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Paolo Bellucci and Martin Bull

In May 2001, for the first time in the history of united Italy and,

therefore, for the first time in the history of the Italian Republic,

alternation in government occurred as a direct consequence of an

electoral victory of the opposition. The incumbent centre left government

(the Ulivo – Olive Tree Coalition, led by Francesco

Rutelli) was defeated, and a centre right coalition (the Casa delle

Libertà, or CDL – House of Freedoms, led by Silvio Berlusconi)

began governing Italy with a large parliamentary majority.

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Paolo Bellucci and Martin Bull

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.

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Paolo Bellucci, Marco Maraffi and Paolo Segatti

The first Congress of the Democrats of the Left (DS), which took

place in Turin 13-16 January 2000, represented another stop in the

transformation of the former Italian Communists (PCI). The new

leader of the party – Walter Vetroni who followed Achille Occhetto

and Massimo D’Alema – tried to change the party’s politics, organization,

and culture. He planned these alterations to affirm a new

political strategy.