Italian Radicals

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Italian Radicals
Radicali Italiani
Leader Emma Bonino
Secretary Riccardo Magi
President Antonella Soldo
Treasurer Michele Capano
Founder Marco Pannella
Founded 14 July 2001
Headquarters Via di Torre Argentina, 76
00186 Rome
Newspaper Quaderni radicali,
Notizie Radicali,
Radio Radicale (FM radio)
Membership (2007) 1,841[1]
Ideology Liberalism[2]
Left-libertarianism[citation needed]
National affiliation none
European affiliation Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
International affiliation none
European Parliament group Non-Inscrits (2001–04)
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (2004–09)
Chamber of Deputies
0 / 630
0 / 315
European Parliament
0 / 73

The Italian Radicals (Italian: Radicali Italiani, RI) are a political party in Italy, which describes itself as a "liberale, liberista e libertario" (liberista means economic liberal or, better, libertarian in the American sense; libertario, here, denotes a form of cultural liberalism concerning moral issues, with some ideological connection with historical left-libertarianism).[citation needed]

From 2001 to 2017 the party intended to be the Italian section of the Transnational Radical Party (TRP), that is to say the continuation of the Radical Party founded in 1955 by the left-wing of the Italian Liberal Party and re-launched in the 1960s by Marco Pannella. As the Radical Party had become a transnational NGO working mainly at the UN-level, which by statute could not participate in national elections, its Italian members organised themselves into the Pannella List between 1992 and 1999 and the Bonino List until 2001, when they established the RI. In 2017 the TRP broke with the RI.

Founded on 14 July 2001 (with Daniele Capezzone as their first secretary), the RI are a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party.[4] The party was previously a full member of the Liberal International.[5]

According to its constitution, the party "as such and with its symbol does not take part in elections".[6]



Radical leader Marco Pannella (right) with Enzo Tortora (left), 1985

The Radical Party was long a left-libertarian movement in Italy, often proposing itself as the most extreme opposition to the Italian political establishment. When Silvio Berlusconi entered the political arena in 1994, the Radicals, who were then organised mostly into the Pannella List and were attracted by Berlusconi's proposed economic liberalism, supported him, albeit critically and without becoming directly involved in his centre-right governments, in the hope of a "liberal revolution" as opposed to the conservative and statist political establishment represented by traditional parties.[citation needed]

The relationship between the Radicals and Berlusconi, whose allies included socially conservative groups at odds with the Radicals' cultural liberalism, soon ended up. In the 1999 European Parliament election, the Bonino List obtained 8.7% of the vote and seven MEPs, including Emma Bonino, Marco Pannella, Marco Cappato and Benedetto Della Vedova. However, the Radicals were not able to convert that electoral success into a more stable political influence.[citation needed]

Road to the new party[edit]

Shortly after the 1999 election, they deserted Berlusconi's proposal of welcoming them back into the centre-right fold and formed the "Committee of Radicals for the Liberal Revolution and the United States of Europe", led by Cappato, instead. In the run-up of the 2000 regional elections, the opposite happened: Berlusconi's conservative allies posed a veto on the Radicals, who wanted to re-compose the alliance; consequently, they ran independent bids in most regions, obtaining elects only in Piedmont and Lombardy.

Finally, in 2001, after a crushing defeat in the general election (only 2.3% of the vote and no seats), they re-organised themselves as Italian Radicals and elected 28-year-old Daniele Capezzone as secretary, and Della Vedova, Rita Bernardini and Luca Coscioni as joint presidents.

In the run-up to the 2005 regional elections, the Radicals understood that their isolation was no longer sustainable and took the unprecedented step of contextually asking to join either the centre-right House of Freedoms or the centre-left The Union, regardless of their respective political platforms. The request was turned down by both.

The Rose in the Fist[edit]

Launch of Rose in the Fist, 2006

In November 2005 the Radicals formed an alliance with the Italian Democratic Socialists (SDI),[7] becoming de facto members of The Union coalition for the 2006 general election. The "rose in the fist", that the Radical Party had bought from the French Socialist Party and is the symbol of the Socialist International (which included the SDI), was chosen for the joint list, that was thus named Rose in the Fist (RnP). This decision led those Radicals who were more keen on an alliance with the centre-right to split: this group, led by Della Vedova, launched the Liberal Reformers and joined the House of Freedoms, eventually merging into Berlusconi's Forza Italia.

