Centre-left Coalition
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Centre-left Coalition
Centre-left coalition

Coalizione di centro-sinistra
LeaderNicola Zingaretti[1]
FounderRomano Prodi
Founded6 March 1995
Preceded by
Political positionCentre-left
European Parliament
Regional Government
Regional Councils

  1. ^ Including PD, IV, LeU, +Eu and SVP-PATT.
  2. ^ Including PD, IV, LeU, +Eu and Autonomies.

The centre-left coalition (Italian: coalizione di centro-sinistra) is a political alliance of political parties in Italy active, under several forms and names, since 1995 when The Olive Tree was formed under the leadership of Romano Prodi. The centre-left coalition ruled the country for more than twelve years between 1996 and 2018.

In the 1996 general election The Olive Tree consisted of the bulk of the left-wing Alliance of Progressives and the bulk of the centrist Pact for Italy, the two losing coalitions in the 1994 general election, the first under a system based primarily on first-past-the-post voting. In 2005 The Union was founded as a wider coalition to contest the 2006 general election, which later collapsed during the 2008 political crisis, with the fall of the Prodi II Cabinet.

In recent history, the centre-left coalition has been built around the Democratic Party, which was established in 2007 from a merger of the bulk of the parties affiliated to both The Olive Tree and The Union.


Aldo Moro in 1960s.

In 1962 the Christian Democracy (DC) leader Amintore Fanfani formed a cabinet with members of the Italian Social Democratic Party (PSDI) and the Italian Republican Party (PRI); it is considered the beginning of the Organic Centre-left.[2]

On 4 December 1963, Aldo Moro formed the first government with the support of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). Prominent Socialist politicians, such as Pietro Nenni and Antonio Giolitti, were appointed ministers. After few years the Christian Democratic leader Mariano Rumor, proposed a new government coalition composed of centre-left parties. The Rumor cabinets approved the divorce law, a new Workers' Statute, the creation of the Antimafia Commission and a reform to give more powers and autonomy to the Regions. The coalition still judged the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the Italian Social Movement as too extreme for participation in government. Internationally, the coalition relied on a strong pro-Europeanism and atlanticism from a pro-Arab policy, (Craxi and Andreotti). This fact caused many frictions between the Liberals and the Socialists, and was one of the causes of disintegration of the coalition.

After the fall of the Organic Centre-left, a new season began, with the establishment of the so-called, Historic Compromise, an Italian historical political alliance and accommodation between Christian Democrats and Communists in the 1970s. In 1973, the PCI's General Secretary Enrico Berlinguer launched in Rinascita (a communist magazine) a proposal for a "democratic alliance" with the DC, embraced by Aldo Moro. The call for this alliance was inspired by the overthrow of the Allende Government in Chile. For Berlinguer, the events in Chile proved that the Marxist left could not aspire to govern in democratic countries without establishing alliances with more moderate forces. After the 1973 Chilean coup, there was cooperation between the PCI and DC that became a political alliance in 1976. Then Berlinguer's PCI attempted to distance itself from the Soviet Union, with the launching of "Eurocommunism" along with the Spanish Communist Party and the French Communist Party.

However, the Historic Compromise was unpopular among the other moderate leftist groups like the Italian Republican Party and Italian Socialist Party, led respectively by Ugo La Malfa and Bettino Craxi. Also, the centrist Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti had doubts about the accommodation.[3] At the DC XIV Congress of 1980, the DC's moderate wing ("Democratic Initiative", "Dorothean" and "New Force") won with an anti-communist programme, obtaining the 57.7% of the vote, while the DC's conservative wing led by Benigno Zaccagnini and Giulio Andreotti's faction "Spring", ironically, obtained 42.3% with a pro-Compromise programme. The new DC Secretary became Flaminio Piccoli, a Dorothean, and the Compromise was discontinued. On November 1980 Berlinguer announced the end of the Historic Compromise.


