Political Parties & Coalitions of Italy

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  • 0:03 Join the Party
  • 0:50 A Little History
  • 1:27 Today's Parties
  • 4:00 Historical Coalitions
  • 5:00 Modern Coalitions
  • 5:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amy Troolin

Amy has MA degrees in History, English, and Theology. She has taught college English and religious education classes and currently works as a freelance writer.

In this lesson, we will explore Italy's political parties. We will examine some party history, meet some of the current parties, and take a look at a few historical and modern coalitions.

Join the Party

Parties, parties, and more parties. Italy's political landscape is filled with them. Some of them stand alone. Some form coalitions and work together to reach particular goals. Some fall on the political right, some on the political left, and some in the center. They all have dedicated members who work hard to win elections and influence the political scene. Indeed, Italy's political parties play a key role in the nation's political system because national and regional elections use the proportional representation model, in which voters actually vote for a party or coalition instead of an individual candidate.

In this lesson, we're going to meet Italy's primary political parties and study a few coalitions that operate today or have existed in the past.

A Little History

First, however, let's study a little history of political parties in Italy. After World War II, Italy's political landscape was dominated by three major parties: the Christian Democrats, which tended to come out on top most of the time; the Italian Communist Party; and the Italian Socialist Party. That changed in the 1990s when scandal broke, investigations revealed deep corruption and illegal actions in the system, and the major parties were forced to dissolve. Political leaders then instituted a series of election reforms that opened the door for the development of new parties and especially encouraged the formation of coalitions to help the parties work together.

Today's Parties

Now let's meet today's primary Italian political parties. Please remember, though, that Italy's party scene changes quickly and that parties often disappear and are replaced by new parties almost in the blink of an eye.

Italy's Democratic Party is headed by Matteo Renzi, who became Prime Minister in February of 2014. It falls slightly left of center on the political spectrum, and many of its members come from former left and center parties. One of its major goals is reforming Italy's constitution.

Another Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, founded Forza Italia in 1994. The party, whose name translates as 'Forward Italy,' blends liberal and conservative ideas and advocates a mix of individual freedoms and traditional values. Some analysts have called Forza Italia a 'catch-all party.'

Established in 2009, the Five Star Movement, which is led by comedian Beppe Grillo, is a populist party that calls for direct democracy, non-violence, and simplification of the government. Its five stars refer to its five major issues: sustainable transportation, connectivity, proper development, public water systems, and environmentalism.

The League of the North advocates regional autonomy for Northern Italy and stands by a strongly conservative platform.

Civic Choice was founded in 2013 to advocate the ideas and reform agenda of former Prime Minister Mario Monti. Its ideology falls in the center of the political spectrum.

Left Ecology Freedom calls for the 'common good' of Italy and advocates a blend of democracy and socialism. It specifically supports same-sex marriage, a minimum income law, and ecological endeavors.

Union of the Center, which was founded in 2008, is a Christian conservative party that takes a firm stance against abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage.

Remember that these are just a few of Italy's political parties. The nation also supports many other minor parties, including the Italian Socialist Party, Green Italy, Democratic Centre, The Right, the Workers' Communist Party, the Federation of the Greens, Christian Democracy, and the Italian Radicals.

Historical Coalitions

With so many parties to split up the vote, no one would ever win a majority if parties with similar interests didn't join together to form coalitions. In the past, left-leaning parties worked together in the Olive Tree Coalition, which was formed in 1995 with a rather odd mix of socialists, ex-communists, centrists, liberals, and environmentalists. Together, they called for educational reform, spreading more power to local governments and providing public aid to struggling areas. The coalition outlived its usefulness by 2007.

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