2019 Democratic Party (Italy) leadership election

The 2019 Democratic Party leadership election was an open primary election held on 3 March 2019.[1][2] The election was triggered by the resignation of Matteo Renzi on 12 March 2018, following the party's defeat at the 2018 general election. Vice Secretary Maurizio Martina was appointed Secretary in July 2018 by the National Assembly, but he resigned after few months to officially start the party's congress.[3][4]

2019 Democratic Party leadership election

← 2017 3 March 2019
  Nicola Zingaretti 2012 crop.jpg Maurizio Martina daticamera 2018 (cropped).jpg Roberto Giachetti 2018.jpg
Nominee Nicola Zingaretti Maurizio Martina Roberto Giachetti
Delegate count 653 228 119
Popular vote 1,035,955 345,318 188,355
Percentage 66.0% 22.0% 12.0%

Democratic Party (Italy) leadership election, 2019.png
Primary election results map. Red denotes provinces with a Zingaretti plurality and Green denotes those with a Martina plurality.

Secretary before election

Maurizio Martina

Elected Secretary

Nicola Zingaretti

Six candidates were successfully nominated to stand in the Club's Conventions, held in January: Nicola Zingaretti, Maurizio Martina, Roberto Giachetti, Francesco Boccia, Dario Corallo and Maria Saladino.[5] The first three candidates advanced to the open primary election scheduled in March,[6] where Zingaretti won by a landslide getting more than 66% of votes.[7]

Electoral processEdit

The process consists of two phases: the first one in which only the members of the Democratic Party have the right to vote, thus determining the candidates who will enter the second round, where the center-left sympathizers are able to vote too. The Democratic Party is currently the only party in Italy that allows the non-members to elect the Secretary by open primary.[8]

The term of office of the Secretary is usually four years, along with the National Assembly, but when the former resign in advance, the National Assembly can choose between electing another Secretary (until the natural expiration of the mandate is reached) or the early dissolution of the National Assembly itself and the convocation of a new leadership election.[9]

With the official resignation presented by Secretary Maurizio Martina on 30 October,[10] the President must gather the members of the National Assembly within a month, which was held on 17 November on Rome after the convocation of the President, Matteo Orfini, officially starting the primaries.[11] On the same day, the National Assembly elects the members of the “National Committee for the Congress” (which will act in place of the elected bodies until the end of the leadership election), that the National Assembly has to follow, through the approval of the “Rules of the Primaries” where are stated the rules, the dates and the procedure that the party must perform for the process of the leadership election. The National Committee also handle the internal disputes and appeals during the primary election.[12]

After the assignment of the National Committee, their members elect a President to coordinate the activities, and they write the rules and the dates and propose them to the National Board.[13] The election must take place within four months following the presentation of the resignation of the Secretary.[9] On 28 November, the National Board unanimously approved the proposals made by the National Committee, setting the date of the leadership election on 3 March.[14]

Requirements for candidacyEdit

As stated in the Rules of the Primaries, to officially take part in the competition, applying candidates are required to gather signatures, by 6:00 PM on 12 December 2018, from either:

  • 10% of the members of the outgoing National Assembly;
  • 1,500 to 2,000 registered members of the Democratic Party located in no less than five regions belonging to at least three of the five Italian constituencies for the European Parliament.

Along with the signatures, candidates must provide their manifesto. In a few days, the National Committee will announce the official list of the candidates and will carry out a draw to generate the official order of presentation of the candidates in the ballots.[12]

Admitted candidates
Candidate Status
Francesco Boccia
Dario Corallo
Roberto Giachetti
Maurizio Martina
Maria Saladino
Nicola Zingaretti

Closed primaryEdit

To be able to vote in this stage is required to be a member of the Democratic Party. The registration on the local branch closed on 28 November but it is still possible, if the member enrolled in for the previous year, to renew their membership of the party until the day their Circle Convention takes place. Along with the enrollment in the local branches, the National Committee approved the online enrollment, available only between 3 and 21 December for those who weren't members of the Democratic Party in the previous year. To prevent any electoral fraud, it is admitted to enroll only two people per credit card.[15][16]

