The Pope Knows Best: Religious Political Parties

Another student guest blog on Italian politics, this time looking at Italy’s party system.


Since the creation of the Italian state in 1946, the Church has been the center of life in Italy. Italy actually has the Church written into their constitution and the Church holds a large role in politics.  However, Italy has been undergoing some major changes concerning control over the last 20 years, which have led to the rise of diverse regional and right wing political parties, six of which hold more than five seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

The common thread between Italian political parties is their dedication to their religion. The majority of the parties in power have strong Christian backgrounds.  There is only one major party of the Left, the Democratic Party (PD) and it too has a strong tie with the Church.  They have 217 seats in parliament and 33.2% of the vote.

The middle ground in Italian politics is kind of hazy and covers a lot of ground.  There are four parties that sit in the middle, and three of which say they are Christian Democrats, meaning they are conservative except they want to help the society as a whole as well. The first of these Christian parties is, the Union of the Center, which has 36 seats and 5.6% of the vote.   The next is the Movement for Autonomy, which has 8 seats and 1.1% of the vote.  The last party is the People of Freedom Party (PDL), which was created by Berlusconi in 2009.   The PDL is kind of a catchall party where people’s views vary on several topics, but they all share the same dedication to Christian Democratic views.  That might explain why they have the largest majority in the parliament at 276 seats and 37.4% of the vote.  The only party of the middle that does not share the focus on Christianity is the Italy of Values Party, whose interest is in having politics without corruption.  They sit at only 29 seats and 4.4% of the vote, leaving the ChristianDemocrats with a very large sphere of influence over the middle.

The one outlier on the far right is the Northern League. They have sometimes even been called Neo-fascist in their beliefs. This party is an example of the regional parties that have surfaced in the last few years and it holds 60 seats and 8.3% of the vote.  But overall, the members of this party have been a part of coalitions with the PDL and have strengthened the hold of the Christian Democrats on Italian politics.

Based on where the political parties lie now, it is safe to say, the Christian Democratic ideals are not going anywhere anytime soon and will most likely remain a major player in Italian politics.

References

IPU PARLINE database: ITALY (Camera dei Deputati), Last elections. (n.d.). Object Moved. Retrieved from http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2157_E.htm

Movimento politico Lega Nord per l’indipendenza della Padania: Programmi ed iniziative del partito. (2012). Movimento Politico Lega Nord per L’indipendenza Della Padania: Programmi Ed Iniziative Del Partito. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from http://www.leganord.org/

Parties and Elections in Europe. (n.d.). Parties and Elections in Europe. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from http://www.parties-and-elections.de/italy.html

PD â Partito Democratico. (2012). Sito Ufficiale Del PD. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from http://www.partitodemocratico.it/

Rosa, S. (n.d.). IL POPOLO DELLA LIBERTAâ. PdL. Retrieved March 6, 2012, from http://www.ilpopolodellaliberta.it

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