionment for the party as opposed to PD–PSI's "centrism",[40][41] chose not to participate in the congress,[42] a decision that marked the split from the party.[43][44][45] Otherwise, the party was endorsed by Tommaso Nannicini, Renzi's undersecretary and economic advisor.[46]

The PSI did well in the 2016 local elections. In Città di Castello, the Socialist mayor Luciano Bacchetta was re-elected in the first round and the party obtained 21.5% of the vote.[47] The PSI also won 11.7% in Finale Emilia, 10.2% in Sulmona, 14.7% in Frattaminore, 8.2% in Salerno, 12.1% in Melfi and 10.1% in Cassano all'Ionio.[48]

Road to the 2018 general election[edit]

Nencini was confirmed as Deputy Minister of Infrastructures and Transports in the government led by Paolo Gentiloni (PD) in December 2016.

In the 2017 local elections, the party obtained its best results in Nocera Inferiore (13.2%),[49] Palmi (12.0%),[50] Galatina (9.5%),[51] Narni (8.6%)[52] and Trapani (8.8%)[53] while losing ground in its historical stronghold of Carrara (6.5%),[54] where a Socialist was the incumbent term-limited mayor. In September 2017, Michela Marzano, originally elected with the PD, joined the PSI sub-group in the Chamber as an independent[55] while Lo Monte left in November.

In December 2017, the PSI, the Federation of the Greens and Civic Area formed the Together electoral list for the 2018 general election.[56][57][58] When the results came in, the list had obtained a mere 0.6% of the vote and no seats, but Nencini was re-elected to the Senate in a single-seat constituency in Arezzo.

Popular support[edit]

Similarly to its precursors (SI, SDI and NPSI), the PSI has its strongholds in Southern and Central Italy.

In the 2008 general election, the first and latest general election the PSI fought with its own list, the party obtained 1.8% in Umbria, 2.0% in Calabria (2.8% for the Senate), 2.8% in Basilicata and 1.6% in Apulia. In the 2010 regional elections, the party confirmed its strength in its strongholds: 4.2% in Umbria, 3.7% in Calabria, 4.6% in Basilicata, 9.7% in Apulia (along with SEL) and 3.5% in Campania. In the 2013 regional election, the party increased its percentage of the vote to 7.5% in Basilicata.

In the 2015 regional elections, the party formed joint lists with the PD in several cases while obtaining 3.5% in Umbria with its own list.

Electoral results[edit]

Italian Parliament[edit]

Chamber of Deputies
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2008 355,575 (10th) 0.98
0 / 630
Enrico Boselli
2013 with Democratic Party
4 / 630
Increase 4
Riccardo Nencini
2018 with Together
1 / 630
Decrease 3
Riccardo Nencini
Senate of the Republic
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2008 285,802 (9th) 0.86
0 / 315
Enrico Boselli
2013 57,688 (13th) 0.18
3 / 315
Increase 3
Riccardo Nencini
2018 with Together
1 / 315
Decrease 2
Riccardo Nencini

European Parliament[edit]

Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2009 with Left and Freedom 3.13
0 / 630
Riccardo Nencini
2014 with Democratic Party
0 / 630
Riccardo Nencini

Regional Councils[edit]

Region Last election No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats won
Aosta Valley 2013 N/A N/A
0 / 35
Piedmont 2014 N/A N/A
0 / 50
Lombardy 2018 with Together with Together
0 / 80
South Tyrol 2013 N/A N/A
0 / 35
Trentino 2013 2,579 (18th) 1.1
0 / 35
Veneto 2015 with Civic Veneto with Civic Veneto
0 / 51
Friuli-Venezia Giulia 2018 N/A N/A
0 / 49
Emilia-Romagna 2014 with Civic Emilia-Romagna with Civic Emilia-Romagna
0 / 50
Liguria 2015 N/A N/A
0 / 31
Tuscany 2015 with the Democratic Party with the Democratic Party
0 / 41
Marche 2015 with United for Marche with United for Marche
2 / 31
Increase 1
Umbria 2015 12,200 (7th) 3.5
1 / 20
Lazio 2018 with Together with Together
0 / 51
Decrease 1
Abruzzo 2014 11,666 (13th) 1.7
0 / 31
Molise 2018 with Union for Molise with Union for Molise
0 / 21
Decrease 1
Campania 2015 49,643 (12th) 2.2
1 / 51
Decrease 1
Apulia 2015 N/A N/A
0 / 51
Basilicata 2013 17,680 (5th) 7.5
1 / 21
Calabria 2014 with the Democratic Party with the Democratic Party
0 / 30
Sicily 2017 115,751 (6th) 6.0
0 / 70
Sardinia 2014 9,518 (20th) 1.4
1 / 60
Increase 1



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