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Unione di Centro UDC
Union of Christian and Center Democrats
(Unione dei Democratici Cristiani e di Centro, UDC)

The Union of Christian and Center Democrats (Unione dei Democratici Cristiani e di Centro, UDC) is a Christian-Democratic Italian political party. It was led by Lorenzo Cesa, although its most popular figure and practical leader was Pier Ferdinando Casini. UDC is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and of the Centrist Democrat International (CDI), of which Pier Ferdinando Casini was President. The party, which was part of the Pole/House of Freedoms from 1994 to 2008, was affiliated neither to the center-right nor the center-left at the national level and stood in opposition to Berlusconi IV Cabinet. Despite this UDC takes part with the center-right to several regional, provincial and municipal governments.

The earthquake that shook Italian politics in the early 1990s scattered the Christian Democrats into rival camps. The UDC's leader in 2005, Marco Follini, and his friends sided with Berlusconi; others chose to ally with the left. The prime minister's followers had long feared that Follini's ambition was to reunite the wings of Christian Democracy into a movement that could recapture the middle ground-perhaps after a Berlusconi defeat and a spell in opposition. Italy's halting progress towards a more liberal economy and a two-party democracy on Anglo-Saxon lines may be in question, since both would be blocked by the re-creation of an all-embracing Christian Democrat party. The UDC, like the National Alliance, is rooted in the poorer, more welfare-dependent, south where fears about Berlusconi's agenda have been heightened by another part of his program: a constitutional reform that would boost the autonomy (and also the resources) of the richer, more entrepreneurial north.

Although it is the most vocal supporter of social conservatism in Italy (opposition to abortion, gay rights and euthanasia are some of its main concerns) and can be easily connected with the Christian right, UDC is usually identified with the political center in Italy, thanks to its Christian Democratic roots, and was an independent-minded and often reluctant member of the House of Freedoms coalition.

The Economist describes the UDC as a right-wing, sometimes reactionary party, which "stretches a long way from the centre". Moreover, it wrote that many UDC members are "diehard corporatists who get most of their votes from the south, where many households depend either on welfare or on public-sector employment." Indeed the party is stronger in the South and especially in Sicily, where public-sector employment is widely spread.

The christian-democrat Union of the Center was formed mostly by the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC) headed by Pier Ferdinando Casini, alongside the smaller White Rose, Party of Christian Democracy, and Christian Democratic Party as coalition partners. Casini's UDC was invited by Berlusconi to join Il Popolo della LibertÓ but decided against the move. The conservative christian-democrats are generally wary of Berlusconi who, through the media outlets he owns, introduced what can only be described as light pornography onto Italian television. The UDC is particularly influenced by the social encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII and is widely perceived to be the party closest to the Vatican.




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