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Centre right in Italy

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Centre-right in Italy

The Centre-right appears in Italy for the first time in 1850 when the Historical Right leader Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour and the Historical Left one, Urbano Rattazzi, joined a coalition known as Connubio. The other main political bloc is the Centre-left. Important leaders of the Italian centre-right were Silvio Berlusconi, Gianfranco Fini, Umberto Bossi, Pier Ferdinando Casini, Fernando Tambroni and Angelino Alfano.


Tambroni government

In 1960, sponsored by President Giovanni Gronchi, the Christian Democratic leader Fernando Tambroni formed a cabinet and became Prime Minister. Tambroni's politics soon appeared strongly right-wing: having abandoned the alliance with the Italian Socialist Party, he was elected with votes coming also from the post-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI), the liberals and the monarchists. On 21 May 1960, a street assembly led by the communist leader was stopped by police, with the support of the government. This caused a series of riots.

The most controversial decision of his mandate, however, was the permission to MSI to hold its national congress in Genoa, one of the capitals of Italian Resistance against Fascism. This move was considered a further and unacceptable opening to the former Fascists of the doors of the government. On 30 June 1960, a large demonstration summoned by the left-wing CGIL trade union and by other leftist forces in the streets of Genoa was heavily suppressed by the Italian police. Other popular demonstrations in Reggio Emilia, Rome, Palermo, Catania, Licata again saw violent intervention by the police, causing several deaths. Eventually, after grievances coming also from some sectors of Democrazia Cristiana, Tambroni was forced to resign, having been in charge only 116 days.

Pole of Freedoms

In 1994, the media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, previously very close to the Socialist Prime Minister Bettino Craxi and even having appeared in commercials for the Italian Socialist Party, was studying the possibility of making a political party of his own to avoid what seemed to be the unavoidable victory of the left wing at the next elections. Only three months before the election, he presented, with a televised announcement, his new party, Forza Italia. Supporters believe he wanted to avert a communist victory, opponents that he was defending the ancién regime by rebranding it. Whatever his motives, he employed his power in communication (he owned, and still owns, all of the three main private TV stations in Italy) and advanced communication techniques he and his allies knew very well, as his fortune was largely based on advertisement.

Berlusconi managed, in a surprise move, to ally himself both to National Alliance and Lega Nord, without these being allied with each other. Forza Italia teamed up with the League in the North, where they competed against National Alliance, and with National Alliance in the rest of Italy, where the League was not present. This unusual coalition configuration was caused by the deep hate between the League, which wanted to separate Italy and held Rome in deep contempt, and the nationalist post-fascists; on one occasion, Bossi encouraged his supporters to go find National-Alliance supporters "house by house," suggesting a lynching (which however did not actually take place).

In the 1994 general election, Berlusconi's coalition won a decisive victory over Occhetto's one, becoming the first center-right coalition to win general election since the Second World War. In the popular vote, Berlusconi's coalition outpolled the Alliance of Progressive by over 5.1 million votes. Pole of Freedoms won in the main regions of Italy.

Pole for Freedoms

Pole for Freedoms was formed as a continuation of the Pole of Freedoms and Pole of Good Government coalitions, which had both supported the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi at the 1994 general election: the Pole of Freedom was constituted by Forza Italy and Lega Nord, the Pole of Good Government by Forza Italia and the National Alliance. After that, Lega Nord left the coalition at the end of 1994, the centre-right was forced to reform itself: in 1995, in occasion of the regional elections, an organic alliance was formed. In 1996 it was officially named "Pole for Freedoms" and debuted in the 1996 general election; however, it was defeated by the centre-left alliance The Olive Tree, whose leader was Romano Prodi.

House of Freedoms

The House of Freedoms was the successor of the Pole of Freedoms/Pole of Good Government and the Pole for Freedoms.

In the run-up of the 2001 general election, after a six-year spell in opposition, which Berlusconi called "the crossing of the desert", he managed to re-unite the coalition under the "House of Freedoms" banner. According to its leader, the alliance was a "broad democratic arch, composed of the democratic right, namely AN, the great democratic centre, namely Forza Italia, CCD and CDU, and the democratic left represented by the League, the New PSI, and the Italian Republican Party.

The CdL won the 2001 general election by a landslide and, consequently, the Berlusconi II Cabinet was formed. In government, FI, whose strongholds included Lombardy as well as Sicily, and the LN, which was active only in the Centre-North, formed the so-called "axis of the North", through the special relationship between three Lombards leaders, Berlusconi, Giulio Tremonti and Umberto Bossi; on the other side of the coalition, AN and the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC), the party emerged from the merger of the CCD and the CDU in late 2002, became the natural representatives of Southern interests.

In 2003 the CdL was routed in local elections by The Olive Tree and the LN threatened to pull out. Also the 2004 European Parliament election were disappointing for FI and the coalition as a whole, even though AN, the UDC and the LN did better than five years before. As a result, Berlusconi and FI were weaker within the CdL.

In 2005 the coalition lost heavily in regional elections, losing six of the eight regions it controlled. The defeat was particularly damaging in the South, while the only two regions which the coalition managed to keep, Lombardy and Veneto, were in the North, where the LN was decisive . This led to a government crisis, particularly after the UDC pulled its ministers out. A few days later, the Berlusconi III Cabinet was formed with minor changes from the previous cabinet.

In the 2006 general election the CdL, which had opened its ranks to a number of minor parties, lost to The Olive Tree.

The People of Freedom

The People of Freedom, launched by Silvio Berlusconi on 18 November 2007, was initially a federation of political parties, notably including Forza Italia and National Alliance, which participated as a joint election list in the 2008 general election. The federation was later transformed into a party during a party congress on 27–29 March 2009.

The PdL formed Italy's government from 2008 to 2011 in coalition with Lega Nord. After having supported Mario Monti's technocatic government in 2011–2012, the party was part of Enrico Letta's government of grand coalition with the Democratic Party, Civic Choice and the Union of the Centre. Alfano functioned as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior.

In June 2013 Berlusconi announced Forza Italia's revival and the PdL's transformation into a centre-right coalition. On 16 November 2013 the PdL's national council voted to dissolve the party and start a new Forza Italia; the assembly was deserted by a group of dissidents, led by Alfano, who had launched the alternative New Centre-Right party the day before.


Centre-right in Italy Wikipedia