Four Funerals and a Party? The Political Repertoire of the Italian Radicals
Title: Four Funerals and a Party? The Political Repertoire of the Italian Radicals
Series/Report no.: EUI RSCAS; 2011/57; EUDO - European Union Democracy Observatory
The transformations brought about by changing patterns of representation, the role of the media in politics, and processes of Europeanization and globalization have challenged the political parties of the West-European Left - and Italy is no exception to this trend. At the policy level, the four transformations have constrained the classic repertoire of the left. At the level of identities, they have pushed some parties to re-invent their core beliefs and re-shuffle their electoral strongholds, whilst other less successful parties have practically withered away. By contrast, right-wing and neo-populist parties have benefited from these four historical trends. These changes are somewhat congenial to them. For Left-wing parties, however, these changing patterns have led to ‘funerals’ of traditional practices and repertoires. In this article we look at the political repertoire of the Radical Party - established as Partito Radicale in 1955 in Italy and known today as Non-violent, Transparty, Transnational Radical Party. The Radicals have been able to theorize and approach the four challenges quite pro-actively, possibly because most of these transformations were already in their genetic code. The party, grounded in political liberalism, has produced a repertoire embracing global Gandhian transnational action on human rights, anti-militarism, sustainability and the fight against prohibitionist policies; a libertarian approach to scientific ‘disorganization’ of the classic party apparatus; and a notion of federalism grounded in the critique of the state as institution detrimental to liberties and welfare. We illustrate this original political repertoire and appraise its achievements. We finally critically discuss the repertoire in the broader context of Italian and European politics. Keywords Political parties, non-violence, liberalism, Italian Radical Party, Europeanization
An earlier version of the paper was delivered to the seminar series Engaging with Radical Ideas at the University of Exeter, 24 March 2011 (http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/radicalideas/).
Type of Access: openAccess