Historical Right

Historical Right
Destra Storica
Historical leaders Massimo d'Azeglio
Camillo Benso di Cavour
Quintino Sella
Bettino Ricasoli
Alfonso La Marmora
Luigi Federico Menabrea
Giovanni Lanza
Marco Minghetti
Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
Founded 1861 (1861)
Dissolved 1913 (1913)
Preceded by Moderate Party
Merged into Liberal Union
Headquarters Palazzo Montecitorio, Rome
Ideology Conservatism (Italian)[1]
Internal factions:
  Classical liberalism
Political position Right-wing

The Historical Right (Italian: Destra Storica), officially known as The Right (Italian: La Destra) and sometimes called Liberal Constitutional Party (Italian: Partito Liberale Costituzionale, PLC),[2] was a conservative and royalist parliamentary group in Italy during the second half of the 19th century.[3] The members of The Right were also known as Moderates, from the name of the Moderate Party, the Piedmontese parliamentary organization which preceded it. It was founded in 1849 under the Piedmontese government of Massimo d'Azeglio to distinguish the Cabinet coalition from its opposition, the Historical Left. It was not a structured party but simply a parliamentary group.


The Right was founded as a parliamentary group in the Piedmontese Parliament in 1861, under the premiership of Massimo D'Azeglio, as heir of the Sardinian Moderate Party.

The Historical Right, known as the heir of Count Cavour and the expression of the liberal bourgeoisie, won the Italian general elections from 1861 to 1874. Its members were mostly large landowners, industrialists and people related to the military, supporting free trade market and centralism. In foreign relations, their goal was the unification of Italy, primarily searching an alliance with the British Empire and the French Empire, but sometimes also with the German Empire against Austria.[4]

The Right dominated the political life in Italy until 1876, when the right-wing government of Marco Minghetti collapsed shortly after achieving the budget parity. The overthrown of Minghetti's government was called "Parliamentary Revolution". However, Depretis immediately began to look for support among Rightists MPs, who readily changed their positions, in a context of widespread corruption. This phenomenon, known in Italian as Trasformismo (roughly translatable in English as "transformism"—in a satirical newspaper, the PM was depicted as a chameleon), effectively removed political differences in Parliament, which was dominated by an undistinguished liberal bloc with a landslide majority until after World War I.

Ideology and platform

The Right was represented the interests of the Northern liberal bourgeoisie and the Southern nester aristocracy, like also military officers. It supported free trade and laissez-faire, strong central government, pragmatic foreign policy and obligatory conscription. In 1860s, the Right governments adopted modernization policies, supported by high taxation, to make Italy competitive with other European countries. Under Marco Minghetti, Italy had its first balanced budget,[5] realised by Finance Minister Quintino Sella. However, in 1868 the Right became more umpopular when increaed indirect taxes, like the cereal tax, causing several revolts, that were repressed by police.

The Right was also more secular and anti-clerical than the Left, and supported the law of Papal Guarantees, causing Pope Pius IX's Non Expedit.

There were two factions in the Historical Right:

Electoral results

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1861 unknown (#1) 46.1
342 / 443
Camillo Benso di Cavour
1865 unknown (#1) 41.2
183 / 443
Decrease 159
Alfonso La Marmora
1867 84,685 (#2) 39.2
151 / 493
Decrease 32
Bettino Ricasoli
1870 110,525 (#1) 37.2
233 / 508
Increase 82
Giovanni Lanza
1874 156,784 (#1) 53.6
276 / 508
Increase 43
Marco Minghetti
1876 97,726 (#2) 28.2
94 / 508
Decrease 182
Marco Minghetti
1880 135,797 (#2) 37.9
171 / 508
Increase 77
Marco Minghetti
1882 unknown (#2) 28.9
147 / 508
Decrease 24
Marco Minghetti
1886 unknown (#2) 27.9
145 / 508
Decrease 2
Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
1890 unknown (#2) 9.4
48 / 508
Decrease 97
Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
1892 unknown (#2) 18.3
93 / 508
Increase 45
Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
1895 263,315 (#2) 21.6
104 / 508
Increase 11
Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
1897 unknown (#2) 19.4
99 / 508
Decrease 5
Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
1900 271,698 (#2) 21.4
116 / 508
Increase 17
Antonio Starabba di Rudinì
1904 212,584 (#3) 13.9
76 / 508
Decrease 20
Tommaso Tittoni
1909 108,029 (#4) 5.9
44 / 508
Decrease 32
Sidney Sonnino


  1. "Destra Storica Italiana". Treccani.
  2. La Stampa historical archive
  3. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overwiev
  4. Italy: a Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present
  5. XII/elenco
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