Liberalism and radicalism in Italy

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Background[edit]

The formation of political groups in the 19th century in divided Italy is based upon personalities, like Camillo di Cavour and Giuseppe Mazzini. Both the Historical Right (Destra Storica) and the Historical Left (Sinistra Storica) were composed of monarchist liberals, while radicals organised themselves as the Radical Party and republicans as the Italian Republican Party. Only in the 1920s, the Liberals around Giovanni Giolitti formed their party, the precursor of the Italian Liberal Party. After the end of World War II both Liberals and Republicans reorganised themselves, followed by more liberal parties in the upcoming decades.

Liberalism was strongly divided after the shake up of Italian politics, following the Tangentopoli scandal and the subsequent Mani Pulite. Nowadays a broad group of parties, not all included, tend to use the label liberal. Liberals are now divided over the centre-right Forza Italia (successor of the former Forza Italia, itself primarily a merger of liberal and Christian-democratic forces, and The People of Freedom) and the centre-left Democratic Party (a merger of social democrats, progressive Christian democrats and social liberals). Then there are some minor liberal parties: the formerly centre-left - nowadays centre-right - Italian Republican Party (former ELDR member) and the Italian Radicals (ALDE and Liberal International member).

Also the centrist-populist Italy of Values is a member of ALDE Party, although it is very difficult to classify it as a liberal party in whichever sense.

Most members of the late Italian Liberal Party (refounded as a very small party in 2004, see Italian Liberal Party of 2004) and many former Republicans joined Forza Italia, which was often presented and defined in Italy as a liberal party, and the other parties of the House of Freedoms coalition. This is the reason why the term 'liberals' is more often used when speaking of the centre-right, now dominated by Forza Italia's successor party, The People of Freedom, which tries to combine economic liberalism with freedom of conscience on ethical matters.

Timeline[edit]

The Radical Party (1877)[edit]

  • 1877: Progressive liberals left the Historical Left (Sinistra Storica) and formed the Radical Party (Partito Radicale).
  • 1926: The party was banned but many members remained politically active.

The Italian Republican Party[edit]

  • 1895: The Mazzinisti organised themselves into the Italian Republican Party (Partito Repubblicano Italiano, PRI).
  • 1926-1943: The PRI was banned, but continued its activities in exile.
  • 1946: A faction of the Action Party, the Republican Democratic Party (Movimento Democratico Repubblicano), joined the party, followed by other members of the PdA.
  • 2001: The party joined the centre-right House of Freedoms coalition of Silvio Berlusconi.
  • 2003: A progressive liberal faction formed the European Republicans Movement (Movimento Repubblicani Europei).
  • 2011: The European Republicans Movement re-merged with the PRI.

The Italian Liberal Party[edit]

The National Union and the opposition to Fascism[edit]

  • 1924: Anti-fascist liberals formed the National Union (Unione Nazionale).
  • 1926: The party was banned.

The Action Party and the Italian Resistance[edit]

From the Radical Party (1955) to the Italian Radicals[edit]

From Forza Italia to The People of Freedom and back to Forza Italia[edit]

From Democratic Alliance to the Democratic Party[edit]

Civic Choice and European Choice[edit]

Liberal leaders[edit]

Liberal thinkers[edit]

In the Contributions to liberal theory the following Italian thinkers are included:

See also[edit]