Road to The Olive Tree

Following the 1994 general election, which was won by the centre-right coalition of Silvio Berlusconi, the left-wing Alliance of Progressives and the centrist Pact for Italy started a parliamentary cooperation, which brought in March 1995 to the foundation of The Olive Tree. The historical leader and ideologue of these coalitions was Romano Prodi, Professor of Economics and former leftist Christian Democrat, who invented the name and the symbol of The Olive Tree with Arturo Parisi in 1995.[4]

In 1995 the Lega Nord left the Pole of Freedoms and supported Lamberto Dini's technocratic government, together with the Pact for Italy and the Alliance of Progressives.

On 21 April 1996, The Olive Tree won 1996 general election in alliance with the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), making Romano Prodi the Prime Minister of Italy. The Olive Tree's largest partner was the Democratic Party of the Left, which contained the bulk of what had once been the PCI. The PDS supplied 16 ministers and 10 junior ministers-the first time that (former) Communists had taken part in government since 1947. One of their leaders, Walter Veltroni, who ran in ticket with Prodi in a long electoral campaign, was Deputy Prime Minister. On 9 October 1998, the Prodi I Cabinet fell when PRC left the alliance. Since 21 October 1998 The Olive Tree was the core of the governments led by Massimo D'Alema and by Giuliano Amato. When D'Alema became Prime Minister, it was the first time ever in both Italy and Western Europe that an heir of the communist tradition came to lead a government. On 13 May 2001, led by Francesco Rutelli, who ran in ticket with Piero Fassino, the coalition lost the general elections against Silvio Berlusconi and his House of Freedoms centre-right coalition.

The Union

The Union was the direct heir of The Olive Tree coalition. However, The Union was an heterogenous alliance that also included parties of the radical left, which were not part of The Olive Tree. Romano Prodi won the April 2006 general election by a very narrow margin due to Calderoli new electoral law, although Silvio Berlusconi first refused to acknowledge defeat. Prodi's coalition proved to be extremely frail, as the two-vote margin in the Senate allowed almost any party in the coalition to veto legislation and political views inside the coalition spanned from far-left Communist parties to Christian Democrats.

The centre-left majority coalition, on 7 May 2006, officially endorsed Giorgio Napolitano as its candidate in the presidential election that began on 8 May. The Vatican endorsed him as President through its official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, just after The Union named him as its candidate, as did Marco Follini, former secretary of the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, a member party of the House of Freedoms. Napolitano was elected on 10 May, in the fourth round of voting -- the first of those requiring only an absolute majority, unlike the first three which required two-thirds of the votes -- with 543 votes (out of a possible 1009). At the age of 80, he became the first former Communist to become President of Italy

Less than a year after he had won the elections, on 21 February 2007, Prodi tendered his resignation to President Napolitano after the government was defeated in the Senate by 2 ballots in a vote on foreign policy. On 24 February, President Napolitano invited him to return to office and face a vote of confidence. Major causes of friction inside the coalition were, the 2006 pardon Act (criticised by the right and by the Italy of Values party), a draft bill to establish civil unions (vetoed by Christian Democrats), Italy's continued involvement in Afghanistan (strongly opposed by left-wing parties), and finally the much publicised house-arrest of Clemente Mastella's wife (then a prominent politician at the regional level) over a corruption scandal. Mastella's party, UDEUR, held just enough seats in the Senate that his eventual decision to withdraw its support for the government meant the end of the legislature on February 6, 2008. Mastella, who also resigned from his office as Minister of Justice, cited the lack of personal support from his coalition partners' as one the reasons behind his decision,[5] together with a proposed reform of the electoral system which would have made it difficult for small parties like his own to gain seats in the Italian Parliament.

The foundation of the Democratic Party

Matteo Renzi in 2015.

The Democratic Party was founded on 14 October 2007 as a merger of various centre-left parties which had been part of The Union in the 2006 general election. At foundation the majority of the PD was formed by the Democrats of the Left (heirs of the Italian Communist Party) and the largely Catholic-inspired Democracy is Freedom - The Daisy.[6] Within the party, an important role is thus played by Christian leftists, who are direct heirs of the former Christian Democracy's left.[7][8][9]

After the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister in November 2011, the PD gave external support to Mario Monti's technocratic government.[10][11]

Following the 2013 general election and the 2014 European Parliament election, the PD was the largest party in the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the European Parliament, respectively. Since April 2013 Enrico Letta, a Democrat, was Prime Minister, at the head of a government sustained by a grand coalition including The People of Freedom (later replaced by the New Centre-Right), Civic Choice and the Union of the Centre (later replaced by the Populars for Italy). Following his election as party leader, in February 2014 Matteo Renzi called for "a new phase" and, consequently, the party's national board voted to ask Letta to resign.[12][13] Subsequently, Renzi was sworn in as Prime Minister at the head of the same coalition.[14] As of 2015, other than the national government, Democrats head fifteen regional governments out of twenty and function as coalition partner in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.

