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People of Freedom (Il Popolo della Liberta, PdL)

The People of Freedom (Il Popolo della Liberta, PdL) is a center-right political party in Italy. The party was launched by Silvio Berlusconi on 18 November 2007 and officially founded in a party congress on 27-29 March 2009, when Forza Italia merged with National Alliance. The transformation of the PdL from an electoral alliance into a real party was the latest milestone in his triumphant advance. At its own congress on 22 March 2009, the National Alliance (AN), which grew out of Italy's neo-fascist movement, formally wound itself up and merged with Berlusconi's old party, Forza Italia.

Berlusconi was elected President of the party and Sandro Bondi, Ignazio La Russa and Denis Verdini national coordinators. In coalition with Lega Nord and the Movement for Autonomies, the party formed Italy's government. Berlusconi had long said his dream was to create a single party of the right. But the anti-immigrant Northern League remained independent. The new PdL is the dominant movement on the right, comparable to the left's Democratic Party, pushing Italy nearer to a two-party system.

On 2 December 2006, during a major demonstration of the center-right in Rome against the government of Romano Prodi, Silvio Berlusconi proposed the foundation of a "Freedom Party", stressing that voters of the different parties were all part of a "people of freedom". On 21 August 2007 Michela Vittoria Brambilla, Berlusconi's protégé and President of the Circles of Freedom, registered the name and symbol of the new party on Berlusconi's behalf.

At that time, none of Berlusconi's allies seemed keen on joining the new party; it was also not yet absolutely clear when Forza Italia would be dismantled to merge into the new party. Berlusconi also claimed that one of the aims of the creation of a Freedom Party would be to enlarge the House of Freedoms alliance. On 27-29 March 2009 the party held its first congress and was officially founded.Berlusconi was elected President of the party and Sandro Bondi, Ignazio La Russa and Denis Verdini national coordinators.

National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale, AN)

National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale, AN) was a conservative political party in Italy. Gianfranco Fini was the leader of the party since its foundation in 1995, however he stepped down in 2008 after being elected to the nominally non-partisan post of President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and was succeded by Ignazio La Russa, who managed to merge the party into The People of Freedom (PdL). This finally happened in 2009.

The Alleanza Nazionale was originally the Italian Social Movement (MSI), the main fascist party of the post-war period. The MSI evolved during the 1990s into a more mainstream party defending the family, law and order, and opposing mass immigration. During the Cold War the Italian Social Movement (MSI) was at the far right of Italian politics. The neo-fascist party was clandestinely formed in the 1940's by former officials of the Mussolini regime. The supporters of the extreme right were significant in the immediate postwar period from the Allies' point of view, not as destabilizing agents but rather as a source of stability. The most important contribution of the right wing to the new Italian Republic was vigorous anti-communism; suitably purified and sanitized, fascism delivered both a core of administrative personnel, trained under the fascist dictatorship, to support the civil service, the judiciary and the armed forces. It also provided the support of right-wing industrialists and landowners for the new regime. Associated with the integration of these potentially destablisning elements were the emergence and continued survival of an extreme right-wing party, the MSI, which throughout the postwar period had been a parliamentary pariah, and whose policy towards the constitution and the political system was clearly condemnatory.

Forza Italia

Major Italian political parties, beset by scandal and loss of voter confidence, underwent far-reaching changes in the 1990s. New political forces and new alignments of power emerged in March 1994 national elections. The election saw a major turnover in the new parliament, with 452 out of 630 deputies and 213 out of 315 senators elected for the first time. The 1994 elections also swept media magnate Silvio Berlusconi -- and his Freedom Pole coalition -- into office as Prime Minister. Berlusconi is not used to being questioned by his followers. He created Forza Italia as a vehicle for his own ambition. At the start, most of its top people were his employees. Berlusconi, however, was forced to step down in January 1995 when one member of his coalition withdrew support.

National elections, held on May 13, 2001, returned Berlusconi to power at the head of the five-party center-right Freedom House coalition, comprising the prime minister's own party, Go Italy (Forza Italia), the National Alliance (Alleanza Nazionale), the Northern League (Lega Nord), the Christian Democratic Center (Centro Cristiano Democratico) and the Christian Democratic Union (Cristiani Democratici Uniti). Prime Minister Berlusconi took office on June 11, 2001, at the head of a center-right coalition government with a solid majority in Parliament. He succeeded Giuliano Amato, who led a center-left government. This Berlusconi government served its entire term.

The government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi swept into office aided by general public disappointment with the center-left and supported by the Northern League [Lega Nord], the northern regional party whose highest priority is greater fiscal independence from the central government. Despite anemic economic growth most of this decade, voters did not apparently charge Berlusconi with structural reform of the economy that could increase business creation, production and employment.

In its campaign platform, Berlusconi's government promised more extensive economic reform. Some criticize the government for failing to use its solid majority in both houses to follow through on those promises in a meaningful way, although the center-right coalition has pushed through some initial, and long-overdue, labor market reforms.

PM Berlusconi's Forza Italia party experienced setbacks, vis-à-vis its coalition partners, in June 2004 European Parliament and local elections. Despite the ensuing turmoil in the coalition, some observers still predict this government could be the first in Italy's post-war history to last its entire five-year term. In May 2004, the Berlusconi government surpassed the previous record (held by the 1983-86 Bettino Craxi government) for the longest tenure of any post-war Italian government.

In national elections held April 9-10, 2006, Romano Prodi's center-left Union coalition won a narrow victory over Berlusconi's Freedom House coalition. In January 2008, the Prodi government fell when small coalition partner UDEUR withdrew support. In February 2008, the President dissolved parliament and Silvio Berlusconi launched an alliance between his Forza Italia party and Gianfranco Fini's National Alliance. The parties ran together under the People of Liberty symbol in April 2008. Silvio Berlusconi returned to power after defeating former Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni by a comfortable margin in elections on April 13-14, 2008. Berlusconi's winning coalition was composed of the People of Liberty (a union of Forza Italia and National Alliance), the Northern League, and the Movement for Autonomy. Berlusconi was sworn in as Prime Minister on May 8.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:01:06 ZULU