Italian People's Party (1919)

For the party with the same name which was active from 1994 to 2002, see Italian People's Party (1994).
Italian People's Party
Partito Popolare Italiano
Historical leaders Luigi Sturzo
Alcide De Gasperi
Founded 18 January 1919
Dissolved 5 November 1926
Succeeded by Christian Democracy[1]
(not legal successor)
Newspaper Il Popolo
Ideology Christian democracy
Christian corporatism
Political position Centre[1]
Religion Roman Catholicism
International affiliation None
Colours      Blue      White

The Italian People's Party (Italian: Partito Popolare Italiano, PPI) was a Christian democratic[2] political party in Italy, inspired by Catholic social teaching.[3]


The Italian People's Party was founded in 1919 by Luigi Sturzo, a Sicilian Catholic priest. The PPI was backed by Pope Benedict XV to oppose the Italian Socialist Party (PSI).[4] The party supported various social reforms, including the foundations of a welfare state, women's suffrage and Proportional representation voting.[4]

In the 1919 general election, the first in which the PPI took part, the party won 20.5% of the vote and 100 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, a result virtually confirmed in 1921. The PPI was the second largest Italian political party after the PSI at the time. Its heartlands were interior Veneto and north-western Lombardy. In 1919 the party won 42.6% in Veneto (49.4% in Vicenza), 30.1% in Lombardy (64.3% in Bergamo), 24.4% in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, 27.3% in the Marche and 26.2% in Lazio, while it was much weaker in Piedmont and in Southern Italy.[5]

The PPI was divided mainly into two factions: the "Christian Democrats" were favourable to an accord with the Socialists, while the "Moderate Clericalists" supported an alliance with the liberal parties, which eventually happened. The latter included Alcide De Gasperi. Some Populars took part in Benito Mussolini's first government in 1922, leading the party to a division between opponents of Mussolini and those who supported him. These eventually joined the National Fascist Party. Most of the PPI members later took part in Christian Democracy.


The party's ideological sources were principally to be found in Catholic social teaching, the Christian democratic doctrines developed from the 19th century and on (see Christian democracy), the political thought of Romolo Murri and Luigi Sturzo. The Papal encyclical, Rerum novarum (1891) of Pope Leo XIII, offered a basis for social and political doctrine.

Electoral results

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
1919 1,167,354 (#2) 20.5
100 / 508
Luigi Sturzo
1921 1,347,305 (#2) 20.4
108 / 535
Luigi Sturzo
1924 645,789 (#2) 9.0
39 / 535
Alcide De Gasperi

Further reading


  1. 1 2 Michael D. Driessen (2014). Religion and Democratization: Framing Religious and Political Identities in Muslim and Catholic Societies. Oxford University Press. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-19-932970-0.
  2. Stanley G. Payne (1995). A History of Fascism, 1914–1945. Univ of Wisconsin Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-299-14874-4.
  3. Maurizio Cotta; Luca Verzichelli (12 May 2007). Political Institutions of Italy. Oxford University Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-19-928470-2. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  4. 1 2 Mark F. Gilbert; K. Robert Nilsson; Robert K. Nilsson (1 April 2010). The A to Z of Modern Italy. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 328. ISBN 978-0-8108-7210-3.
  5. Piergiorgio Corbetta; Maria Serena Piretti, Atlante storico-elettorale d'Italia, Zanichelli, Bologna 2009
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