The 2016 constitutional referendum was supported by the majority of the centre-left coalition. Inside the centre-left coalition only UdC, FdV, ALPE, UVP, SSk and UPC campaigned for the "No" vote. The referendum was lost with 41% of "Yes" against 59% of "No" votes. After the referendum, Renzi tendered his resignation as Prime Minister and Paolo Gentiloni became his successor.

In the 2018 general election the centre-left, with Renzi as leader, obtained its worst result ever: 22.9% of the vote, well behind the centre-right coalition and the M5S. Following the defeat, Renzi resigned from secretary of the PD[15] and his deputy Maurizio Martina started functioning as acting secretary.

In 2019, the PD formed a coalition with the Five Star Movement (M5S) and Free and Equal (LeU), which was supported by the members of the centre-left coalition in 2018.

The Olive Tree (1995-2005)


In the 1996 general election and during the Prodi I Cabinet the coalition was composed of nine parties:

  1. ^ Six minor associate parties of the PDS would merge with that party in 1998: the Labour Federation, the Social Christians, the Republican Left, the Movement of Unitarian Communists, the Reformists for Europe, the Italian Democratic Socialist Party and the Democratic Federation, the latter a regional party in Sardinia.
  2. ^ a b c d The three parties contested the election in the Populars for Prodi joint list, along with the South Tyrolean People's Party (see below).
  3. ^ a b c The three parties contested the election in a joint list named after Italian Renewal and the Democratic Italian Movement.

The coalition had six regional partners:

  1. ^ a b The two parties contested the senate election in a joint list.

The coalition was externally supported by:

The Olive Tree had an electoral agreement with the PRC,[16] under which some single-seat constituencies were reserved to the party, which ran under the banner of the Alliance of Progressives, the left-wing coalition (including the PDS and the PRC) which contested the 1994 general election.


In 1998 the Communist Refoundation Party brought down the Prodi II Cabinet.[17] with a splinter faction forming the Party of Italian Communists.[18] In 1998-2001, during the two governments led by Massimo D'Alema (I Cabinet and II Cabinet, 1998-2000) and the one led by Giuliano Amato (Amato II Cabinet, 2000-2001), the coalition was composed of eight parties:

  1. ^ The party did not participate in D'Alema II Cabinet and briefly formed The Clover coalition, along with the Italian Republican Party and the Union for the Republic.
  2. ^ Until February 1999.
  3. ^ Since May 1999.

2001 general election

In the 2001 general election the coalition, led by Francesco Rutelli, was composed of nine parties:

  1. ^ a b c d e The four parties contested the election within the Democracy is Freedom - The Daisy (DL) joint list.
  2. ^ a b The two parties contested the election in The Sunflower joint list.
  3. ^ New Country was a lista civetta.

The coalition had nine regional partners:

2004 EP election

In the 2004 European Parliament election, the United in the Olive Tree joint list, was composed of four parties:

The coalition had six regional partners:

The Union (2005-2008)

2006 general election

In the 2006 general election the coalition was composed of thirteen parties:

  1. ^ a b c The three parties contested the election within The Olive Tree joint list. In 2007 they would form the Democratic Party.
  2. ^ a b The two parties contested elections within the Rose in the Fist joint list.
  3. ^ a b c d e The liberal and secular lists were supported by the Federation of Liberals.
  4. ^ Including the Democratic Republicans.
  5. ^ Including the Christian Democracy, The Liberals-Sgarbi and the Southern Democratic Party.
  6. ^ The PSDI contested the election within The Olive Tree joint list, but the PSDI did not join the Democratic Party.

The Union was supported by the Autonomists for Europe and the New Action Party.