In the election the list won a mere 2.6% of the vote, much less than the combined support for the two parties before the alliance (the Radicals alone got 2.3% in the 2004 European Parliament election). The Radicals lost voters in their strongholds in the North to Forza Italia, while the Socialists lost ground in their southern heartlands to The Olive Tree parties (see electoral results of the RnP). After the election, Bonino was sworn in as Minister of European Affairs and International Trade in the Prodi II Cabinet.

In November 2006, after a row with Pannella, who was still the party's real leader, Capezzone was forced not to run again for secretary and was replaced by rank-and-file Bernardini. Since then, Capezzone, although not leaving officially the party, became very critical of the government and formed his own political association named Decide!, much closer to the centre-right than to the centre-left. Later on, Capezzone entered Forza Italia and became the party's spokesman.

In November 2007, the RnP was disbanded as the SDI merged with minor "Socialist" parties to form the modern-day Italian Socialist Party, and the Radicals were at a new turning-point of their history. In the run-up of the 2007 congress, Pannella declared that the party should "give absolute priority to economic, liberal and libertarian reforms rather than the civil struggle to Vatican power, prepotency and arrogance",[8][9] which had been central in 2006. This did not mean a reconciliation with the centre-right.

Within the Democratic Party[edit]

In the 2008 general election the Radicals stood for re-election in list with the Democratic Party (PD). Under an agreement with PD's leader Walter Veltroni, six deputies and three senators were elected. After the election, Bonino was appointed Vice President of the Senate and the Radicals joined the PD's parliamentary groups. In June Bernardini, Maria Antonietta Coscioni and Elisabetta Zamparutti, all three elected MPs, were replaced by Antonella Casu, Bruno Mellano and Michele De Lucia as secretary, president and treasurer, respectively.[10] In November the new leadership was confirmed by the national congress.[11]

In the 2009 European Parliament election the Radicals ran separately from the PD as the Bonino-Pannella List. Having obtained 2.4% of the vote, they failed to return any MEPs. In November Mario Staderini replaced Casu as secretary.[12]

Bonino ran for President of Lazio for the centre-left coalition in the 2010 regional election, but was defeated by Renata Polverini.

Out of Parliament[edit]

In January 2013 the party announced that it would contest the upcoming general election on a stand-alone electoral list called Amnesty, Justice and Freedom (Aministia, Giustizia, e Libertà).[13][14] In the election, the party received 0.2% of the vote, returning no deputies and senators.[15][16] However, in April, after two months of failed attempts at forming a new government, thanks to her international standing and Pannella's lobbying efforts, Bonino was sworn in as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Letta Cabinet. The cabinet lasted until 22 February 2014, when it was replaced by the Renzi Cabinet, which did not include Bonino.

In November 2013 the party elected a new leadership: Bernardini secretary, Laura Arconti president and Valerio Federico treasurer.[17] The party did not take part in the 2014 European Parliament election, partly due to lack of funds.

In November 2015, during the annual party congress, Riccardo Magi was elected secretary and Cappato president. Pannella, who did not speak at the congress, opposed the change, while Bonino, who was no longer in good terms with the old leader, did not even take part in the congress.[18][19][20][21] However, in the following months, Bonino decided to side with Magi and Cappato, who launched "Radical" lists for the 2016 municipal elections in Rome and Milan,[22][23] in a move opposed by the leadership of the TRP, especially Maurizio Turco. The lists obtained 1.2%[24] and 1.9%,[25] respectively and, in both cases, supported the candidates put forward by the PD, either in the first or the second round.