Once the candidates are validated by the National Committee, the local branches, in a day choose individually by every branch between 7 and 23 January 2019, gather their registered members in the Circle Conventions to talk about the candidates, their manifesto and to introduce the delegates who will take part at the Provincial Conventions. The number of the delegates elected per branch is fixed by the Provincial Committee, on the basis of the average membership of the branch between 2016 and 2017. Along with the national candidate, the members will vote for the delegates linked to every candidate.[12]

The elected provincial delegates will take part in the Provincial Conventions in a date set between 29 or 30 January, to elect the delegates for the National Convention, each linked to a national candidate. Just like the Circle Conventions, the number of the delegates elected for every province are fixed by the National Committee, half on the basis of the result of the party in the latest election and half on the average membership of the province between 2016 and 2017. The National Convention will take place on 2 February; it's composed of 1,000 delegates, and it will announce the results of the votes that will be held in the Circle Conventions and will list the candidates admitted to the open primary and the National Assembly, according to one of these conditions:[12]

  • the three most voted candidates above 5% of votes;
  • a candidate who gets at least 15% of votes in five different regions.[9]

Open primaryEdit

Those interested in voting on 3 March for the election of the Secretary may present themselves at the polling station set up in a branch of the Democratic Party, where they can vote for the candidates, voting for one of the regional lists of delegates (who are elected proportionally to the votes obtained) for the National Assembly linked to the candidates. To take part in the election, voters have to:[12]

  • show an ID card;
  • show a voter ID card (not requested to those who must enroll themselves online);
  • make a donation of €2 minimum (the members of the party are exempted, showing instead their membership card);
  • sign up a statement pledging to support the party and sign up the register members of the voters (not requested to the members of the party);
  • preregister themselves online (mandatory for students and workers residing out of town, off-site citizens, minors between 16 and 18 years old, EU citizens, foreign nationals with a permit to stay in Italy).

The renewed National Assembly meet up on 17 March to declare the elected Secretary, if he obtained the absolute majority of the delegates, otherwise, the delegates of the National Assembly will hold a run-off with a vote by secret ballot between the two most-voted candidates and determine the winner.[12][17]


Timetable of events for the 2019 Democratic Party leadership election[12]
Date(s) Event
17 November
The National Assembly elects the National Committee for the Congress. Start of the primaries.
28 November
The National Board approve the rules of the Primaries.
28 November
Enrollment on the local branch for new members closed.
3–21 December
Online enrollment for new members.
12 December
Presentation of the candidacies supported by at least 1,500 signatures.
7–23 January
Closed primaries take place in Circle Conventions.
29–30 January
Provincial Conventions take place.
3 February
National Convention take place in Rome. Results of the first round are announced.
3 March
Open primaries to elect the Secretary and the National Assembly.
17 March
The National Assembly announces the winner. If no one gets the majority of the delegates, a run-off is required.


In the 2018 general election the Democratic Party, led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, obtained its worst result ever: 18.7% of the vote, well behind the Five Star Movement (32.7%) and narrowly ahead of the League (17.4%). Following his party's defeat, Renzi resigned from secretary and his deputy Maurizio Martina started functioning as acting secretary.[18]

After two months of negotiations and the refusal of the PD refused to join forces with the M5S,[19] the latter and the League formed a yellow-green government, under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, a M5S-proposed independent. The PD thus returned to opposition after virtually seven years and experienced some internal turmoil as its internal factions started to re-position themselves in the new context. Both Paolo Gentiloni and Dario Franceschini distanced from Renzi,[20] while Carlo Calenda, a former minister in Renzi's and Gentiloni's governments who had joined the party soon after the election,[21] proposed to merge the PD into a larger "republican front".[22][23] However, according to several observers, Renzi's grip over the party was still strong and he was still the PD's leader behind the scenes.[24][25] In July 2018 Martina was elected secretary by the party's national assembly and a new leadership election was scheduled for the first semester of 2019.[26]


Nicola Zingaretti during the electoral campaign in October 2018.

