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Democratic Party (Partito Democratico, PD)

Former prime minister Matteo Renzi won the leadership of Italy's ruling Democratic Party (PD) in a primary election 30 April 2017, propelling him back to the forefront of the national political scene. Renzi, 42, resigned as prime minister in December 2016 after Italians overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional referendum aimed at streamlining the parliamentary system. Some two million people voted and Renzi himself had set the bar for success at one million voters. Renzi's win was announced by him and his two rivals -- Justice Minister Andrea Orlando and Michele Emiliano -- well ahead of the end of counting. According to preliminary estimates, Renzi bagged 70 percent of the vote.

The Democratic Party (Partito Democratico, PD) is a center-left political party founded on 14 October 2007 as a merger of various left-wing and centrist parties which were part of The Union in the 2006 general election. Several parties merged into the Democratic Party, however its bulk was formed by the Democrats of the Left and centrist Democracy is Freedom - The Daisy [ Margherita ]. The first leader of the party was Walter Veltroni, who was elected secretary in an open primary. After leading the party to a number of electoral defeats, including the 2009 Sardinian regional election, Veltroni resigned as leader on 17 February 2009. The Constituent Assembly subsequently convened on 21 February 2009 and elected Dario Franceschini as the new secretary.

A series of center-left coalitions dominated Italy's political landscape between 1996 and 2001. In April 1996, national elections led to the victory of a center-left coalition (the Olive Tree) under the leadership of Romano Prodi. In May 1996, the center-left Ulivo (Olive Tree) coalition government, led by Prime Minister Romano Prodi, took power. Although the coalition's largest component is the New Democratic Party of the Left, an offshoot of the former Communist Party of Italy, the Prodi government has continued Italy's long-standing commitment to NATO and to bilateral military cooperation with the United States.

In 1997 party leader Massimo D'Alema called for the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS - Partito Democratico della Sinistra) to become more of a European social-democratic party, and in 1998 the Democrats of the Left was formed with the merger of the PDS, Labour Federation, Social Christians, Republican Left, Unitarian Communists, Reformists for Europe and Democratic Federation. The party replaced the hammer and sickle of its emblem with the red rose of European social democracy.

Prodi's government became the third-longest to stay in power before he narrowly lost a vote of confidence (by three votes) in October 1998. A new government was formed by Democratic Party of the Left leader and former-communist Massimo D'Alema. Like Prodi's government, D'Alema's coalition included the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), the Italian People's Party (PPI), the newly created Italian Communist Party (split from the Communist Renewal in October 1998) and other small, center-left groups. In April 2000, following a poor showing by his coalition in regional elections, D'Alema resigned. The succeeding center-left government, including most of the same parties, was headed by Giuliano Amato, who previously served as Prime Minister in 1992-93.

Under the center-left government coalition, Italy succeeded in meeting criteria for entry into the European Monetary Union, pursuing responsible budgets, conservative fiscal policies and privatization. This success was built in part on a tripartite agreement committing Italian employers and unions to an income policy that generated a period of economic stability. In December 1998, government, unions and employers renewed their commitment to a "Social Pact" that, among other provisions, reduced tax burdens on workers and employers to encourage new investment and reduce unemployment. Unions and the current center-right government, in particular, have found it difficult to forge similar partnerships.

Former Rome Mayor Francesco Rutelli was the center-left Olive Tree coalition's designated candidate for Prime Minister in the 2001 elections and headed the centrist Daisy coalition. The other, larger, main component of the Olive Tree was the Democrats of the Left (DS).

The Prodi government presided in 2007 over the contested sale of a controlling stake in Telecom Italia to a consortium of Italian banks and Spain's Telefonica. A US bidder, given the opportunity to put a deal together, withdrew from the competition after intervention from various government political figures made it clear that purchase conditions were liable to change and that a US bidder was viewed unfavorably in many quarters. While Prodi applauded the outcome, the deal prompted US Ambassador Ronald Spogli to publicly call on the Italian government for greater transparency in such transactions and to urge a more welcoming attitude toward investment. On November 21, 2007 officials unveiled the symbol of the new Democratic Party, a center-left formation created in 2007 that aims to become Italy's largest party. The symbol, presented in Rome to a soundtrack of U2's "Beautiful Day," features the letters PD - standing for the party's name in Italian, Partito Democratico - in the white, red and green of the Italian flag. It also has an olive branch in honor of the Olive Tree coalition that was a forerunner to the party.

In a dramatic vote of confidence in the Senate on 24 January 2008, Italian prime minister Romano Prodi came up short and resigned shortly thereafter. He was able to garner just 156 yeas against 161 nays in the upper house of the Italian parliament. Deep divides over a wide range of issues, like foreign policy, fiscal policy and electoral reform, had long been simmering within Prodi's ruling coalition, which brought together parties ranging from Christian democratic centrists to left wingers, among over 20 individual parties with seats in parliament. The crisis which ultimately brought down Prodi's government was triggered by the withdrawal of the UDEUR party and the centrist Liberal Democrats. The UDEUR party chief and ex-Justice Minister, Clemente Mastella, made the move after his wife was put under house arrest and himself named in a corruption probe. The party only had three votes in the Senate, but Prodi's majority was just a single seat.

The Democratic Party is a big tent center-left party, strongly influenced by the ideas of social democracy and the Christian left. The common roots of the founding components of the party reside in the Italian resistance movement, the writing of Italian Constitution and the Historic compromise, all three events which saw the Christian Democrats and the Italian Communist Party (the two major forerunners of the Democrats of the Left and Democracy is Freedom - The Daisy, respectively) cooperate. The Democratic Party in the United States and American liberalism are also an important source of inspiration for the party, that is postured to be somehow different from the other European center-left parties.

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Page last modified: 01-05-2017 18:54:39 ZULU