The coalition had eleven regional partners:

  1. ^ Also including the Vallée d'Aoste Vive, the Alternative Greens and the Valdostan Renewal.
  2. ^ a b Founding members of the Democratic Party.

PD-led coalitions (2008-present)

2008 general election

In the 2008 general election the coalition, led by Walter Veltroni,[22] was composed of three parties:

Alliance only in South Tyrol:

  1. ^ Also including the Italian Radicals, the European Republicans Movement, the Moderates and the Slovene Union (see below).[23] The negotiations with the Federation of Liberals failed.
  2. ^ It was supported by the most regional sections of the Italian Democratic Socialist Party like Tuscany for the Chamber of Deputies and include the Mancini List.

The coalition had four regional partners:

  1. ^ Also including the Vallée d'Aoste Vive, the Alternative Greens and the Valdostan Renewal.
  2. ^ a b The PD, IdV, the PS, the PATT, the CM and the SVP contested the senate election in a joint list in South Tyrol.[24]

2013 general election

In the 2013 general election, the coalition ran as Italy. Common Good under the leadership of Pier Luigi Bersani,[25] and was composed of four parties:

  1. ^ Also including Slovene Union (see below).[23]
  2. ^ Also including Alliance for Italy and Rights and Freedom.

The coalition had five regional partners:

  1. ^ Associate party of Left Ecology Freedom.

Negotiations with Democratic Union for Consumers failed.[26]

2018 general election

In the 2018 general election the coalition is composed of four electoral lists:

  1. ^ Including the Moderates (see below).
  2. ^ Including the Italian Radicals, Forza Europa, the Democratic Centre and Progressive Area.
  3. ^ Including the Italian Socialist Party, the Federation of the Greens and Civic Area.
  4. ^ Includes Popular Alternative, Italy of Values, the Centrists for Europe, Solidary Democracy, the Union for Trentino (see below) - loosely affiliated to Solidary Democracy at the national level -, Italy is Popular, the Christian Popular Union and Popular Italy.

The coalition has seven regional partners:

The Centre-left coalition was also supported by the Ladin Autonomist Union[27] and the Slovene Union.[28]

Popular support

Electoral results

Italian Parliament

Chamber of Deputies
Election year Votes % Seats +/- Leader
1996 16,355,985 (2nd) 43.6
Increase 110
Romano Prodi
2001 16,209,944 (2nd) 43.5
Decrease 75
Francesco Rutelli
2006 19,036,986 (1st) 49.8
Increase 101
Romano Prodi
2008 13,689,303 (2nd) 37.5
Decrease 109
Walter Veltroni
2013 10,047,603 (1st) 29.5
Increase 106
Pier Luigi Bersani
2018 7,506,723 (3rd) 22.9
Decrease 223
Matteo Renzi
Senate of the Republic
Election year Votes % Seats +/- Leader
1996 14,548,006 (1st) 44.6
Increase 44
Romano Prodi
2001 13,282,495 (2nd) 39.2
Decrease 41
Francesco Rutelli
2006 17,118,364 (2nd) 49.2
Increase 30
Romano Prodi
2008 12,457,182 (2nd) 38.7
Decrease 28
Walter Veltroni
2013 9,686,683 (1st) 31.6
Decrease 3
Pier Luigi Bersani
2018 6,947,199 (3rd) 23.0
Decrease 69
Matteo Renzi

Regional Councils

Region Election year Votes % Seats +/-
Aosta Valley[a] 2018 20,464 32.1
Decrease 5
Piedmont 2019 1,027,886 (2nd) 33.3
Decrease 20
Lombardy 2018 1,414,674 (2nd) 29.1
Decrease 3
South Tyrol[a] 2018 73,512 25.9
Increase 5
Trentino 2018 63,350 (2nd) 24.8
Decrease 15
Veneto 2020 TBA TBA
Friuli-Venezia Giulia 2018 110,217 (2nd) 26.1
Decrease 14
Emilia-Romagna 2020 1,040,482 (1st) 48.1
Decrease 3
Liguria 2020 TBA TBA
Tuscany 2020 TBA TBA
Marche 2020 TBA TBA
Umbria[b] 2019 153,784 (2nd) 36.8
Decrease 7
Lazio 2018 867,393 (2nd) 34.2
Decrease 4
Abruzzo 2019 183,630 (2nd) 30.6
Decrease 13
Molise 2018 27,314 (3rd) 18.8
Decrease 11
Campania 2020 TBA TBA
Apulia 2020 TBA TBA
Basilicata 2019 96,000 (2nd) 33.2
Decrease 8
Calabria 2020 227,598 (2nd) 29.2
Decrease 9
Sicily 2017 488,939 (3rd) 25.4
Decrease 26
Sardinia 2019 214,660 (2nd) 30.1
Decrease 18
  1. ^ a b In Aosta Valley and South Tyrol the centre-left coalition ran divided.
  2. ^ In Umbria the centre-left coalition ran with the Five Star Movement.