On 7 July 2018, the President of Lazio region, Nicola Zingaretti, announced his intention to run as party's secretary.[27][28] Zingaretti was a former member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), who served as leader of the Left Youth, the youth-wing of the PDS.[29] He is considered a social democrat and one of the most prominent members of the PD's left-wing;[30] for his leftist ideas, some journalists and political analysts compared him to Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn.[31][32] Zingaretti's campaign was based on a social democratic platform, whose aim was to abandon the social liberal and centrist policies promoted by Matteo Renzi and to move the Democratic Party more on the left.[33] The campaign's main themes were social justice and fight to economic inequality;[34][35] Zingaretti was supported, among others, by former Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who described him as a "brave candidate who will open a new season for the centre-left"[36] and Dario Franceschini, the former Minister of Culture and leader of AreaDem, one of the main faction of the party.[37]

On 4 October, Senator Matteo Richetti, who between 2017 and 2018 served as Spokesman of the PD, announced his bid for party's leadership.[38][39] He was a former member of The Daisy (DL) and a close advisor of Matteo Renzi, however he later assumed a more critical view on his premiership.[40] Richetti is considered a centrist and social liberal politician; he is also the leader of Harambee, a PD faction founded in April 2018 with roots in the Christian left.[41]

On 6 October, Cesare Damiano, former Minister of Labour in the second government of Romano Prodi, announced his candidacy as party's secretary.[42][43] Damiano is a democratic socialist and former trade unionist. He has often been strongly against the policies promoted by the previous party's leadership and he wants to bring back the party on the left-wing.[44][45] However, on the same day of the announcement, he added that he could withdraw his candidacy, following an agreement with Zingaretti.[46]

On 8 October, Francesco Boccia, an economist and member of the Chamber of Deputies since 2008, presented his candidacy as new party's secretary.[47] Boccia has been a long-time opponent of Renzi and Gentiloni and a close advisor of Michele Emiliano, current governor of Apulia region and former candidate in the 2017 leadership election.[48] Boccia has always supported an alliance between the PD and the Five Star Movement, which was opposed by all the other candidates.[49]

On 18 November 2018, Marco Minniti, the former Italian Minister of the Interior from 2016 to 2018, announced his candidacy as PD's leader.[50][51] Minniti was a former member of the Italian Communist Party, however while in office, he promoted restricted policies on immigration and social security,[52] for which he has been often criticized by left-wing intellectuals and writers, like Roberto Saviano.[53] Minniti was supported by Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister and party's leader, who led a liberal and centrist faction within the PD.[54] He was also supported by former Minister of Economic Development, Carlo Calenda, who was considered by many a strong potential candidate for the leadership election, and the former Minister of Economy and Finance, Pier Carlo Padoan.

On 22 November, incumbent Secretary Maurizio Martina presented his candidacy as party's leader.[55] Martina is a social democrat, member of the PD's left-wing, who was elected Secretary after the resignation of Matteo Renzi in March 2018. He also served as Italian Minister of Agriculture in Renzi and Gentiloni's governments.[56] He was supported, among others, by Graziano Delrio, one of party's main bigwigs and former Minister of Infrastructures and Transports, who was very close to Renzi until 2017, but from whom he later distanced himself.[57] One of Martina's main proposals is the introduction of a wealth tax for the so-called "super-rich" people.[58]

On the next day of the Democratic National Committee meeting on 23 November, member of the Chamber of Deputies Lia Quartapelle launched a petition to move up the date of the primary election to January instead of 3 March. The proposal met the support of the former Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Marianna Madia, Carlo Calenda Debora Serracchiani, Pierfrancesco Majorino and the Mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori.[14] Even the candidates Maurizio Martina and Matteo Richetti welcomed the proposal, while Francesco Boccia strongly rejected the idea.[59][60]

