1992 Italian general election

Italian Socialist Party Lega Nord Christian Democracy (Italy)
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1992 Italian general election

← 1987 5–6 April 1992 1994 →

All 630 seats in the Chamber of Deputies
315 seats in the Senate
  First party Second party Third party
  Arnaldo Forlani 3 (cropped).jpg Achille Occhetto.jpg Bettino Craxi 2.jpg
Leader Arnaldo Forlani Achille Occhetto Bettino Craxi
Party Christian Democracy Democratic Party of the Left Socialist Party
Leader since 1989 1988 1976
Leader's seat Marche Latium Milan
Seats won 206 C / 107 S 107 C / 66 S 92 C / 49 S
Seat change Decrease46 C / Decrease18 S Decrease51 C / Decrease45 S Decrease2 C / Increase5 S
Popular vote 11,637,569 C
9,088,494 S
6,317,962 C
5,682,888 S
5,343,808 C
4,523,873 S
Percentage 29.7% (C)
27.3% (S)
16.1% (C)
17.0% (S)
13.6% (C)
13.6% (S)
Swing Decrease4.6% C
Decrease5.3% S
Decrease10.5% C
Decrease11.3% S
Decrease0.7% C
Increase2.6% S

1992 Italian general election - Results.svg
Results of the election in the Chamber and Senate.

Prime Minister before election

Giulio Andreotti
Christian Democracy

Prime Minister after

Giuliano Amato
Socialist Party

General elections were held in Italy on 5 and 6 April 1992 to select the Eleventh Republican Parliament.[1] They were the first without the traditionally second most important political force in Italian politics, the Italian Communist Party (PCI), which had been disbanded in 1991. Most of its members split between the more democratic-socialist oriented Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), while a minority who did not want to renounce the communist tradition became the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC). However, between them they gained around 4% less than what the already declining PCI had obtained in the 1987 Italian general election, despite PRC absorbing the disbanded Proletarian Democracy (DP).

The other major feature was the sudden rise of the federalist Northern League, which increased its vote from 0.5% of the preceding elections to more than 8%, increasing from a single member both in the Chamber and the Senate to 55 and 25, respectively. The long wave ("onda lunga") of Bettino Craxi's now centrist-oriented Italian Socialist Party, which in the past elections had been forecast next to overcome PCI, seemed to stop. Christian Democracy and the other traditional government parties, with the exception of the Republicans and the Liberals, also experienced a slight decrease in their vote.

Electoral system

The pure party-list proportional representation had traditionally become the electoral system for the Chamber of Deputies. Italian provinces were united in 32 constituencies, each electing a group of candidates. At constituency level, seats were divided between open lists using the largest remainder method with Imperiali quota. The remaining votes and seats were transferred at national level, where they were divided using the Hare quota, and automatically distributed to best losers into the local lists.

For the Senate, 237 single-seat constituencies were established, even if the assembly had risen to 315 members. The candidates needed a landslide victory of two thirds of votes to be elected, a goal which could be reached only by the German minorities in South Tirol. All remained votes and seats were grouped in party lists and regional constituencies, where a D'Hondt method was used: inside the lists, candidates with the best percentages were elected.

Historical background

In 1991 the Italian Communist Party split into the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), led by Achille Occhetto, and the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), headed by Armando Cossutta. Occhetto, leader of the PCI since 1988, stunned the party faithfully assembled in a working-class section of Bologna with a speech heralding the end of communism, a move now referred to in Italian politics as the svolta della Bolognina (Bolognina turning point). The collapse of the communist governments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe had convinced Occhetto that the era of Eurocommunism was over, and he transformed the PCI into a progressive left-wing party, the PDS. A third of the PCI's former members, led by Cossutta, refused to join the PDS, and instead founded the Communist Refoundation Party.[2]

On 17 February 1992, judge Antonio Di Pietro had Mario Chiesa, a member of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), arrested for accepting a bribe from a Milan cleaning firm. The Italian Socialist Party distanced themselves from Chiesa. Bettino Craxi called Mario Chiesa mariuolo, or "villain", a "wild splinter" of the otherwise clean PSI. Upset over this treatment by his former colleagues, Chiesa began to give information about corruption implicating his colleagues. This marked the beginning of the Mani pulite investigation; news of political corruption began spreading in the press.

Umberto Bossi at the first Northern League rally in Pontida, 1990.