See also


  1. ^ As leader of the main party.
  2. ^ "Il centro-sinistra e i governi Moro". Archived from the original on 2018-05-08. Retrieved .
  3. ^ Fallaci, Oriana (1974). Intervista con la storia. Rizzoli.
  4. ^ "Ulivo, L' nell'Enciclopedia Treccani". www.treccani.it.
  5. ^ BBC, 16 January 2008 Italian justice minister resigns(in English)
  6. ^ Hans Slomp (2011). Europe, a Political Profile: An American Companion to European Politics. ABC-CLIO. p. 406. ISBN 978-0-313-39181-1. Retrieved 2013.
  7. ^ Vespa, Bruno (2010). Il Cuore e la Spada: Storia politica e romantica dell'Italia unita, 1861-2011. Mondadori. p. 650.
  8. ^ Augusto, Giuliano (8 December 2013), "De profundis per il Pd", Rinascita, archived from the original on 1 March 2014
  9. ^ Gioli, Sergio (19 November 2013), "Ultimo treno a sinistra", Quotidiano.net
  10. ^ "Via libera definitivo a Monti "Clima nuovo, ce la faremo"". Corriere della Sera. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 2013.
  11. ^ "Camera, fiducia ampia Il Pdl: esecutivo di tregua, l' Ici si può riesaminare". Corriere Della Sera. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 2013.
  12. ^ "Italian PM Enrico Letta to resign", The Guardian
  13. ^ "Renzi liquida Letta: "Via dalla palude" Venerdì il premier al Quirinale per le dimissioni", Corriere.it
  14. ^ Rubino, Monica, "Il governo Renzi ha giurato al Colle, è in carica. Gelo con Letta alla consegna della campanella", Repubblica.it
  15. ^ "Dimissioni Renzi: La guida del partito va a Martina - Corriere.it".
  16. ^ Giuseppe Ieraci (2008). Governments and Parties in Italy: Parliamentary Debates, Investiture Votes and Policy Positions (1994-2006). Troubador Publishing Ltd. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-906221-72-0.
  17. ^ Giuseppe Ieraci (2008). Governments and Parties in Italy: Parliamentary Debates, Investiture Votes and Policy Positions (1994-2006). Troubador Publishing Ltd. p. 87. ISBN 978-1-906221-72-0.
  18. ^ Gianfranco Pasquino (2002). "The political context 1996-2001". In James L. Newell (ed.). The Italian General Election of 2001: Berlusconi's Victory. Manchester University Press. pp. 33-. ISBN 978-0-7190-6100-4.
  19. ^ "Trieste, Illy si dimette correrà per la Camera - la Repubblica.it". Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ "Camera dei Deputati - XIV legislatura - Deputati - La scheda personale". leg14.camera.it.
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "Berlusconi declares election win". BBC News. 14 April 2008.
  23. ^ a b "Partito Democratico e Slovenska skupnost di nuovo insieme". Bora.La. February 20, 2013.
  24. ^ "Svp e Insieme per le autonomie firmano il "patto di Salorno"(". 5 March 2008. Retrieved 2008.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "Italian election results: gridlock likely - as it happened". Guardian. 26 February 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  26. ^ "Programma per la protezione dei Consumatori". Archived from the original on 2014-05-22. Retrieved .
  27. ^ "Union Autonomista Ladina". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018.
  28. ^ "Vodstvo SSk se je sestalo z neodvisnim kandidatom za senat Riccardom Illyjem". www.slovenskaskupnost.org. Retrieved 2018.

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