Historical Left

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Historical Left
Sinistra storica
Historical leaders
Founded 1849 (1849)
Dissolved 1896 (1896)
Merged into Liberal Union
Ideology Liberalism[1][2]
Centrism[3]
Democratization[4][5][6]
Reformism[7]
Political position Centre to centre-left[8]

The Left group (Italian: Sinistra), later called Historical Left (Italian: Sinistra storica) by historians to distinguish it from the left-wing groups of the 20th century, was a liberal and reformist parliamentary group in Italy during the second half of the 19th century. The members of the Left were also known as Democrats or Ministerials.

Differently by his Right counterpart, the Left was the result of coalition who represented Northern and Southern middle class, urban bourgeoisie, small businessmen, journalists and academics. It also supported a right to vote and the public school for all children. Moreover, the party was against the high taxation's policies promoted by the Right. Since 1890s, the Left showed conservative tendencies, breaking strikes and protests and promoting a colonialist policy in Africa.

History

Formation and consolidation

The Left originated from parliamentary group inside the Sardinian Parliament as opposition to the right-wing government of the Marquess of Azeglio. It was not a structured party, but simply an opposition divided in two tendencies:

The cooperation between Rattazzi and Cavour grew strong, and the two plotted to oust D'Azeglio from office. In 1851, after the self-coup of President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte in France, the fake rumors about a same decision by the government caused the fall of D'Azeglio in 1852,[11] orchestrated by Cavour and Rattazzi with the final goal of took the power: Cavour became Prime Minister, while Rattazzi became President of the Chamber of Deputies. This unusual coalition between Left and Right was sharply nicknamed "Connubio Rattazzi-Cavour" (literally "marriage") by conservative opposition.[12]

However, in 1855 after the Sardinian intervention in the Crimean War, which Rattazzi opposed, caused the decline of the Left-Right coalition. In 1858, after pressions by now-Emperor Napoleon III over Cavour, Rattazzi was forced to reisgn as Minister of the Interior because reputed too nationalist and intransigent about Italian unification, which Cavour intendent only as a Sardinian-Piedmontese expansion. Despite the exclusion from the government, the Left and Rattazzi, thanks to his frienship with Rosa Vercellana, mistress of the King,[13] rapidly gained Victor Emmanuel II's favour, who adversed Cavour.[14]

During the 1860s, after the Italian unification, the Left was in opposition, but the turmoils of that age were reflected also inside the Left, which was divided in three main factions:[1]

Depretis and Cairoli

In 1873, after the death of Rattazzi, Depretis took over the leadership of the Left. Depretis was briefly Minister of Public Works in 1862, in a government led by Rattazzi with both Left and Right ministers. He justified the agreement with the Right stating:

We cannot allow that majorities must remain unchangeable [...]. Ideas grow up with actions, and like science advance and the world walk, also parties are transforming. Also them undergo the motion law, the happening of transformations.

This statement was the basis of the phenomenon of Trasformismo (literally "transformism"),[19] which constist in a constant changing of political faction motivated by opportunity rather than ideals. In 1876 the Right Prime Minister Marco Minghetti lost parliamentary confidence,[20] thanks to an agreement between Depretis and liberist factions of the Right, opposed to the railways nationalization project. King Victor Emmanuel II verified the impossibility for the Right to gain confidence, nominated Depretis as Prime Minister, who formed a Left-only government. On November 1876, the legislative election confirmed the stability of the Left, that gained the 56% of votes. The Depretis ministry realized a tax reform and tried to align Italy with Germany, against the currently conservative France and Austria-Hungary,[21] but after strong criticism for his decision to abolish the Ministry of Agricolture, Industry and Trade,[22] Depretis resigned and was substituted by his rival Benedetto Cairoli in 1877. Differently by the pragmatic Depretis, Cairoli was a strong opponent of trasformismo, an irridentist and Francophile. Isolated by the European powers at the Congress of Berlin, Cairoli was forced to resign in 1878 after a failed life attempt to king Umberto I,[23] after lesser than 9 months of government. However, despite a short break with a new Depretis cabinet (survived 8 months), Cairoli formed a new executive with Depretis support in 1879. Despite the Left's elctoral success in the election of 1880, the Cairoli ministry was unable to prevent the French conquest of the Beylik of Tunis in 1881, that resulted his political death, becoming unpopular with both Left and Right.[24]

