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General elections were held in Italy on Sunday, 2 June 1946.[1] They were the first after World War II and elected 556 deputies to the Constituent Assembly. Theoretically, a total of 573 deputies were to be elected, but the election did not take place in the Julian March and in South Tyrol, which were under military occupation by the United Nations.

1946 Italian general election

← 1934 2 June 1946 1948 →

All 556 seats in the Constituent Assembly
Turnout89.1%
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Alcide de Gasperi 2.jpg Pietro Nenni 2.jpg Palmiro-Togliatti-00504708.jpg
Leader Alcide De Gasperi Pietro Nenni Palmiro Togliatti
Party Christian Democracy Socialist Party Communist Party
Leader since 1944 1931 1938
Leader's seat Trentino Whole Italy Whole Italy
Seats won 207 115 104
Popular vote 8,101,004 4,758,129 4,356,686
Percentage 35.2% 20.7% 18.9%

Constituent Assembly Italy, 1946 Province.png
Legislative election results map. Light Blue denotes provinces with a Christian Democratic plurality, Red denotes those with a Communist plurality, Salmon denotes those with a Socialist plurality.

Prime Minister before election

Alcide De Gasperi
Christian Democracy

New Prime Minister

Alcide De Gasperi
Christian Democracy

For the first time, Italian women were allowed to vote in a national election. Electors had two votes: one to elect the representatives and one to choose the institutional form of the state.

Electoral systemEdit

To emphasise the restoration of democracy after the fascist era, a pure party-list proportional representation was chosen. Italian provinces were united in 31 constituencies, each electing a group of candidates.[2] At constituency level, seats were divided between open lists using the largest remainder method with the Imperiali quota. Remaining votes and seats were transferred at national level, where special closed lists of national leaders received the last seats using the Hare quota.

CampaignEdit

At the end of World War II, Italy was governed under transitional laws as a result of agreements between the National Liberation Committee (CLN) and the royal Lieutenant General of the Realm Humbert II. As no democratic elections had taken place for more than 20 years, legislative power was given to the government but, after the first election, the Italian Council of Ministers would have to receive a vote of confidence by the new Constituent Assembly.

The three main contestants were Christian Democracy and the Italian Socialist Party, which had both received popular support before the fascist era, and the Italian Communist Party, which had strengthened itself with the armed struggle against Nazism and fascism during the war. The Italian Liberal Party, heir of the pre-fascist and conservative ruling class, proposed an alliance called National Democratic Union. Monarchists groups created the National Bloc of Freedom, while the social liberal Action Party and Labour Democratic Party hoped to maximize the positive image of the governments that they ruled in the National Liberation Committee.

Parties and leadersEdit

ResultsEdit

The election gave a large majority to the government formed by the three leaders of the CLN, which were briefly joined by the Republican Party after the exile of Humbert II. The alliance lasted for a year.

Summary of the 2 June 1946 Constituent Assembly election results
Party Votes % Seats
Christian Democracy 8,101,004 35.21 207
Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity 4,758,129 20.68 115
Italian Communist Party 4,356,686 18.93 104
National Democratic Union[a] 1,560,638 6.78 41
Common Man's Front 1,211,956 5.27 30
Italian Republican Party 1,003,007 4.36 23
National Bloc of Freedom 637,328 2.77 16
Action Party 334,748 1.45 7
Movement for the Independence of Sicily 171,201 0.74 4
Party of Italian Peasants 102,393 0.44 1
Republican Democratic Concentration 97,690 0.42 2
Sardinian Action Party 78,554 0.34 2
Italian Unionist Movement 71,021 0.31 1
Social Christian Party 51,088 0.22 1
Labour Democratic Party 40,633 0.18 1
Republican Progressive Democratic Front[b] 21,853 0.09 1
Others 412,550 1.79 0
Invalid/blank votes 1,936,708
Total 24,947,187 100 556
Registered voters/turnout 28,005,449 89.08
Source: Ministry of Interior
  1. ^ The Labour Democratic Party ran within the banner of the National Democratic Union in most regions.
  2. ^ PSIPCIPRIPdA for Aosta Valley
Popular vote
DC
35.21%
PSIUP
20.68%
PCI
18.93%
UDN
6.78%
UQ
5.27%
PRI
4.36%
BNL
2.77%
PdA
1.45%
Others
4.53%
Parliamentary seats
DC
37.23%
PSIUP
20.68%
PCI
18.71%
UDN
7.37%
UQ
5.40%
PRI
4.14%
BNL
2.88%
PdA
1.26%
Others
2.34%

ReferendumEdit

Together with the election, a constitutional referendum took place. Italian electors had to choose if they wanted to continue the reign of Humbert II of Savoy or to turn Italy into a republic. While all regions of Northern Italy as far as Tuscany and Marches gave a majority to the republic, all regions of Southern Italy to Lazio and Abruzzo voted to maintain the monarchy.

Choice Votes %
Republic 12,717,923 54.3
Monarchy 10,719,284 45.7
Invalid/blank votes 1,498,136
Total 24,935,343 100
Registered voters/turnout 28,005,449 89.1
Source: Official Gazzette

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ The number of seats for each constituency ranged from 1 for Aosta Valley to 36 for Milan.