Italian general election, 1983

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Italian general election, 1983
1979 ←
26 June 1983 → 1987

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 88.0%
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Ciriaco De Mita.jpg Enrico Berlinguer.jpg Bettino Craxi-1.jpg
Leader Ciriaco De Mita Enrico Berlinguer Bettino Craxi
Party Christian Democracy Communist Party Socialist Party
Leader since 1982 1972 1976
Leader's seat XXIV - Eastern Campania XX - Latium III - Milan
Last election 262 & 138 seats, 38.3% 201 & 109 seats, 30.4% 62 & 32 seats
Seats won 225 (H)
120 (S)
198 (H)
107 (S)
73 (H)
38 (S)
Seat change Decrease55 Decrease5 Increase17
Popular vote 12,153,081 11,032,318 4,223,362
Percentage 32.9% 29.9% 11.4%
Swing Decrease5.4% Decrease0.5% Increase1.5%

Italia Election 1983 Province.png

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

Prime Minister before election

Amintore Fanfani
Christian Democracy

Elected Prime Minister

Bettino Craxi
Socialist Party

General elections were held in Italy on 26 June 1983.[1] The Pentaparty formula, the governative alliance between five centrist parties, caused unexpected problems to Christian Democracy. The alliance was fixed and universal, extended both to the national government and to the local administrations. Considering that the election result did not longer depend by the strength of the DC, but by the strength of the entire Pentapartito, centrist electors began to look at the Christian Democratic vote as not necessary to prevent a Communist success. More, voting for one of the four minor parties of the alliance was seen as a form of moderate protest against the government without giving advantages to the PCI. Other minor effects of this election were a reduction of the referendarian Radical Party and the appearance of some regional forces.

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 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.

Historical background[edit]

Rescue teams making their way through the rubble after the explosion in Bologna.

On 2 August 1980, a bomb killed 85 people and wounded more than 200 in Bologna. Known as the Bologna massacre, the blast destroyed a large portion of the city's railway station. This was found to be a fascist bombing, mainly organized by the NAR, who had ties with the Roman criminal organization Banda della Magliana. In the following days the central square of Bologna, Piazza Maggiore, hosted large-scale demonstrations of indignation and protest among the population, in which were not spared harsh criticism and protests addressed to government representatives, who attended the funerals of the victims celebrated in the San Petronio Basilica on 6 August.

In 1981 at a meeting of the Congress of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), was officially launched a centrist political alliance called Pentapartito, when the Christian Democrat Arnaldo Forlani and Socialist Secretary Bettino Craxi signed an agreement with the "blessing" of Giulio Andreotti. Because the agreement was signed in a trailer, it was called the "pact of the camper." The pact was also called "CAF" for the initials of the signers, Craxi-Andreotti-Forlani. With this agreement, the DC party recognized the equal dignity of the so-called "secular parties" of the majority (i.e., the Socialists, Social Democrats, Liberals and Republicans) and also guaranteed an alternation of government (in fact, Giovanni Spadolini of the PRI and Bettino Craxi of the PSI became the first non-Christian Democrats to hold the Presidency of the Council). With the birth of the Pentapartito, the possibility of the growth of the majority toward the Italian Communist Party (PCI) was finally dismissed. The Christian Democrats remained the leaders of the coalition, and managed several times to prevent representatives of the secular parties from becoming President of the Councill.

Parties and leaders[edit]

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


Regional pluralities in Senate

The DC respected the pact of an alternance of leadership between the parties of the alliance and accepted the Socialist secretary, Bettino Craxi, as the new Prime Minister of Italy. The Christian Democrats hoped that their minor responsibility could drive away some popular discontent from their party. The Italian Socialist Party so arrived to the highest office of the government for the first time in history. Differently from the DC, which had an oligarchic structure, the PSI was strongly ruled by its secretary, so the Craxi's premiership resulted the longest one without any political crisis in post-war Italy, despite some international tensions with the United States about the Palestine Liberation Organization. Craxi formed a renewed government in 1986, but could not survive in 1987 to a dispute with DC's secretary Ciriaco De Mita, who was searching and effectively obtained an early national election, ruled by an electoral Christian Democratic government with old Amintore Fanfani as PM.

Chamber of Deputies[edit]

Summary of the 26 June 1983 Chamber of Deputies election results
Italian Chamber of Deputies, 1983.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Christian Democracy 12,153,081 32.93 225 −37
Italian Communist Party 11,032,318 29.89 198 −3
Italian Socialist Party 4,223,362 11.44 73 +11
Italian Social Movement 2,511,487 6.81 42 +12
Italian Republican Party 1,874,512 5.08 29 +13
Italian Democratic Socialist Party 1,508,234 4.09 23 +3
Italian Liberal Party 1,066,980 2.89 16 +7
Radical Party 809,810 2.19 11 −7
Proletarian Democracy 542,039 1.47 7 +7
National Pensioners Party 503,461 1.36 0 New
South Tyrolean People's Party 184,940 0.50 3 −1
Liga Veneta 125,311 0.34 1 New
List for Trieste 92,101 0.25 0 −1
Sardinian Action Party 91,923 0.25 1 +1
Aosta Valley coalition (UVUVPDP) 26,086 0.08 1 ±0
Others 158,360 0.42 0 ±0
Invalid/blank votes 2,282,177
Total 39,188,182 100 630 ±0
Registered voters/turnout 44,526,357 88.01
Source: Ministry of the Interior
Popular vote

Senate of the Republic[edit]

Summary of the 26 June 1983 Senate of the Republic election results
Italian Senate, 1983.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Christian Democracy 10,077,204 32.41 120 −18
Italian Communist Party 9,577,071 30.81 107 −2
Italian Socialist Party 3,539,593 11.39 38 +6
Italian Social Movement 2,283,524 7.35 18 +5
Italian Republican Party 1,452,279 4.67 10 +4
Italian Democratic Socialist Party 1,184,936 3.81 8 −1
Italian Liberal Party 834,771 2.69 6 +4
Radical Party 548,229 1.76 1 −1
National Pensioners' Party 370,756 1.19 0 New
Proletarian Democracy 327,750 1.05 0 New
South Tyrolean People's Party 157,444 0.51 3 ±0
PLIPRI 127,504 0.41 1 ±0
PLIPRIPSDI 100,218 0.32 1 ±0
Liga Veneta 91,171 0.29 1 New
List for Trieste 85,542 0.28 0 ±0
Sardinian Action Party 76,797 0.25 1 +1
PLIPSDI 72,298 0.23 0 ±0
For the Renewal of Molise 33,525 0.11 0 New
Others 148,399 0.50 1 ±0
Invalid/blank votes 2,313,128
Total 33,402,139 100 315 ±0
Registered voters/turnout 37,603,817 88.83
Source: Ministry of the Interior
Popular vote


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1048 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7