After the ‘Honourable Defeat’: The DS, Margherita and Ulivo

in Italian Politics
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The defeat of the Olive Tree Coalition (Ulivo), led by the former

Mayor of Rome, Francesco Rutelli, in the May 2001 general election

had a considerable impact on the trajectory of the centre left,

notably with regard to its two principal ‘legs’ – the Democrats of

the Left (DS) and the Margherita (Daisy) – and on the debate over

how the Ulivo should develop as a coalition in the future. Yet if the

electoral defeat was meant to galvanise the coalition and press on

it the urgency of the need for unity, external events exposed the

continuing fragility and division in the centre left, raising significant

questions about its viability as a coherent force. This chapter,

after briefly outlining the nature of the electoral defeat of May

2001, assesses the subsequent course of the coalition’s two main

constituents, before concluding with an assessment of the

prospects for the Ulivo as a whole.