The decline of Cairoli opened the door to Depretis, who was chosen to form a new government. During this long term, from 1881 to 1887, the Left led by Depretis achieved a series of success, like the manhood suffrage toward the low-educated citizens, the adoption of protectionism to favour the development of textile, iron and steel industries,[25] while facing many internal and international troubles. Particularly, the executive faced the difficult relationship with Austria, that showed an anti-Italian attitude,[26] despite the common adhesion to the Triple Alliance with Germany,[27] that ended the Italian international isolation.[28] Another problem was the rupture with the radical-progressive Left, led by Giuseppe Zanardelli and Francesco Crispi, who formed with other dissidents The Pentarchy,[29] allied with the Historical Far Left, forcing the majority to fully embrace the trasformismo, opening the government to the Right. Depretis was also unable to start a colonial empire in Africa,[30] after the defeat in the Battle of Dogali in 1887. Despite the victory in the election of 1886, the Left was tested by decline of traformismo, with many opportunist Right politicians who joined in the Liberal Constitutional Party, causing the necessity of Depretis to find an agreement with Crispi and Zanardelli.[31]

Crispi era and dissolution

In 1887, the longtime Depretis died in office and Zanardelli and Crispi were favoured for the succession. King Umberto I finally chose the radical Crispi, because he was more favourable to an alliance with Germany rather than progressive Zanardelli.[32] Internally, Crispi reformed justice, supporting a law against administrative abuses and introducing the Zanardelli Code (named after the now Justice Minister),[33] expanded the suffrage for the communal voters, obtained more executive powers for the government, also establishing undersecretaries in the several ministries, and[34] created the Helth Superior Council. Despite Crispi was more leftist than Depretis, he was also a strong nationalist, and rapidly became near to German chancellor Otto von Bismarck and the Germanophile king Umberto II.[35] Especially, Crispi wanted reunite all the Italian-speaking territories in one nation, also revealing to the German general Alfred von Waldersee his desire to annex the Austrian Trentino and French Nice.[36] Despite his successes, Crispi lost the parliamentary confidence in 1891 after a failed attempt to reduce state expensens, reducing prefecture, against the interests of many politicians.[37]

During the momentary isolation of Crispi, the former Treasury Minister Giovanni Giolitti took over the Left leadership. By contrast with the statist Crispi, Giolitti was a liberal like Zanardelli,[38] and didn't support colonialism and militarization. After the fall of the conservative government of the Marquess of Rudinì in 1892, Giolitti was designated to form a new government. As Prime Minister, Giolitti tried to introduce a progressive taxation and stop the trasformismo with the establishment of an organized political party.[39] However, the Giolitti ministry did not survive long: after 9 months of stability, in January 1893 the Banca Romana scandal erupted, which involved many politicians of the Left, including Giolitti and Crispi.[40] After months of polemics, Giolitti resigned on December 1893.

After that short parenthesis, Crispi was re-nominated Prime Minister, despite the critics for his involvement in the Banca Romana scandal. One of the first act of the government was the reduction of state expenses together grow income, land, salt and treasury bill taxes, to face the economic crisis. Despite the initial Left tendencies, Crispi got worried about the socialist movement, and after the suppression of the labour movement of the Fasci Siciliani, the executive changed the electoral law, permitting the vote only to the litirate citizens, excluding 800,000 voters.[41] Meantime, Crispi tried to re-obtain popular support prosecuting a colonialist policy in Africa, consolidating the acquisition of Somaliland and Eritrea and starting the First Abyssinian War in 1894. Despite the initial successes, the Italian campaign resulted disastrous, with rovinous defeat at Amba Alagi in 1895 and Adwa in 1896. The last confirmed the end of the Crispi's political rule, who resigned from office.[42] The Crispi's resignation and the impairment of many members of the majority after the Banca Romana scandal, confirmed the end of the Left. The Left's remnants now constituted the Ministerial bloc inside the Parliament, led by Giolitti, who finally realized the fusion between Right and Left in the Liberal Union in 1913.[43]

Electoral results

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1861 unknown (#2) 20.4
62 / 443
Urbano Rattazzi
1865 unknown (#2) 35.2
156 / 443
Increase 94
Urbano Rattazzi
1867 126,202 (#1) 43.0
225 / 493
Increase 69
Urbano Rattazzi
1870 92,499 (#2) 28.8
195 / 493
Decrease 30
Urbano Rattazzi
1874 150,119 (#2) 46.4
232 / 508
Increase 37
Agostino Depretis
1876 243,319 (#1) 70.2
424 / 508
Increase 182
Agostino Depretis
1880 146,096 (#1) 40.7
218 / 508
Decrease 196
Agostino Depretis
1882 unknown (#1) 56.8
289 / 508
Increase 71
Agostino Depretis
1886 unknown (#1) 57.5
292 / 508
Increase 3
Agostino Depretis
1890 unknown (#1) 78.9
401 / 508
Increase 109
Francesco Crispi
1892 unknown (#1) 63.5
323 / 508
Decrease 78
Giovanni Giolitti
1895 713,812 (#1) 58.6
334 / 508
Increase 11
Francesco Crispi
1897 unknown (#1) 64.3
327 / 508
Decrease 7
Giovanni Giolitti
1900 663,418 (#1) 52.3
296 / 508
Decrease 31
Giovanni Giolitti
1904 777,345 (#1) 50.9
339 / 508
Increase 43
Giovanni Giolitti
1909 995,290 (#1) 54.4
329 / 508
Decrease 10
Giovanni Giolitti

