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Democrats of the Left
Democratici di Sinistra
Former Secretaries "Massimo D'Alema
"Walter Veltroni
"Piero Fassino
President "Massimo D'Alema (1998–2007)
Founded 14 February 1998
Dissolved 14 October 2007
Preceded by "Democratic Party of the Left
Merged into "Democratic Party
Headquarters Via Palermo 12, "Rome
"Youth wing Young Left
Membership (2007) 615,414[1]
"Ideology "Social democracy
"Democratic socialism
"Political position "Centre-left[2]
National affiliation "The Olive Tree (1998–2007)
"The Union (2005–2007)
"European affiliation "Party of European Socialists
International affiliation "Socialist International
"European Parliament group "Party of European Socialists
Colors      "Red

The Democrats of the Left ("Italian: Democratici di Sinistra, DS) was a "social-democratic[3][4][5] "political party in Italy.

The DS, successor of the "Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) and the "Italian Communist Party, was formed in 1998 upon the merger of the PDS with several minor parties. A member of "The Olive Tree coalition, in October 2007 the DS merged with "Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy and a number of minor centre-left parties to form the "Democratic Party.[6]

The DS was successively led by "Massimo D'Alema, "Walter Veltroni and "Piero Fassino.



At its 20th congress in 1991, the "Italian Communist Party was transformed into the "Democratic Party of the Left, responding to the "Revolutions of 1989 in eastern Europe by re-orienting the party towards the European democratic-socialist tradition.[7] Under the leadership of "Massimo D'Alema, the PDS merged with some minor centre-left movements ("Labour Federation, "Social Christians, "Republican Left, "Unitarian Communists, "Reformists for Europe and "Democratic Federation) on 13 February 1998.[8][9] The DS' symbol lacked the "hammer and sickle, which was present in the PDS' one and was instead replaced by the red "rose of European social democracy as used by the "Party of European Socialists (PES).

"Massimo D'Alema became "Prime Minister of Italy in October 1998, the first former Communist to hold the post. D'Alema was replaced as the leader of DS by "Walter Veltroni. During the party's first national congress in January 2000, Veltroni received the support of the 79.9% of delegates, while the left-wing of the party, at the time led by three women ("Anna Finocchiaro, Fulvia Bandoli and "Pasqualina Napoletano), had the support of 20.1% of delegates.

Leadership of Piero Fassino[edit]

During the party's second national congress in November 2001, "Piero Fassino, a mainstream social democrat, was elected secretary with 61.8% of party members' votes. In the event, "Giovanni Berlinguer, endorsed by left-wingers, democratic socialists and the "Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) trade union, gained 34.1%, while Enrico Morando, from the liberal right-wing, got 4.1%. Contextually, D'Alema was elected president.

During the third national congress in February 2005, Fassino was re-elected with 79.0% of the vote. No-one stood against Fassino, but left-wing candidates ran for congressional delegates: the DS Left-wing – Returning to win motion/list won 14.6% of the vote, DS Left-wing for Socialism 4.0% and the Ecologist Left 2.4%.

2006 general election[edit]

Placard, "2006 general election.

In the "2006 general election, the DS endorsed "Romano Prodi for "Prime Minister and were part of the "Olive Tree electoral list, along with "Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy (DL) and the "European Republicans Movement (MRE), for the "Chamber of Deputies, while fielding its own list for the "Senate. The DS–DL–MRE joint list obtained 31.2% of the vote and 220 deputies, while the DS list 17.2% and 62 senators. The party's dismal result and the razor-thin win of "The Union coalition over the centre-right "House of Freedoms coalition prompted a discussion on the party's future. By the end of 2006 the party leadership was committed to a merger with DL.

Nine Ministers of the "Prodi II Cabinet were affiliated to the DS, notably including D'Alema who served as "Deputy Prime Minister and "Minister of Foreign Affairs. "Giorgio Napolitano, another DS member, was elected "President of Italy in May 2006.

Fourth national congress and split[edit]

The party's fourth national congress was held in 19–21 April 2007: During local congresses, Fassino and his motion named For the Democratic Party, backed by most leading members (D'Alema, "Pier Luigi Bersani, "Antonio Bassolino, etc.), received the support of 75.6% by party members.[10] The left-wing of "Fabio Mussi, "Cesare Salvi, Fulvia Bandoli and "Valdo Spini (To the Left. For European Socialism) scored 15.0%; this motion was instead opposed to the merger of the DS with DL.[10] A third motion (For a New, Democratic and Socialist Party), signed by "Gavino Angius, "Mauro Zani and originally Giuseppe Caldarola, took 9.3% of the vote: its members (gathered in the new "Socialists and Europeans faction) supported the creation of a new party only within the PES, which was opposed by DL.[10]

As a result, the DS approved the formation of a "Democratic Party", along with DL and minor parties. Most supporters of the two motions which had opposed the merger left the DS right after the congress and launched the "Democratic Left on 5 May 2007, which aimed to unite the heterogeneous Italian left-wing.[10]

The "Democratic Party (PD) was formed in October 2007 and its first secretary was "Walter Veltroni, a former DS leader who was elected leader of the new party through a "leadership election, which saw the participation of over 3,.5 million Italian voters in which Veltroni won 75.8% of the vote.


Inside the DS, there was often a somewhat simplistic distinction between reformists (riformisti) and radicals (radicali), indicating respectively the party's mainstream and its left-wing. The party also included several organised factions.

