Italian general election, 1976

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Italian general election, 1976
1972 ←
June 20, 1976 → 1979

All 630 seats in the Italian Chamber of Deputies
316 seats were needed for a majority in the Chamber
315 (of the 322) seats in the Italian Senate
Turnout 93.4%
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Benigno Zaccagnini.jpg Enrico Berlinguer.jpg Francesco De Martino.jpg
Leader Benigno Zaccagnini Enrico Berlinguer Francesco De Martino
Party Christian Democracy Communist Party Socialist Party
Leader since 1963
Leader's seat XII - Eastern Emilia XX - Latium III - Milan
Last election 266 & 135 seats, 38.7% 179 & 94 seats, 27.2% 61 & 33 seats
Seats won 263 (H)
135 (S)
227 (H)
116 (S)
57 (H)
29 (S)
Seat change Decrease3 Increase70 Decrease8
Popular vote 14,218,298 12,622,728 3,542,998
Percentage 38.7% 34.4% 9.6%
Swing 0% Increase7.2% Decrease0.4%

Italian Election 1976 Province.png

Legislative election results map. Light Blue denotes provinces with a Christian Democratic plurality, Red denotes those with a Communist plurality, Dark gray denotes those with a South Tyrolean People's Party plurality.

Prime Minister before election

Aldo Moro
Christian Democracy

New Prime Minister

Giulio Andreotti
Christian Democracy

General elections were held in Italy on June 20, 1976.[1] They were the first after the voting age was lowered to 18.

If Christian Democracy remained stable with around 38% of votes, Enrico Berlinguer's Italian Communist Party made a great jump winning 7 points more than four years before: this result, which was quite homogeneous in the entire society because confirmed by the electors of the age-restricted Senate,[2] began to show the possibility of a future change of the Italian government leadership. All minor parties lost a lot of votes to the DC in the attempt to fight the Communist progress: between them, historic Italian Liberal Party was nearly annihilated. Two new leftist forces made their debut in this election: the ultra-liberal Radical Party, which had led a successful referendum on divorce, and the far-left Marxist and Maoist Proletarian Democracy.

Electoral system[edit]

Regional pluralities in Senate

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 was 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.

Parties and leaders[edit]

Party Ideology Leader
Christian Democracy (DC) Christian democracy, Popularism Benigno Zaccagnini
Italian Communist Party (PCI) Communism, Eurocommunism Enrico Berlinguer
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) Socialism, Democratic socialism Francesco De Martino
Italian Social Movement (MSI) Neo-Fascism, Italian nationalism Giorgio Almirante
Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI) Social democracy, Centrism Pier Luigi Romita
Italian Republican Party (PRI) Social liberalism, Centrism Giovanni Spadolini
Proletarian Democracy (DP) Communism, Trotskyism Mario Capanna
Italian Liberal Party (PLI) Liberalism, Conservatism Valerio Zanone
Radical Party (PR) Radicalism, Anti-clericalism Marco Pannella


Face to the great result of the PCI, many centrist politicians and businessmen began to think how to avoid the possibility of a future Communist victory which could turn Italy into a Soviet-aligned State. So the DC leadership thought to gradually involve the Communists into the governmental policies so to moderate their requests, as made with the Socialists. The man which was chosen for this attempt did not belong to the leftist wing of the DC, as happened with the PSI, but the moderate leader and former-PM Giulio Andreotti, so to balance the situation and to calm the markets. Its first government ended in 1978, when the PCI decided to grant its external support. However this process, called National Solidarity, was dramatically stopped by the terroristic attacks of the Red Brigades, which kidnapped and killed former-PM Aldo Moro. The country was heavily shocked by these killings, and the Communists returned to a full opposition. Andreotti's attempt then to form a classic centre-left government with the Socialists failed, an a new general election was called for 1979.

Chamber of Deputies[edit]

Composition of the Chamber of Deputies after the election.
Party Votes % Seats +/–
Christian Democracy 14,209,519 38.71 263 –3
Italian Communist Party 12,614,650 34.37 228 +49
Italian Socialist Party 3,540,309 9.64 57 –4
Italian Social Movement 2,238,339 6.10 35 –21
Italian Democratic Socialist Party 1,239,492 3.38 15 –14
Italian Republican Party 1,135,546 3.09 14 –1
Proletarian Democracy 557,025 1.52 6 new
Italian Liberal Party 480,122 1.31 5 –15
Radical Party 394,439 1.07 4 new
South Tyrolean People's Party 184,375 0.50 3
PCIPSIPdUP 26,748 0.07 1
Others 87,014 0.24 0
Invalid/blank votes 1,045,512
Total 37,755,090 100 630 0
Registered voters/turnout 40,426,658 93.39
Source: Ministry of the Interior
Popular vote

Senate of the Republic[edit]

Composition of the Senate after the election.
Party Votes % Seats +/–
Christian Democracy 12,227,353 38.88 135
Italian Communist Party 10,637,772 33.83 116 +22
Italian Socialist Party 3,208,164 10.20 29 –4
Italian Social Movement 2,086,430 6.63 15 –11
Italian Democratic Socialist Party 974,940 3.10 6 –5
Italian Republican Party 846,415 2.69 6 +1
Italian Liberal Party 438,265 1.39 2 –6
PLIPRIPSDI 334,898 1.06 2
Radical Party 265,947 0.85 0 new
South Tyrolean People's Party 158,584 0.50 2
Proletarian Democracy 78,170 0.25 0 new
PCIPSI 52,922 0.17 1 +1
PLIPRI 51,353 0.16 0
DCRVUVUVPPRI 22,917 0.07 1
Others 65,301 0.22 0
Invalid/blank votes 1,888,027
Total 32,621,581 100 315 0
Registered voters/turnout 34,928,214 93.4
Source: Ministry of the Interior


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1048 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ While the electorate for the House had been expanded from 21-year-old citizens to 18, it had remained unvaried at 25 for the Senate.