Bibliography

  • Cammarano, Fulvio (2011). Laterza, ed. Storia dell'Italia liberale. ISBN 9788842095996. 
  • Giordano, Giancarlo (2008). Aracne, ed. Cilindri e feluche. La politica estera dell'Italia dopo l'Unità. ISBN 9788854817333. 
  • Duggan, Christopher (2000). Laterza, ed. Creare la nazione. Vita di Francesco Crispi. ISBN 9788842062196. 
  • Giolitti, Giovanni (1952). Einaudi, ed. Discorsi extraparlamentari: saggio introduttivo di Nino Valeri. 
  • Gori, Annarita (2014). Franco Angeli, ed. Tra patria e campanile. Ritualità civili e culture politiche a Firenze in età giolittiana. ISBN 9788891707505. 
  • Baranski, Zygmunt G.; West, Rebecca J. (2001). CUP, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture. ISBN 9780521550345. 

References

  1. ^ a b Di Mauro, Luca. "Agostino Depretis e il trasformismo della Sinistra storica". Oilproject. Retrieved 25 February 2018. 
  2. ^ Sarti, Roland (2009). Infobase Publishing, ed. Italy: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present. p. 369. 
  3. ^ La stagione del centrismo
  4. ^ "Sinistra storica italiana". Dizionario di Storia. 2011. 
  5. ^ Mascilli Migliorini, Luigi (1979). Guida, ed. La sinistra storica al potere: sviluppo della democrazia e direzione dello Stato, 1876-1878. 
  6. ^ Mercurio, Grazia; De Iesu, Michela (2010). Edipress, ed. "La Sinistra al potere". Storia e attualità dal 1800 ai nostri giorni. 
  7. ^ "La politica interna della sinistra". Istituto Luigi Sturzo. 
  8. ^ Giovanni Carasotti (24 November 2006). "I governi della Sinistra storica". 
  9. ^ Romeo, Rosario (2004). Laterza, ed. Vita di Cavour. p. 213. 
  10. ^ Monsagrati, Giuseppe (1999). "Giuseppe Garibaldi". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. 52. 
  11. ^ Hearder, Harry (1994). Cavour. Un europeo piemontese. Laterza. p. 74. 
  12. ^ "Discorsi parlamentari del conte Camillo di Cavour, raccolti e pubblicati per ordine della Camera dei Deputati". 4. Chamber of Deputies of Italy. 1865. p. 355. 
  13. ^ Spadolini, Giovanni (1993). Longanesi, ed. Gli uomini che fecero l’Italia. p. 359. 
  14. ^ Vv.Aa (2010). Gangemi, ed. Giuseppe Garibaldi due secoli di interpretazioni. 
  15. ^ Malandrino, Corrado (2016). "Urbano Rattazzi". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. 86. 
  16. ^ Romanelli, Raffaele (1993). "Agostino Depretis". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. 39. 
  17. ^ Di Porto, Bruno (1967). "Agostino Bertani". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. 9. 
  18. ^ Fonzi, Fausto (1984). "Francesco Crispi". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani. 30. 
  19. ^ Cammarano (2011), p. 91.
  20. ^ Banti, Alberto Mario (1997). Donzelli, ed. Storia contemporanea. p. 656. 
  21. ^ Giordano (2008), pp. 190-191.
  22. ^ Cammarano (2011), p. 77.
  23. ^ Pinto, Paolo (2002). Piemme, ed. Il Savoia che non voleva essere re. p. 108. 
  24. ^ Cammarano (2011), pp. 215-216.
  25. ^ Cammarano (2011), p. 101.
  26. ^ Giordano (2008), pp. 260-261.
  27. ^ Rogger, Hans (1965). UC Press, ed. The European Right: an Historical Profile. p. 214. 
  28. ^ Cammarano (2011), pp. 88-89.
  29. ^ Cammarano (2011), p. 94.
  30. ^ Giordano (2008), p. 270.
  31. ^ Cammarano (2011), p. 98.
  32. ^ Duggan (2000), pp. 593-595.
  33. ^ Duggan (2000), p. 615.
  34. ^ Duggan (2000), pp. 612-616.
  35. ^ Duggan (2000), pp. 606-607.
  36. ^ Duggan (2000), pp. 673-674.
  37. ^ Duggan (2000), pp. 727-730.
  38. ^ Baranski & West (2001), p. 44.
  39. ^ Giolitti (1952), p. 101.
  40. ^ "Italy Has Her Scandal; Ex-Premier Crispi Said To Be Involved" (PDF). The New York Times. 27 January 1893. 
  41. ^ Duggan (2000), pp. 789-792.
  42. ^ Duggan (2000), pp. 852-854.
  43. ^ Gori (2014), pp. 105-107.
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