The "social-democratic majority was loosely organised, while including several organised movements: the "Labourites – Liberal Socialists, "Reformist Europe and the "Sicilian "Reformist Movement", all three splinter groups of the "Italian Socialist Party; the "Social Christians, which had emerged from the left-wing of "Christian Democracy; the "Republican Left, from the left-wing of the "Italian Republican Party; and the "Liberal Left, from the left-wing of the "Italian Liberal Party. A dissident group left the Labourites in order to launch "Socialists and Europeans as a vehicle to oppose the party's merger with DL.

On the party's right, the "Liberal DS had a moderate "Third Way or "radical-centrist political agenda and joined the party's majority in latter years.

Before the party's last congress in 2007, the left-wing opposition was led by the DS Left-wing – Returning to win, a democratic-socialist grouping, with other smaller groups including DS Left – wing for Socialism and the Ecologist Left.

Before that, some DS leading members, including "Pietro Ingrao, "Achille Occhetto and Pietro Folena, had left the party in order to join the "Communist Refoundation Party which, at its sixth congress, held in January 2005, moved toward a more heterogeneous, non-sectarian and strongly pacifist variety of leftism.

Popular support[edit]

The electoral results of the Democrats of the Left ("Democratic Party of the Left until 1998) in the 10 most populated "regions of Italy are shown in the table below. The result for the 2006 general election refers to the election for the Senate (the DS contested the election for the Chamber of Deputies in a joint list with "DL).

1994 general 1995 regional 1996 general 1999 European 2000 regional 2001 general 2004 European 2005 regional 2006 general
Piedmont 16.7 21.7 16.9 13.7 17.7 15.9 with Ulivo 20.1 16.9
Lombardy 13.0 16.5 15.1 12.9 with "Ulivo 11.7 with Ulivo with Ulivo 12.4
Veneto 12.2 16.5 11.8 11.1 12.3 10.7 with Ulivo with Ulivo 11.5
Emilia-Romagna 36.6 43.0 35.7 32.8 36.2 28.8 with Ulivo with Ulivo 30.6
Tuscany 33.7 40.9 34.8 31.9 36.4 30.9 with Ulivo with Ulivo 29.8
Lazio 23.3 27.2 23.5 18.4 20.0 17.3 with Ulivo with Ulivo 19.2
Campania 19.7 19.5 20.0 13.8 14.2 14.3 with Ulivo 15.3 14.1
Apulia 19.9 22.1 22.1 14.1 15.7 12.9 with Ulivo 16.6 15.6
Calabria 22.2 22.2 21.0 16.4 14.3 17.9 with Ulivo 15.4 14.4
Sicily 16.5 14.1 (1996) 16.6 12.0 10.1 (2001) 10.3 with Ulivo 14.0 (2006) 11.4
ITALY 20.4 - 21.1 17.3 - 16.6 - - 17.2

Electoral results[edit]

Italian Parliament[edit]

"Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
"2001 6,151,154 (#2) 16.6
137 / 630
"Walter Veltroni
"2006 with "Ulivo (#1)
123 / 630
Decrease 14
"Piero Fassino
"Senate of the Republic
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
"2001 with "Ulivo (#2)
64 / 315
"Walter Veltroni
"2006 5,977,347 (#2) 17.5
62 / 315
Decrease 2
"Piero Fassino

European Parliament[edit]

"European Parliament
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
"1999 5,387,729 (#2) 17.3
15 / 87
"Walter Veltroni
"2004 with "Ulivo (#1)
12 / 78
Decrease 3
"Piero Fassino




  1. ^ Ds: Tutti i numeri del quarto congresso, ""Corriere della Sera", 19 April 2007.
  2. ^ Pietro Castelli Gattinara (2016). "Appendix 2". The Politics of Migration in Italy: Perspectives on Local Debates and Party Competition. Routledge. p. 192. "ISBN "978-1-317-24174-4. 
  3. ^ André Krouwel (2012). Party Transformations in European Democracies. SUNY Press. p. 333. "ISBN "978-1-4384-4483-3. Retrieved 14 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Marcus E. Ethridge; Howard Handelman (2009). Politics in a Changing World: A Comparative Introduction to Political Science. Cengage Learning. p. 157. "ISBN "978-0-495-57048-6. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Donald F. Busky (2002). Communism in History and Theory: The European Experience. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 57. "ISBN "978-0-275-97734-4. Retrieved 24 August 2012. 
  6. ^ Donatella M. Viola (2015). "Italy". Routledge Handbook of European Elections. Routledge. p. 116. "ISBN "978-1-317-50363-7. 
  7. ^ Daniela Giannetti; Rosa Mulé (2013). "The Democratici di Sinistra: In Search of a New Identity". In Anna Bosco; Leonardo Morlino. Party Change in Southern Europe. Routledge. p. 123. "ISBN "978-1-136-76777-7. 
  8. ^ Donatella M. Viola (2015). "Italy". Routledge Handbook of European Elections. Routledge. p. 126. "ISBN "978-1-317-50363-7. 
  9. ^ Daniela Giannetti; Michael Laver (2008). "Party cohesion, party discipline, and party factions in Europe". In Daniela Giannetti; Kenneth Benoit. Intra-Party Politics and Coalition Governments. Routledge. p. 152. "ISBN "978-1-134-04288-3. 
  10. ^ a b c d Daniela Giannetti; Michael Laver (2008). "Party cohesion, party discipline, and party factions in Italy". In Daniela Giannetti; Kenneth Benoit. Intra-Party Politics and Coalition Governments. Routledge. p. 154. "ISBN "978-1-134-04288-3. 

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