The race was characterized by many withdrawals. On 27 November, Senator Matteo Richetti announced his withdrawal from the race, endorsing Maurizio Martina.[61][62] The day before his withdrawal, Graziano Delrio, former Minister of Infrastructures and Transports, appealed Richetti on Facebook to endorse Martina's candidacy.[60] Richetti was selected by Martina as his deputy secretary candidate.[63] While, on 5 December, 17 days after having announced his candidacy, Marco Minniti withdrew from the race, saying to do so in order to facilitate the path of the party primaries and with the sole intent to encourage the election of an authoritative secretary;[64] in January 2019, Minniti endorsed Zingaretti. On 11 December, Cesare Damiano withdrew from the race, endorsing Zingaretti, stating that his choice was motivated by a sense of unity and responsibility towards the party.[65]

On the same day Roberto Giachetti and Anna Ascani, with a live footage, announced their joint candidacy asking to their viewers to send them 1,500 signatures by the next day.[66] Giachetti is a former Radical, member of the Chamber of Deputies since 2001 and former centre-left candidate for mayor of Rome in 2016 election, while Ascani is a 31 years old member of the Chamber of Deputies for Umbria. They are both strong supporter of Matteo Renzi, that, after Minniti's retirement, refused to endorse another candidate and decided to run themselves, aiming to represent all the renziani area.[67][68]

After the National Convention on 3 February, which saw Zingaretti, Martina and Giachetti advanced to the open primary election, Boccia endorsed Zingaretti, while Saladino endorsed Martina.[69]


There was one leadership election debate held on television.

2019 Democratic Party leadership debates
Programme Date Moderator Channel Participants
 P  Participant.   N  Non-invitee.    A  Absent invitee.    Zingaretti Martina Giachetti
Il Confronto
28 February 2019; 13:00
Fabio Vitale
Sky TG24


Major candidatesEdit

Portrait Name Most recent position Campaign logo Slogan Announced Refs
  Nicola Zingaretti
(1965– )
President of Lazio

Prima le Persone
(People First)
7 July 2018 [70][71]
  Francesco Boccia
(1968– )
Member of the Chamber of Deputies

A porte aperte
(With doors open)
8 October 2018 [72][73]
  Maurizio Martina
(1978– )
Secretary of the Democratic Party

Fianco a Fianco
(Side by Side)
22 November 2018 [74][75]
  Roberto Giachetti
(1961– )
Member of the Chamber of Deputies

Sempre Avanti
(Always Forward)
11 December 2018 [66][76]

Minor candidatesEdit


Nicola ZingarettiEdit

Nicola Zingaretti
Former Prime Ministers
Former Ministers


Members of the European Parliament
Presidents of Regions
Mayors (only provincial capitals)
Mayors (only cities with no less than 15,000 residents)

Luciano Andreotti,[107] Gianluca Angelelli,[107] Alberto Bellelli,[107] Maino Benatti,[107] David Bussagli,[107] Emanuele Crestini,[107] Simone Cretaro,[107] Giacomo Cucini,[107] Enzo Cuomo [it],[107] Francesco De Rebotti,[107] Paolo Festa,[107] Emiliano Fossi,[107] Alessandro Franchi,[107] Giuseppe Germani,[107] Matteo Gozzoli,[107] Ilenia Malavasi,[107] Maurizio Mangialardi,[109] Nicola Marini,[107] Vito Marotta,[107] Simone Millozzi,[107] Esterino Montino,[107] Giuseppe Morini,[107] Giulia Mugnai,[107] Federica Nannetti,[107] Lorenzo Piazzai,[107] Antonio Pompeo,[107] Mario Pupillo,[107] Stefano Reggianini,[107] Pierluigi Sanna,[107] Roberto Solomita,[107] Pietro Tidei [it],[107] Alfio Todini[107]