In February 1991, the Northern League, which was first launched as an upgrade of the Northern Alliance in December 1989, was officially transformed into a party through the merger of various regional parties, notably including Lombard League and Venetian League, under the leadership of Umberto Bossi. These continue to exist as "national sections" of the federal party, which presents itself in regional and local contests as "Northern League–Lombard League", "Northern League–Venetian League", "Northern League Piedmont", and so on.[3][4][5]

The League exploited resentment against Rome's centralism (with the famous slogan Roma ladrona, which loosely means "Rome big thief") and the Italian government, common in northern Italy as many northerners felt that the government wasted resources collected mostly from northerners' taxes.[6] Cultural influences from bordering countries in the North and resentment against illegal immigrants were also exploited. The party's electoral successes began roughly at a time when public disillusionment with the established political parties was at its height. The Tangentopoli corruption scandals, which invested most of the established parties, were unveiled from 1992 on.[4][5] However, contrarily to what many pundits observed at the beginning of the 1990s, LN became a stable political force and it is by far the oldest party among those represented in the Italian Parliament.

The Northern League's first electoral breakthrough was at the 1990 regional elections, but it was with the 1992 general election that the party emerged as a leading political actor. Having gained 8.7% of the vote, 56 deputies and 26 senators,[7] it became the fourth largest party of the country and within Parliament.

Parties and leaders

Party Ideology Leader
Christian Democracy (DC) Christian democracy Arnaldo Forlani
Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) Democratic socialism Achille Occhetto
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) Social democracy Bettino Craxi
Northern League (LN) Regionalism Umberto Bossi
Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) Communism Sergio Garavini
Italian Social Movement (MSI) Neo-fascism Gianfranco Fini
Italian Republican Party (PRI) Social liberalism Giorgio La Malfa
Italian Liberal Party (PLI) Conservative liberalism Renato Altissimo
Federation of the Greens (FdV) Green politics Carlo Ripa di Meana
Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI) Social democracy Franco Nicolazzi
The Network (Rete) Anti-corruption Leoluca Orlando
Pannella List (LP) Liberalism Marco Pannella


Seat distribution by constituency for the Chamber of Deputies (left) and Senate (right).

Christian Democracy (DC) suffered a significant swing against it, but the coalition it had led prior to the elections managed to retain a small majority. Opposition parties won a significant amount of support. However, the largest opposition party, the Italian Communist Party, had suffered an internal crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union, with the bulk of the party reforming into the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) and a minority forming the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC). Collectively, they suffered a 4% swing against them, with the PDS losing a third of its seats compared to 1987. As such, the opposition was divided. The biggest winner of the election was the Northern League, which was not inclined to alliances at the time due to its separatist leanings.

The resulting parliament was therefore weak and difficult to bring to an agreement, and lasted only two years before new elections were held in 1994. This was accelerated by the mani pulite scandal, which began shortly before the election and expanded in scope throughout 1992 and 1993. The scandal implicated vast sections of almost every major political party in Italy in extensive corruption. This had catastrophic consequences for the political landscape as the governing parties became extremely unpopular.

The 1992-1994 parliamentary term also saw the first major change to the Italian electoral system since the late 1940s, with a 1993 referendum abolishing the clause of the electoral law which required candidates to win two-thirds of votes to be elected in the Senate's single-member districts. This essentially transformed the Senate electoral law from de facto pure proportional representation to a majoritarian additional member system. Parliament subsequently passed a new electoral law establishing a similar system for the Chamber of Deputies.

Chamber of Deputies

Summary of the 5 April 1992 Chamber of Deputies election results
Italian Chamber of Deputies, 1992.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Christian Democracy (DC) 11,640,265 29.66 206 −28
Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) 6,321,084 16.11 107 −70
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) 5,343,930 13.62 92 −2
Northern League (LN) 3,396,012 8.65 55 +54
Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) 2,204,641 5.62 35 New
Italian Social Movement (MSI) 2,107,037 5.37 34 −1
Italian Republican Party (PRI) 1,722,465 4.39 27 +6
Italian Liberal Party (PLI) 1,121,264 2.86 17 +6
Federation of the Greens (FdV) 1,093,995 2.79 16 +3
Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI) 1,064,647 2.71 16 −1
The Network (LR) 730,171 1.86 12 New
Pannella List (LP) 485,694 1.24 7 −6
Yes Referendum (SR) 319,812 0.81 0 New
Pensioners' Party (PP) 246,379 0.63 0 New
Other Leagues[8] 220,559 0.56 0 New
South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) 198,447 0.51 3 ±0
Hunting, Fishing, Environment (CPA) 192,799 0.49 0 ±0
Federalism–Pensioners Living Men
154,621 0.39 1 New
Venetian Autonomy League (LAV) 152,301 0.39 1 New
Housewives–Pensioners League 133,717 0.34 0 New
Autonomist Lists 94,583 0.24 0 ±0
Southern Action League (LAM) 53,759 0.14 0 New
Autonomous Veneto (VA) 49,035 0.12 0 New
Federalist Greens (VF) 42,647 0.11 0 New
Aosta Valley (VdA) 41,404 0.11 1 ±0
Others 116,007 0.30 0 ±0
Invalid/blank votes 2,232,489
Total 41,479,764 100 630 ±0
Registered voters/turnout 47,486,964 87.35
Source: Ministry of the Interior
Popular vote