Pannella's death and split[edit]

In May 2016 Pannella, who had long suffered from cancer, died and Italian politicians from across the entire political spectrum paid tribute to him.[26][27]

In the event, the party found itself increasingly divided in two factions: on one side Magi, Cappato and Staderini (who were backed by Bonino), on the other Turco, Bernardini, and most of the staff of Radio Radicale (who were closer to the late Pannella). The former focused more on Italian politics and elections, while the latter were more interested in the activity of the Transnational Radical Party (TRP) and no longer in playing an active role in elections (as suggested by Pannella).[28][29]

The fracture was evident in September 2016 at the congress of the TRP, during which the faction of Turco and Bernardini soundly beat the other wing.[30][31][32][33] At the November 2016 congress, in turn, the RI confirmed Magi as secretary, while electing Antonella Soldo as president and Michele Capano as treasurer.[34][35]

In February 2017 the TRP severed its links with the RI (who were accused of boycotting the TRP), and the latter were forced out of the Radical headquarters.[36][37][38][39][40]


The Italian Radicals are an atypical party for Italy and they are typically viewed as leftist by right-wing people, and rightist by left-wing people. Among other things, they are the only Italian party with a clear anti-clerical agenda, whereas most other parties either support the Catholic Church or are ambivalent.

They are vocal supporters of human and civil rights, which they consider to include abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, artificial insemination, stem cell research, abolition of capital punishment all around the world and legalisation of soft drugs. This put the party at odds with the mainstream centre-right parties. On the other hand, their strong support of libertarian policies, the free market, liberalizations, privatizations, low taxes and privately funded health care put it at odds with the centre-left.

In foreign policy, the Radicals are instinctively and staunchly pro-American, pro-European Union and were in favour of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999.

They have long proposed an American-style reform of Italian political system, including presidentialism, competitive federalism and first-past-the-post voting. Despite being a small party, they have also been keen supporters of the introduction of a two-party system.

Electoral results[edit]

Italian Parliament[edit]

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2006 990,694 (#7) 2.6
7 / 630
Emma Bonino
2008 with PD
6 / 630
Decrease 1
Emma Bonino
2013 64,732 (#19) 0.2
0 / 630
Decrease 6
Marco Pannella
Senate of the Republic
Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2006 851,604 (#9) 2.5
0 / 315
Emma Bonino
2008 with PD
3 / 315
Increase 3
Emma Bonino
2013 63,149 (#18) 0.2
0 / 315
Decrease 3
Marco Pannella

European Parliament[edit]

Election year # of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2004 731,536 (#9) 2.3
2 / 72
Decrease 5
Emma Bonino
2009 743,284 (#8) 2.4
0 / 72
Decrease 2
Emma Bonino
2014 no participation
0 / 72



See also[edit]


  1. ^ (in Italian)
  2. ^ a b James L. Newell (2010). The Politics of Italy: Governance in a Normal Country. Cambridge University Press. pp. 42, 218, 219. ISBN 978-0-521-84070-5. 
  3. ^ Raphaël Kies (2010). Promises and Limits of Web-deliberation. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-230-10637-6. 
  4. ^ ALDE Party members | ALDE Party
  5. ^ Radicali Italiani - Italy - Full Members - Members - Liberalism
  6. ^
  7. ^ André Krouwel (2012). Party Transformations in European Democracies. SUNY Press. p. 326. ISBN 978-1-4384-4483-3. 
  8. ^ Archived October 11, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ vasco_pirri_ardizzone. "". Retrieved 2011-02-24.  External link in |title= (help)
  10. ^
  11. ^ "7° CONGRESSO RADICALE: SCINTILLE A CONGRESSO, MA CASU RESTA SEGRETARIA - Clandestinoweb: sondaggi politici, elettorali. Il sondaggio politico elettorale che fa opinione". Clandestinoweb. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  12. ^ "Radicali italiani a congresso Staderini nuovo segretario - Politica". 2009-11-15. Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  14. ^ Liste, i simboli presentati sono 215: è record. Domani le esclusioni - Il Messaggero
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ XII Congresso di Radicali italiani – “Riconquistare giustizia, democrazia, legalità. Quali lotte, quali mezzi, quale soggetto politico?” | Dalle associazioni | Radicali italia...
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  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
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  33. ^
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  35. ^
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  37. ^
  38. ^
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External links[edit]