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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