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Democratic Party of the Left

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Democratic Party of the Left

Democratic Party of the Left
Partito Democratico della Sinistra
Secretary Achille Occhetto (1991–94)
Massimo D'Alema (1994–98)
Founded 3 February 1991
Dissolved 13 February 1998
Preceded by Italian Communist Party
Succeeded by Democrats of the Left
Newspaper L'Unità
Membership max: 989,708 (1991)
min: 613,412 (1998)[1]
Ideology Post-communism
Democratic socialism
Social democracy
Political position Left-wing to Centre-left
National affiliation Alliance of Progressives (1994)
The Olive Tree (1995–98)
International affiliation Socialist International (1993–98)
European affiliation Party of European Socialists (1993–98)
European Parliament group European United Left(1991–93)
Party of European Socialists (1993–98)
Politics of Italy
Political parties

The Democratic Party of the Left (Italian: Partito Democratico della Sinistra, PDS) was a Post–communist, democratic socialist and social-democratic[2][3][4][5][6][7] political party in Italy.


The PDS evolved from the Italian Communist Party (PCI), the most powerful Communist party in the western bloc for most of the Cold War. Since 1946, it had been the second-largest party in Parliament. It had been moving away from orthodox Communism since the late 1960s, when it opposed the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. It had been one of the first parties to embrace Eurocommunism. By the late 1980s, most of the PCI's contacts were with social democratic and democratic socialist parties, and it was increasingly apparent that it was no longer a Marxist-Leninist party.

With this in mind, in 1991 the PCI dissolved itself and refounded itself as the PDS[8] Its first leader was Achille Occhetto, the final secretary of the PCI.

Although Ochetto had proclaimed the end of Communism, he tried to trade on the PDS' roots. The new party's logo consisted of an oak tree that retained, in a roundel at the tree's roots, the previous symbol of the PCI. This did not prevent hardliners leaving the party and launching the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC). Thus the logo was also adopted in order to prevent the PRC from making usage of the symbol immediately after the split between the two parties. In 1993 the party was admitted into the Socialist International and Party of European Socialists[9] and in the same year the party's MEPs moved from the European United Left (GUE) to the Socialist Group.[10]

In the Giorgio Napolitano, became Minister of the Interior.

In 1997 D'Alema called for the party to become more of a European social-democratic party, and in 1998 merged with Labour Federation, Social Christians, Republican Left, Unitarian Communists, Reformists for Europe and Democratic Federation to form Democrats of the Left. On this occasion, the party decided to replace the hammer and sickle of its emblem with the red rose of European social democracy.

Electoral results

Italian Parliament

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1992 6,321,084 (#2) 16.1
107 / 630
Achille Occhetto
1994 7,881,646 (#2) 20.4
109 / 630
Increase 2
Achille Occhetto
1996 7.894.118 (#1) 21.1
172 / 630
Increase 63
Massimo D'Alema
Senate of the Republic
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1992 5,663,976 (#2) 17.0
64 / 315
Achille Occhetto
1994 with Progressives (#1) 33.4
76 / 315
Increase 12
Achille Occhetto
1996 with Ulivo (#1) 41.2
102 / 315
Increase 26
Massimo D'Alema

European Parliament

European Parliament
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1994 6,281,354 (#2) 19.1
16 / 87
Massimo D'Alema


Further reading

  • Bull, Martin J. (1996). The Great Failure? The Democratic Party of the Left in Italy's Transition. The New Italian Republic: From the Fall of the Berlin Wall to Berlusconi (Routledge). pp. 159–172. 


  1. ^
  2. ^ Carol Diane St Louis (2011). Negotiating Change: Approaches to and the Distributional Implications of Social Welfare and Economic Reform. Stanford University. p. 119. STANFORD:RW793BX2256. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Donald F. Busky (2002). Communism in History and Theory: The European Experience. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 57.  
  4. ^ Marco Giugni (2004). Social Protest and Policy Change: Ecology, Antinuclear, and Peace Movements in Comparative Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 171.  
  5. ^ Richard J. Samuels (19 May 2005). Machiavelli's Children: Leaders And Their Legacies In Italy And Japan. Cornell University Press. p. 309.  
  6. ^ Svante Ersson; Jan-Erik Lane (28 December 1998). Politics and Society in Western Europe. SAGE. p. 100.  
  7. ^ Simon Parker (22 January 1996). The New Italian Republic: New. Taylor & Francis. p. 42.  
  8. ^ Alan Renwick (4 February 2010). The Politics of Electoral Reform: Changing the Rules of Democracy. Cambridge University Press. p. 121–.  
  9. ^ Dimitri Almeida (23 April 2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. Routledge. p. 80.  
  10. ^ William Heller; Carol Mershon (23 June 2009). Political Parties and Legislative Party Switching. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 153.  
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