The Democrats (Italy)

The Democrats
I Democratici
President Romano Prodi (1999)
Arturo Parisi (1999–2002)
Founded 27 February 1999
Dissolved 23 March 2002
Merger of Democratic Union, Italy of Values, The Network
Merged into Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy[1]
Headquarters Rome, Italy
Ideology Centrism
Social liberalism
Christian left
Social democracy (minority)
National affiliation The Olive Tree
European affiliation European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
International affiliation None
European Parliament group European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
Colours      Light blue

The Democrats (Italian: I Democratici) was a centrist[2] political party in Italy. Founded in 1998 by Romano Prodi, one of the party's main goals was the establishment of a two-party system. The name and symbol of the party were a direct reference to the Democratic Party of the United States.[3]


Early groups of Ulivists were formed in 1995–1996, during the campaign for the 1996 general election, by close supporters of Romano Prodi who, as Prodi himself, were not members of any party of The Olive Tree. Ulivists organised "Clubs for Prodi" and the "Citizens for The Olive Tree" association. Although most Ulivists took part to the campaign only as activists and remained grassroots supporters during the Prodi I Cabinet, some were elected with the Italian People's PartyDemocratic Union.

When Romano Prodi was ousted from his post of Prime Minister of Italy, he launched a new party with grassroots activists, disgruntled Populars, Democratic Union of Antonio Maccanico, The Network of Leoluca Orlando, Italy of Values of Antonio Di Pietro (who left the party in 2000 and re-established an independent Italy of Values) and the so-called Movement of Mayors of Francesco Rutelli and Massimo Cacciari.

Prodi led the party to a good result in the 1999 European Parliament election (7.7%). Some months later Prodi was nominated President of the European Commission and Arturo Parisi succeeded him as party leader. In early 2000 Parisi asked the Democrats of the Left to dissolve into a new "Democratic Party".

In October 2000 The Democrats agreed with the Italian People's Party, Italian Renewal and the Union of Democrats for Europe to form a joint list for the 2001 general election. The list, which gained a considerable success (14.5%), was transformed into a party in March 2002 under the name of Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy.

The core of The Democrats, through the Ulivists association, were an often dissenting member of that party and are now a minority faction within the Democratic Party.


The ideology of the party ranged from the "social Catholicism" of Prodi and Parisi, to the social liberalism of Maccanico and Rutelli, to social democracy and populism. At the European level, The Democrats were affiliated to the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party.

The party was aimed at the formation of a "Democratic Party", in line with the tradition of The Olive Tree, a big tent party comprising all of the Italian centre-left political forces. The Democratic Party was eventually formed in October 2007.[3]

Electoral results

European Parliament

European Parliament
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1999 2,402,435 (#5) 7.7
6 / 87
Romano Prodi



  1. Bernard Grofman; Daniela Giannetti (1 February 2011). Daniela Giannetti; Bernard Grofman, eds. A Natural Experiment on Electoral Law Reform: Evaluating the Long Run Consequences of 1990s Electoral Reform in Italy and Japan. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 85. ISBN 978-1-4419-7228-6.
  2. Daniela Giannetti; Rosa Mulé (2007). "The Democratici di Sinistra: In Search of a New Identity". In Anna Bosco. Party Change in Southern Europe. Routledge. p. 125. ISBN 978-1-136-76777-7.
  3. 1 2 Edoardo Ongaro (2009). Public Management Reform and Modernization: Trajectories of Administrative Change in Italy, France, Greece, Portugal and Spain. Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-84980-228-4.

Official website

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