Italian general election, 1972

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Italian general election, 1972
1968 ←
7 May 1972 → 1976

All 630 seats in the Italian Chamber of Deputies
316 seats were needed for a majority in the Chamber
315 (of the 323) seats in the Italian Senate
Turnout 93.2%
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Forlani.jpg Enrico Berlinguer.jpg Francesco De Martino.jpg
Leader Arnaldo Forlani Enrico Berlinguer Francesco De Martino
Party Christian Democracy Communist Party Socialist Party
Leader since 1969 1972 1963
Leader's seat XVIII - The Marches XX - Latium XI - Romagna
Last election 266 & 135 seats, 39.1% 177 & 101 seats, 26.9% 91 & 46 seats [1]
Seats won 266 (H)
135 (S)
179 (H)
94 (S)
61 (H)
33 (S)
Seat change Steady0 Decrease5 Decrease43
Popular vote 12,919,270 9,072,454 3,210,427
Percentage 38.7% 27.1% 10.0%
Swing Decrease0.4% Increase0.3% Decrease4.5%

Italian Election 1972 Province.png

Legislative election results map. Light Blue denotes provinces with a Christian Democratic plurality, Red denotes those with a Communist plurality, Gray denotes those with an Autonomist plurality.

Prime Minister before election

Giulio Andreotti
Christian Democracy

Elected Prime Minister

Giulio Andreotti
Christian Democracy

General elections were held in Italy on May 7, 1972.[2] Democrazia Cristiana (DC) remained stable with around 38% of the votes, as it happened to the Communist Party (PCI) which obtained the same 27% of 1968. The Socialist Party (PSI) continued in its decline, reducing to less than 10%. The most important growth was that of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement, who nearly doubled its votes from 4.5 to c. 9%, after that its leader Giorgio Almirante launched the formula of the National Right, proposing his party as the sole group of the Italian right side. After the dismaying result, less than 2%, against 4.5% of 1968, the Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity was disbanded, its majority joining the Italian Communist Party.

Electoral system[edit]

The pure party-list proportional representation had traditionally become the electoral system for the Chamber of Deputies. Italian provinces were united in 32 constituencies, each electing a group of candidates. At constituency level, seats were divided between open lists using the largest remainder method with Imperiali quota. Remaining votes and seats were transferred at national level, where they were divided using the Hare quota, and automatically distributed to best losers into the local lists.

For the Senate, 237 single-seat constituencies were established, even if the assembly had risen to 315 members. The candidates needed a landslide victory of two thirds of votes to be elected, a goal which could be reached only by the German minorities in South Tirol. All remained votes and seats were grouped in party lists and regional constituencies, where a D'Hondt method was used: inside the lists, candidates with the best percentages were elected.

Historical background[edit]

The period or the late 1960s–1970s came to be known as the Opposti Estremismi, (from left-wing and right-wing extremists riots), later renamed anni di piombo ("years of lead") because of a wave of bombings and shootings — the first victim of this period was Antonio Annarumma, a policeman, killed on November 12, 1969 in Milan during a left-wing demonstration.

In December, four bombings struck in Rome the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II (Altare della Patria), the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, and in Milan the Banca Commerciale and the Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura. The later bombing, known as the Piazza Fontana bombing of 12 December 1969, killed 16 and injured 90.

In late 1968 Communist Secretary Luigi Longo suffered of stroke; although partially recovering in the following months, from February 1969 he was assisted in most decisions by Enrico Berlinguer acting as cive-secretary. In 1972 Longo resigned the position of party secretary, supporting the choice of Berlinguer as his successor.

Berlinguer's unexpected stance made waves: he gave the strongest speech by a major Communist leader ever heard in Moscow. He refused to "excommunicate" the Chinese communists, and directly told Leonid Brezhnev that the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact countries (which he termed the "tragedy in Prague") had made clear the considerable differences within the Communist movement on fundamental questions such as national sovereignty, socialist democracy, and the freedom of culture.

