From the Democrazia Cristiana to the Archipelago of Catholic and Centrist Parties

Authored by: Mark Donovan

The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Italy

Print publication date:  May  2015
Online publication date:  May  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415604178
eBook ISBN: 9781315709970
Adobe ISBN: 9781317487555


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The changed role of party political Catholicism and centrist parties in the so-called First and Second Republics could scarcely be greater: central, even dominant in the former (Tarrow, 1990); marginal, tending to absence, in the latter. This is far from meaning the marginalization of Catholicism’s political influence. This has remained considerable thanks to the Church’s entrenched position in society and conservative and Catholic politicians supporting it or seeking its favour (Pollard, 2011). The difference is in the party system. The Christian Democratic Party (Partito della Democrazia Cristiana, DC) dominated government throughout the First Republic. From 1945 to 1981, every prime minister (president of the council) was a Christian Democrat and, up to 1994, half of all ministers (including the prime ministers, 1987–92) were still Christian Democrats. In the Second Republic, with its fundamentally bipolar party system no longer dominated by a centrist governmental bloc, Christian Democrats were everywhere and nowhere. Mostly they were scattered among other parties.

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