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Chris Hanretty and Alex Wilson

Writing in this annual two years ago, Marc Lazar discussed the birth of

the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party). Like many births, that of

the PD was characterized by trepidation and optimism in similar doses.

Yet the party was in government and had, in Walter Veltroni, a leader

who was backed by an overwhelming majority of party sympathizers.

Two years later, the PD is in much poorer health. It is now out of government,

has performed badly in sub-national and European elections, and

has a new leader, Pierluigi Bersani, who does not command the support

of an overwhelming majority and may indeed antagonize some of the

party’s right-leaning members. The PD is either a sickly child or, in the

recent judgment of Francesco Rutelli, was never actually born at all.

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Mattia Guidi

The rise of Matteo Renzi is one of the most significant political events of the year. This chapter analyzes Renzi's leadership of the Partito Democratico (PD), looking at both the internal politics of the party and the party's position within the Italian party system. Within the PD itself, Renzi has brought take-it-or-leave-it proposals to the party executive, which has upset a vocal minority. More broadly, Renzi has moved the party to the center on the left-right scale, while adopting a more expansionary fiscal stance, effectively marginalizing other parties. The chapter concludes that the most serious opposition to Renzi today may come from within his own party.

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Rinaldo Vignati

January

1 Fiat announces the 100 percent acquisition of Chrysler.

2 In a letter to the other political leaders, Matteo Renzi, the secretary of the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party), presents three proposals for electoral reform: a revamped Mattarellum electoral system, the Spanish system, and Sindaco d’Italia (Mayor of Italy).

4 Offended by a remark made by Renzi, Stefano Fassina (PD) resigns as vice-minister of the economy.

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Chris Hanretty and Stefania Profeti

In the summer of 2010, in an interview given to the newspaper La Repubblica, the then little-known mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, erupted onto the political scene by claiming that it was time for the Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party) to take a large number of the party’s leading figures to task—or, to use the phrase that would

soon become a battle cry, to “bulldoze” (rottamare) them from the picture. The interview was considered by many in the party to be arrogant and excessively self-aggrandizing—or at least incautious. Yet from that moment on, and probably thanks to this message, Renzi has been able to capture to an ever-greater degree the dissatisfaction and frustrations of a large number of center-left activists and sympathizers, while attracting the curiosity of a large number of Italians of all political persuasions.

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Stefano Braghiroli and Luca Verzichelli

Looking through a chronology of 2010, it is objectively difficult to find

one event that brings the two center-left parties represented in Parliament

into the center of the Italian political debate as leading players.

In spite of the obvious and growing difficulties for the government

majority—with Silvio Berlusconi’s leadership looking seriously shaky,

possibly for the first time since 1994—the opposition parties have not

seemed able to develop sufficient synergies and strategies to convince

public opinion of the existence of a credible alternative government.

Only one and a half years after the elections that had given the newly

born Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party) and its then coalition

partner, Antonio Di Pietro’s Italia dei Valori (IdV, Italy of Values), the

responsibility of being a real alternative to the powerful Berlusconiled

center-right, the political picture looked radically changed, but the

path ahead of the two parties appeared to be even more hazardous.

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Brunetta Baldi and Filippo Tronconi

The regional elections of 28–29 March 2010 saw the indisputable victory

of the center-right, which took over the presidency of four regions that

had previously been held by the center-left, but they also brought about

significant changes in the power relations within the two main groupings.

The Partito Democratico (PD, Democratic Party) and the Popolo

della Libertà (PdL, People of Liberty) emerged from the elections noticeably

weakened, while there were gains for other alliance members

within the coalitions. The Lega Nord (LN, Northern League), which for

the first time took over the presidency of two important regions (Piedmont

and Veneto), made the greatest gains, but the results were also

good for Italia dei Valori (IdV, Italy of Values), which succeeded in gaining

a more or less stable vote after its excellent showing in the previous

general and European elections.

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Francesco Raniolo

This chapter deals with the political crisis of the Italian center-right that started with the fall of the Berlusconi IV government and the 2013 general elections. In 2015, the struggle for leadership of the center-right took place between Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, resulting in the reversal of the balance of power between Forza Italia and the Lega Nord. Based on election results and some electoral surveys, Lega Nord seems to have become the third party at the national level and, through a process of radicalization, also the party of the new Italian right. From an organizational point of view, Salvini’s leadership can be defined as a personalized and postmodern media leadership. The systemic risks of this scenario are the absence of a center-right party that can compete with the Partito Democratico led by Matteo Renzi, the growing fragmentation of the center-right, and the conflict between moderate and radical tendencies. All these factors challenge the return to an alternating democracy.