Arturo Michelini, leader of the Italian Social Movement died in 1969, and the party's first and charismatic leader Giorgio Almirante regained control. He attempted to revitalise the party by pursuing an aggressive policy against left-wing student uprisings; the 1968 student movement had been devastating for the party's youth organisation. Following Michelini's failed approach of inserimento, Almirante introduced a double strategy of hard anti-systemic discourse combined with the creation of a broader "National Right" (Destra Nazionale) coalition.[3]

Parties and leaders[edit]

Party Ideology Leader
Christian Democracy (DC) Christian democracy Arnaldo Forlani
Italian Communist Party (PCI) Communism Enrico Berlinguer
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) Democratic socialism Francesco De Martino
Italian Social Movement (MSI) Neo-fascism Giorgio Almirante
Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI) Social democracy Giuseppe Saragat
Italian Liberal Party (PLI) Conservative liberalism Giovanni Malagodi
Italian Republican Party (PRI) Social liberalism Ugo La Malfa
Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity (PSIUP) Socialism Lelio Basso


Regional pluralities in Senate

Mathematically, the election seemed to give the same results of four years before, the three major parties receiving quite the same preferences. However, the success of the operation of the National Right by anti-constitutional, neo-fascist MSI, gave a golden share to the PSI, because the Christian Democrats had no more possibilities to look at their right to build a democratic government, the alliance with the Socialists becoming quite obliged. Incumbent Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti tried to continue his centrist strategy, but his attempt only lasted a year. Former Premier Mariano Rumor so returned at the head of the government with his traditional centre-left alliance between DC, PSI, PSDI and PRI, but he was abandoned by the Republicans after eight months. He continued with a new squad, but he couldn't withstand the shocks deriving by the divorce referendum of 1974. After the consequent great controversies between Catholics and secularists, former Premier Aldo Moro persuaded the Socialists to accept a minority government composed only by the Christian Democrats and the Republicans. However, new problem arose from the regional elections of 1975, which marked a great success of the left, which consequently called for new national elections. When the Republicans too left Moro in 1976, no possibilities of a new government remained, and a fresh, early vote was obliged to be celebrated.

Chamber of Deputies[edit]

Summary of the 7 May 1972 Chamber of Deputies election results
Italian Chamber of Deputies 1972.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Christian Democracy 12,912,466 38.66 266 ±0
Italian Communist Party 9,068,961 27.15 179 +2
Italian Socialist Party 3,208,497 9.61 61
Italian Social Movement 2,894,722 8.67 56 +32
Italian Democratic Socialist Party 1,718,142 5.14 29
Italian Liberal Party 1,300,439 3.89 20 −11
Italian Republican Party 954,357 2.86 15 +6
Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity 648,591 1.94 0 −23
The Manifesto 224,313 0.67 0 New
South Tyrolean People's Party 153,674 0.46 3 ±0
Political Movement of Workers 120,251 0.36 0 New
Italian (Marxist–Leninist) Communist Party 86,038 0.26 0 New
DCUVRVPSDI 34,083 0.10 1 +1
Others 79,014 0.26 0 ±0
Invalid/blank votes 1,122,139
Total 34,525,687 100 630 ±0
Registered voters/turnout 37,049,351 93.19
Source: Ministry of the Interior
Popular vote

Senate of the Republic[edit]

Summary of the 7 May 1972 Senate of the Republic election results
Italian Senate 1972.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Christian Democracy 11,465,529 38.07 135 ±0
PCIPSIUP 8,312,828 27.60 91 −10
Italian Socialist Party 3,225,707 10.71 33
Italian Social Movement 2,766,986 9.19 26 +15
Italian Democratic Socialist Party 1,613,810 5.36 11
Italian Liberal Party 1,319,175 4.38 8 −8
Italian Republican Party 918,440 3.05 5 +3
PCIPSIUPPSD'Az 189,534 0.63 3 ±0
SVPPPTT 113,452 0.38 2 ±0
PCIPSIUPPSI 41,833 0.14 0 ±0
PSDIPRI 31,953 0.11 0 ±0
DCUVRVPSDI 28,735 0.10 1 +1
Tyrol 31,114 0.10 0 New
Others 56,961 0.19 0 ±0
Invalid/blank votes 2,243,869
Total 31,486,399 100 315 ±0
Registered voters/turnout 33,923,895 92.7
Source: Ministry of the Interior
Popular vote


  1. ^ In the coalition Unified PSI–PSDI, with the Italian Democratic Socialist Party.
  2. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1048 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  3. ^ Gallego, 1999, pp. 7–8.