Italian general election, 1996
|Legislative election results map. Red denotes provinces with a Democratic Socialist plurality, Azure denotes those with a Forza Italia plurality, Blue denotes those with a National Alliance plurality, Green denotes those with a Lega Nord plurality, Yellow denotes those with a Populars plurality, Cyan denotes those with a Christian Democratic plurality.|
A snap national general election was held in Italy on April 21, 1996 to elect members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic. The Olive Tree coalition leader Romano Prodi won the election, narrowly defeating Silvio Berlusconi, who led the Pole for Freedoms coalition.
For the election, the Lega Nord of Umberto Bossi ran alone, after having left the Berlusconi I Cabinet in 1994, causing a crisis who drove President of Italy Oscar Luigi Scalfaro to appoint a technocratic cabinet led by Lamberto Dini, which in turn lost its Parliamentary support in 1995, forcing Scalfaro to dissolve the Italian Parliament. The Communist Refoundation Party, led by Fausto Bertinotti, instead made a pre-electoral alliance with The Olive Tree, presenting its own candidates, supported by Prodi's coalition, mainly in some safe leftist constituencies, in exchange for supporting Olive Tree candidates on the other ones, and ensuring external support for a Prodi government.
The intricate electoral system of Italy, nicknamed as Mattarellum (after Sergio Mattarella, who was the official proponent), provided a 75% of the seats on the Chamber of Deputies (the Lower House) as elected by a plurality voting system, whereas the remaining 25% was assigned by proportional representation with a minimum threshold of 4%. If possible, the method associate on the Senate was even more complicated: 75% of seats by uninominal method, and 25% by a special proportional method that actually assigned the remaining seats to minority parties.
In December 1994, following the communication of a new investigation from Milan magistrates that was leaked to the press, Umberto Bossi, leader of the Lega Nord, left the coalition claiming that the electoral pact had not been respected, forcing Berlusconi to resign from office and shifting the majority's weight to the centre-left side. Lega Nord also resented the fact that many of its MPs had switched to Forza Italia, allegedly lured by promises of more prestigious portfolios.
Berlusconi remained as caretaker prime minister for a little over a month until his replacement by a technocratic government headed by Lamberto Dini. Dini had been a key minister in the Berlusconi cabinet, and Berlusconi said the only way he would support a technocratic government would be if Dini headed it. In the end, however, Dini was only supported by most opposition parties but not by Forza Italia and Lega Nord.
In December 1995 Dini resigned as Prime Minister and the President of the Republic, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, decided to begin consultations to form a government, substained by all the parties in the Parliament to make constitutional reforms. Favorably to this proposal sided both, in a TV debate on 19 January 1996, Silvio Berlusconi and the leader of the Democratic Party of the Left Massimo D'Alema. Although there were many problems on this theme in both coalition: in fact Gianfranco Fini and Romano Prodi wanted a snap election, not sure that the reforms would be helpful for the country. On 16 February 1996, a snap election was called.
On 19 February 1996, the outgoing Prime Minister Lamberto Dini announced that he would run in the election with a new party with The Olive Tree and not with the Pole of Freedoms. Shortly after Berlusconi adfirmed that Dini "copied our electoral program".
Another important declaration was Umberto Bossi's one: the leader of the regionalist-party Lega Nord, which was very important in 1994 to help Berlusconi winning the election, said that his party would not support Berlusconi anymore and run alone in the election. At the same time, Prodi's coalition made an important pre-electoral agreement with Communist Refoundation Party in which Fausto Bertinotti's party undertook to support Prodi's government after the election in the case of a no-majority Parliament.
On 25 March 1996, Berlusconi organized a great manifestation in Milan against taxes (The Tax Day) attended by lot of Milanese artisans; on the same day, in Turin, Prodi was heavily contested during his electoral speech and accused of not wanting to lower taxes.
Parties and leaders
Coalitions and electoral lists
|Political force or alliance||Constituent lists||Leader|
|Democratic Party of the Left (Partito Democratico della Sinistra)||
|Populars for Prodi (Popolari per Prodi)|
|Italian Renewal (Rinnovamento Italiano)|
|Federation of the Greens (Federazione dei Verdi)|
(Polo per le Libertà)
|Forward Italy (Forza Italia)||
|National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale)|
|Christian Democratic Centre – United Christian Democrats (Centro Cristiano Democratico – Cristiani Democratici Uniti)|
|Northern League (Lega Nord)||
(Partito della Rifondazione Comunista)
|Communist Refoundation Party (Partito della Rifondazione Comunista)||
|Pannella-Sgarbi List (Lista Pannella-Sgarbi)||
On election day, Prodi's coalition won over Berlusconi's one, becoming the first coalition composed by a post-communist party to win general election since the Second World War. In the Senate The Olive Tree obtained the majority but in the Chamber it needed the external support of Communist Refoundation Party.
Chamber of Deputies
|Democratic Party of the Left||21.06||7,894,118||26|
|Communist Refoundation Party||8.57||3,213,748||20|
|Populars for Prodi (PPI-UD-PRI-SVP)||6.81||2,554,072||4|
|Christian Democratic Centre - United Christian Democrats||5.84||2,189,563||12|
|Federation of the Greens||2.50||938,665||0|
|Southern Action League||0.19||72,062||0|
|Union for South Tyrol||0.15||55,548||0|
|We Sicilians - National Sicilian Front||0.11||41,001||0|
|Sardinian Action Party||0.10||38,002||0|
|Freedom Independence Group||0.05||17,451||0|
|Pact for the Sour||0.03||12,297||0|
|Italian Rebirth Movement||0.02||8,886||0|
|Tuscan Autonomist Movement||0.02||8,627||0|
|Natural Law Party||0.02||8,298||0|
|Development and Legality||0.01||5,347||0|
|Autonomy Free North||0.01||4,965||0|
|Risorgimento of the South||0.01||3,084||0|
|Parties and coalitions||%||Votes||Seats|
|Pole for Freedoms||40.09||15,027,030||169|
|The Olive Tree||38.54||14,447,548||228|
|The Olive Tree - Lega Autonomia Veneta||2.66||997,534||14|
|The Olive Tree - Sardinian Action Party||0.72||269,047||4|
|South Tyrolean People's Party||0.42||156,708||3|
|Southern Action League||0.22||82,373||1|
Senate of the Republic
|Parties and coalitions||%||Votes||Seats|
|The Olive Tree||39.89||13,013,276||152|
|Pole for Freedoms||37.35||12,185,020||116|
|The Olive Tree - Sardinian Action Party||1.29||421,331||5|
|The Fir - SVP - PATT||0.55||178,425||2|
|League for Autonomy - Lombard Alliance||0.33||106,313||0|
|We Sicilians - National Sicilian Front||0.22||71,841||0|
|Southern Action League||0.20||66,750||0|
- (Italian) Minister of Internal Affairs of Italy: 1996 Election Results, Chamber of Deputies (compressed ZIP file)
- (Italian) Minister of Internal Affairs of Italy: 1996 Election Results, Senate of the Republic (compressed ZIP file)