Other politicians

Silvana Amati,[109] Gianni Cuperlo, Paolo D'Erasmo,[110] Francesco De Angelis,[111] Stefania Gasparini,[112] Elisabetta Gualmini,[113] Carlo Guccione,[114] Vincenzo Insardà,[115] Antonio Mastrovincenzo,[109] Michele Mirabello,[116] Giuliano Pisapia,[117][118] Francesca Puglisi [it],[119] Marina Sereni,[120][121] Liana Serrani [it][122]

Non-political personalities
Organizations and platforms

Maurizio MartinaEdit

Maurizio Martina
Former Prime Ministers
Former Ministers

Carla Cantone [it],[133]Stefano Ceccanti [it], Andrea De Maria [it],[134] Emanuele Fiano, Lorenzo Guerini, Matteo Orfini, Luca Rizzo Nervo [it],[135] Ettore Rosato, Debora Serracchiani,[136] Diego Zardini [it][137]


Vincenzo D'Arienzo [it],[137] Andrea Marcucci, Tommaso Nannicini [it],[138] Matteo Richetti

Members of the European Parliament
Presidents of Regions
Mayors (only cities with no less than 15,000 residents)
Other politicians

Maria Saladino[140]

Non-political personalities

Mauro Berruto

Organizations and platforms

Roberto GiachettiEdit

Roberto Giachetti
Former Prime Ministers
Former Ministers

Michele Anzaldi [it], Anna Ascani,[143] Luigi Marattin [it]

Members of the European Parliament
Presidents of Regions
Mayors (only provincial capitals)
Mayors (only cities with no less than 15,000 residents)
Other politicians

Enrico Morando [it], Sandro Gozi[144]

Non-political personalities
Organizations and platforms

Former candidatesEdit

Marco Minniti
Former Prime Ministers
Former Ministers

Anna Ascani,[149]Stefano Ceccanti [it],[150] Piero De Luca [it],[151] Emanuele Fiano,[152][153] Lorenzo Guerini,[150] Gennaro Migliore,[154] Alessia Morani,[155][156] Alberto Pagani [it] [157]


Alessandro Alfieri [it],[159] Gianni Pittella[150][160][161]


Stefano Esposito [it],[162] Claudio Moscardelli [it][163]

Members of the European Parliament
Presidents of Regions
Mayors (only provincial capitals)
Mayors (only cities with no less than 15,000 residents)

Giancarlo Acerbi,[166] Pietro Amitrano,[166] Vincenzo Ascione,[166] Angela Bagni,[166] Sergio Batino,[166] Giuseppe Bencivenga,[166] Rodolfo Bertoli,[166] Cristian Betti,[166] Ciro Bonajuto,[166] Saverio Bosco,[166] Mario Bruno,[166] Giuseppe Canfora,[166] Giorgio Cangiano,[166] Pino Capalbo,[166] Santo Caruso,[166] Claudio Castello,[166] Andrea Cereser,[166] Giuseppe Cirillo,[166] Rosalba Piera Colombo,[166] Isabella Conti,[166] Adamo Coppola,[166] Alberto Crisianini,[166] Francesco Del Deo,[166] Marco Antonio Del Prete,[166] Antonino Di Fuardo,[166] Sergio Di Raimo,[166] Enzo Ferrandino,[166] Francesco Fiordomo,[166] Filippo Frittelli,[166] Pasquale Fuccio,[166] Vittorio Gabbanini,[166] Enrico Ioculano,[166] Samuele Lippi,[166] Maurilio Longhin,[166] Vincenzo Magra,[166] Giacomo Mangoni,[166] Dario Mantovani,[166] Marco Mazzanti,[166] Francesco Menna,[166] Paolo Micheli,[166] Francesco Miglio,[166] Rocchino Muliere,[166] Sebastian Nicoli,[166] Fabrizio Pagani,[166] Maria Rosa Pavanello,[166] Massimiliano Pescini,[166] Alberto Polo,[166] Massimiliano Presciutti,[166] Stefania Proietti,[166] Simone Pugnaloni,[166] Rosaria Punzo,[166] Santi Rando,[166] Aurelio Russo,[166] Dimitri Russo,[166] Antonio Sabino,[166] Angelo Sbrocca,[166] Clara Scapin,[166] Alessio Spinelli,[166] Palmiro Ucchielli,[166] Francesca Valenti,[166] Gianfranco Valiante,[166] Franco Zaccaria,[166] Ermanno Zacchetti,[166] Giorgio Zinno.[166]

