Radical Party (Italy, 1877)

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For the party founded in 1955, see Radical Party (Italy).
Radical Party
Partito Radicale
Historical leader Ernesto Nathan
Francesco Saverio Nitti
Founded May 27, 1904 (1904-05-27)
Dissolved April 26, 1922 (1922-04-26)
Preceded by The Extreme
Merged into Democratic Liberal Party
Headquarters Rome, Italy
Ideology Radicalism (Italy)
Political position Left-wing
International affiliation None
Colours      Green (official)
     Dark red (customary)
Politics of Italy
Political parties

The Radical Party (Italian: Partito Radicale, PR), whose official name was Italian Radical Party (Partito Radicale Italiano), was a radical political party active in the Kingdom of Italy from the last decades of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.


The PR was founded in 1904 by Francesco Saverio Nitti, as successor of the Historical Far-Left.

Leading Radicals included Ernesto Nathan (mayor of Rome with the support of the Italian Socialist Party and the Italian Republican Party from 1907 to 1913), Romolo Murri (a Catholic priest who was suspended for having joined the party and who is widely considered in Italy the precursor of Christian democracy), and Francesco Saverio Nitti. Under the leadership of the latter, the Radicals became part of the governing coalition dominated by the Liberals of Giovanni Giolitti, who had positioned his party in the centre-left and supported many Radical reforms, while the Radicals moved to the political centre. Nitti himself was Minister of the Treasury from 1917 to 1919 and Prime Minister from 1919 to 1920.[1][2] In the 1919 general election the Radicals filed joint candidates with the Liberals in 54% of the constituencies.[3]

The Radicals, who obtained their best result in the 1913 general election (8.6% and 73 seats in the Chamber of Deputies) were strong in Lombardy (where Carlo Cattaneo was from), notably in the northern Province of Sondrio and the south-eastern Province of Mantua, northern Veneto and Friuli, Emilia-Romagna and Central Italy, especially around Rome. In the 1900s and the 1910s the Radicals had lost votes to the Socialists in Emilia and to the Republicans in Romagna, but strengthened their position in Veneto, notably holding for almost twenty years the single-seat constituencies of Venice and Padua, and in Southern Italy, where they were previously virtually non-existent. For the 1921 general election the Radicals joined forces with several minor liberal parties in order to form the Democratic Liberal Party. The list gained 10.5% of the vote and 68 seats, doing particularly well in Piedmont and the South.[3]

After World War II some former Radicals led by Nitti joined the National Democratic Union alongside Liberals and other elements of the political bloc that governed Italy from the years of Giovanni Giolitti until the rise of Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime. The Radicals, who were once the far left of the Italian political spectrum, were finally associated with the old Liberal establishment, which was replaced by Christian Democracy as the leading political force in the country. Some left-wing elements of the old PR took however part to the foundation of the Action Party, while a new Radical Party was launched in 1955 by the left-wing of the Italian Liberal Party. These new Radicals, whose long-time leader was Marco Pannella, claimed to be the ideological successors of Cavallotti's Radicals.[1][2]

Electoral results[edit]

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1895 142,356 (#3) 11.7
47 / 508
Ernesto Nathan
1897 102,670 (#3) 8.3
42 / 508
Ernesto Nathan
1900 89,872 (#4) 7.1
34 / 508
Ernesto Nathan
1904 128,002 (#4) 8.4
37 / 508
Ernesto Nathan
1909 181,242 (#3) 9.9
48 / 508
Francesco Saverio Nitti
1913 522,522 (#3) 10.4
62 / 508
Francesco Saverio Nitti
1919 110.697 (#7) 2.0
12 / 508
Francesco Saverio Nitti


  1. ^ a b Massimo L. Salvadori, Enciclopedia storica, Zanichelli, Bologna 2000
  2. ^ a b David Busato, Il Partito Radicale in Italia da Mario Pannunzio a Marco Pannella, 1996
  3. ^ a b Piergiorgio Corbetta; Maria Serena Piretti, Atlante storico-elettorale d'Italia, Zanichelli, Bologna 2009