Senate of the Republic

Summary of the 5 April 1992 Senate of the Republic election results
Italian Senate, 1992.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Christian Democracy (DC) 9,088,494 27.27 107 −18
Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) 5,682,888 17.05 64 −37
Italian Socialist Party (PSI) 4,523,873 13.57 49 +13
Northern League (LN) 2,732,461 8.20 25 +24
Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) 2,171,950 6.52 20 New
Italian Social Movement (MSI) 2,171,215 6.51 16 ±0
Italian Republican Party (PRI) 1,565,142 4.70 10 +2
Federation of the Greens 1,027,303 3.08 4 +3
Italian Liberal Party (PLI) 939,159 2.82 4 +1
Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI) 853,895 2.56 3 −2
Yes Referendum (SR) 332,318 1.00 0 New
The Network (LR) 239,868 0.72 3 New
Pensioners' Party (PP) 215,889 0.65 0 New
Federalism–Pensioners Living Men
174,713 0.52 1 New
South Tyrolean People's Party (SVP) 168,113 0.50 3 +1
Pannella List (LP) 166,708 0.50 0 −3
For Calabria 143,976 0.43 2 New
Venetian Autonomy League (LAV) 142,446 0.43 1 New
Housewives-Pensioners League 134,327 0.40 0 New
Lombard Alpine League (LAL) 119,153 0.36 1 New
Hunting, Fishing, Environment (CPA) 116,395 0.35 0 ±0
Autonomist Lists 95,687 0.29 0 ±0
Autonomous Veneto (VA) 50,938 0.15 0 New
Southern Action League (LAM) 49,769 0.15 0 New
For Molise 48,352 0.15 1 New
Federalist Greens (VF) 47,051 0.14 0 New
Aosta Valley (VdA) 34,150 0.10 1 ±0
Others 151,170 0.45 0 ±0
Invalid/blank votes 2,409,646
Total 35,651,621 100 315 ±0
Registered voters/turnout 41,022,758 86.9
Source: Ministry of the Interior
Popular vote


  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1048 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ Kertzer, David I. (1998). Politics and Symbols: The Italian Communist Party and the Fall of Communism. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-07724-7.
  3. ^ Ignazi, Pietro (2008). Partiti politici in Italia. Bologna: Il Mulino. p. 88.
  4. ^ a b Ginsborg, Paul (1996). L'Italia del tempo presente. Turin: Einaudi. pp. 336–337, 534–535.
  5. ^ a b Galli, Giorgio (2001). I partiti politici italiani. Milan: BUR. pp. 379–380, 384.
  6. ^ Rumiz, Paolo (2001). La secessione leggera. Dove nasce la rabbia del profondo Nord. Milan: Feltrinelli. pp. 10–13.
  7. ^ Parenzo, David; Romano, Davide (2009). Romanzo padano. Da Bossi a Bossi. Storia della Lega. Milan: Sperling & Kupfer. pp. 263–266.
  8. ^ including Lega Meridionale Unita Nazione with 464 Votes, Lega Meridionale D'Italia with 4,054 Votes, Emilia-Romagna–Lega Padana with 5,836 Votes, Lega Lazio with 5,918 Votes, Lega Marche with 8,036 Votes, League of the Leagues (incl. Lega Meridionale, Lega Meridionale di Pittella, Lega Nazional Popolare, Partito di Dio Partito del Dovere, Movimento Lombardo, Popolare di Milano, Busto Arsizio, Lega Toscana, Lega Laziale) with 27,870 Votes, Lega Lombardia Europea Tibia Libera with 33,589 Votes and Lega Alpina Piemont with 160,612 Votes.