Other politicians

Fabiano Amati,[92] Nicola Irto,[168] Marco Leonardi,[169] Giacomo Mancini [it],[170] Pietro Mannoni,[171] Mino Mortaruolo,[148] Marcella Zappaterra[172]

Non-political personalities

Giuseppe Vacca [it], philosopher and historian[92]

Organizations and platforms



Opinion pollsEdit

Advanced candidatesEdit

Date Polling firm Sample size       Lead
Zingaretti Martina Giachetti
22–27 Feb 2019 Bidimedia 1,084 60.0 23.0 17.0 37.0
26 Feb 2019 EMG 1,603 58.0 32.0 10.0 26.0
26 Feb 2019 Noto 55.0 27.0 18.0 28.0
25–26 Feb 2019 Demopolis 2,000 48.0–60.0 27.0–39.0 8.0–18.0 9.0–33.0
19 Feb 2019 EMG 1,802 58.0 34.0 8.0 24.0
14–17 Feb 2019 Winpoll 1,500 61.0 21.0 18.0 40.0
14 Feb 2019 EMG 56.0 37.0 7.0 19.0
2–6 Feb 2019 Bidimedia 1,113 56.0 25.0 19.0 31.0
5 Feb 2019 EMG 1,803 55.0 37.0 8.0 18.0

Before vote by party membersEdit

Date Polling firm Sample size         Others Lead
Zingaretti Boccia Martina Giachetti
3 Feb Zingaretti, Martina and Giachetti advance to open primary election
Boccia endorsed Zingaretti, Saladino endorsed Martina
7–10 Jan 2019 Bidimedia 1,096 49.0 1.0 25.0 21.0 4.0 24.0
18–21 Dec 2018 Twig 1,001 48.1 N/A 43.2 8.7 0.0 4.9
17–21 Dec 2018 BiDimedia 1,018 50.0 4.0 22.0 20.0 4.0 28.0
18 Dec 2018 EMG 1,611 50.0 3.0 29.0 9.0 10.0 21.0
13 Dec 2018 EMG 2,000 52.0 4.0 33.0 7.0 4.0 19.0
12–13 Dec 2018 Ipsos 1,000 39.0 N/A 17.0 8.0 36.0 22.0

Hypothetical pollsEdit


Vote by party membersEdit

Candidate Votes % Result
Nicola Zingaretti 88,918 47.38
Maurizio Martina 67,749 36.10
Roberto Giachetti 20,887 11.13
Francesco Boccia 7,537 4.02
Maria Saladino 1,315 0.70
Dario Corallo 1,266 0.67
Total valid votes 187,672 100.0
Invalid/blank votes 1,429
Total votes 189,101 100.0
Registered voters 374,786
Source: Partito Democratico – Results
Member vote

Primary electionEdit

Candidate Votes % Delegates
Nicola Zingaretti 1,035,955 66.00 653
Maurizio Martina 345,318 22.00 228
Roberto Giachetti 188,355 12.00 119
Total valid votes  1,569,628 100.0 1,000
Invalid/blank votes 12,455
Total votes 1,582,083 100.0
Source: Partito Democratico – Results[dubious ]
Popular vote

Delegates summaryEdit

Portrait Name Delegates
653/1000 (65%)

  Maurizio Martina
228/1000 (23%)

  Roberto Giachetti
119/1000 (12%)


The results of the popular vote were suspected of being "almost impossible on a statistical level", given that all three resulting percentages for each candidate are perfectly rounded numbers.[180] The editorial staff of Il Post tried to contact the Democratic Party National Committee for further explanations but no answer was ever given.[181]


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  29. ^ See article Questo PD è da cambiare (in Italian).
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