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Les Populaires et le parlement italien (1919-1924)


On 18 January 1919, Luigi Sturzo (Caltagirone 1871- Rome 1959), the Italian priest and politician, a Fascist dissident and fervent Europeanist, founded the Italian Popular Party (PPI) by pronouncing his Appello ai liberi e forti. The new PPI marked the entrance of Catholics to the country’s political life. Indeed, after the Italian unification, Catholics had not been able to vote for the political elections because of a provision issued by Pope Pius IX in 1874, the so-called non expedit, which had forbidden them from participating in the political elections of the Kingdom of Italy. In the elections of 16 November 1919 - after the reform that led to the transition from the uninominal electoral system to the proportional electoral system and the extension of the right to vote to all the 21-year male citizens – the PPI raised 20.5% of the votes, and a hundred of its candidates were elected, proving to be an indispensable force for the institution of any new government. The serious economic difficulties and the social contrasts, caused in large part by the First World War and by an institutional system unable to cope with the crisis, would have subsequently led to the establishment of the fascist regime. The members of the PPI, elected in 1919, were active in implementing institutional reforms that attempted to bring parliamentary representation near the real life of the country: by renewing the apparatus of political representation, that is safeguarding the role of Parliament as the central organ of a democratic system; by transforming the old constitutional model of the cabinet government, with prime ministers appointed by the crown and chosen by parliamentary hybrid majorities, into a new parliamentary government based on the trust of majorities formed by parties with common programs.