Italia Viva (English: Italy Alive, IV) is a liberal political party in Italy founded in September 2019. The party is led by Matteo Renzi, a former Prime Minister of Italy and former secretary of the Democratic Party (PD).
|Founded||18 September 2019|
|Split from||Democratic Party|
|Chamber of Deputies[a]|
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Matteo Renzi, a devout Catholic, a former scout leader of AGESCI and a centrist, started his political career in the Italian People's Party (PPI), a Christian-democratic outfit, and was elected president of the Province of Florence in 2004. Through Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy party he joined the Democratic Party in 2007 and was elected Mayor of Florence in 2009. A frequent critic of his party's leadership, especially under Pier Luigi Bersani, Renzi made his name as il Rottamatore, in English the Scrapper or the Demolisher (of old leaders and ideas), for his advocacy of complete change in the party, as well as a reformer and a modernizer. His followers were known as Renziani.
Speculations over the formation of a separate party by Renzi date back to 2012, when he was defeated by Bersani in the run-off of the centre-left primary election. Rumors stopped when Renzi was elected secretary of the PD in December 2013 and was sworn in as Prime Minister in February 2014. He led the party to huge electoral success in the 2014 European Parliament election (40.8%), but badly lost the 2016 Italian constitutional referendum (59.1% to 40.9%), which caused his resignation as Prime Minister.
After the PD's defeat in the 2018 general election, in which the PD only gained 18.7% of vote, forcing Renzi to resign as secretary, rumours came back. In March 2019 Nicola Zingaretti, a social democrat and a prominent member of the left-wing, with solid roots in the Italian Communist Party, won the leadership election by a landslide, defeating Maurizio Martina (Renzi's former deputy secretary) and Roberto Giachetti (supported by most Renziani). Zingaretti focused his campaign on a clear contrast with Renzi's policies and his electoral victory was seen by many commentators as a defeat for the former Prime Minister, opening the way to a new party.
In August 2019 tensions grew within the coalition supporting the Giuseppe Conte's first government, leading to the issuing of a motion of no-confidence by the League. Despite having opposed it in the past, Renzi advocated the formation of a new government between the PD and the populist Five Star Movement (M5S). After days of tensions within the PD, on 28 August, Zingaretti announced his favourable position regarding a new government with the M5S, led by Conte. The Conte II Cabinet was sworn in on 5 September, and Renzi was seen by many political analysts and journalists as the real kingmaker of the new parliamentary majority.
On 16 September, in an interview to la Repubblica, Renzi announced his intention to leave the PD, and create new parliamentary groups. On the same day, interviewed by Bruno Vespa during the late-night TV talk-show Porta a Porta, he officially launched Italia Viva. In the interview he confirmed also the support to Conte's government. Renzi was initially followed by 24 deputies and 12 senators from the PD, notably including Maria Elena Boschi, Roberto Giachetti, Teresa Bellanova (Minister of Agriculture) and Elena Bonetti (Minister of Family and Equal Opportunities). Three more senators, Donatella Conzatti, Riccardo Nencini and Gelsomina Vono, joined respectively from Forza Italia (FI), Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and M5S, while one deputy, Gabriele Toccafondi, joined from Popular Civic List (CP). In October, Renata Polverini, a FI's bigwig and former president of Lazio, announced her exit from the party and the subsequent entry into Italia Viva.
The split was condemned by the PD's leadership: Zingaretti described it as a "mistake", while Dario Franceschini as a "big problem". Beppe Grillo, founder of the M5S, described Renzi's actions as "an act of narcissism". Prime Minister Conte declared his perplexity too, saying that Renzi "should have informed [him] before the birth of the government". Additionally, Il Foglio revealed that internet domains italiaviva.eu and italiaviva.org were created on 9 August 2019, hinting that the split had been prepared in advance. The following day la Repubblica revealed that the domains were bought by Alessandro Risso, a former member of Christian Democracy and the PPI from Piedmont. However, Risso explained that his moves had nothing to do with Renzi, whom he opposed.
Italia Viva's backbone was largely based on the "Committees of Civil Action" of Back to the Future, launched by Renzi during the 2018 Leopolda convention in Florence and seen by some people as the initial step of a new party. Ettore Rosato, the organizer of the committees, and Bellanova were appointed party's coordinators.
Italia Viva is considered a liberal and "reformist" party. Its "Charter of Values", presented in October 2019, referred to republican and anti-fascist values expressed in the Constitution of Italy, as well as in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The movement also emphasized the principle of gender equality, the relaunch of globalization and a strong opposition to all forms of protectionism and souverainism. It also supported a more incisive European political and economic integration, with the direct election of the President of the European Commission and the introduction of transnational lists.
- Leader: Matteo Renzi (2019–present)
- Coordinator: Teresa Bellanova (2019–present), Ettore Rosato (2019–present)
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