Left Ecology Freedom

Left Ecology Freedom
Sinistra Ecologia Libertà
President Nichi Vendola
Vice Presidents Maria Luisa Boccia
Fabio Mussi
Coordinator Nicola Fratoianni
Founded 16 March 2009 (launched)
22 October 2010 (founded)
Merger of Movement for the Left
Democratic Left
Unite the Left
Ecologists Association
Socialism and Left
Newspaper none
Membership  (2013) 34,279[1]
Ideology Democratic socialism[2]
Political position Left-wing[3]
National affiliation IBC (2013 election)
AET (2014 EP election)
Italian Left (2015–present)
European affiliation none
European Parliament group European United Left–Nordic Green Left
Colours      Red
Chamber of Deputies
25 / 630
7 / 315
European Parliament
1 / 73

Left Ecology Freedom[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] (Italian: Sinistra Ecologia Libertà,[11] SEL) is a democratic socialist[2] political party in Italy, whose bulk is formed by former members of the Communist Refoundation Party.

The party's leader is Nichi Vendola, former governor of Apulia.

According to party documents, SEL is the answer to "a dramatic vacuum at the left" and aims at building an alternative to modern capitalism and a political left for the new century. "The "fundamental principles" of SEL are "peace and nonviolence, employment and social justice, knowledge and ecological reconversion of the economy and society".

Two independents close to SEL, Giuliano Pisapia and Marco Doria, are mayors of Milan and Genoa, respectively. Another SEL independent, Laura Boldrini, is President of the Chamber of Deputies.


Left and Freedom

SEL was formed as an alliance called Left and Freedom (Italian: Sinistra e Libertà, SL) in the run up to the 2009 European Parliament election in order to overcome the 4% threshold introduced by the new electoral law in February 2009.[4]

At the time of formation, on 16 March 2009, SL included:

The electoral symbol for the 2009 election included the logos of the Party of European Socialists (PES), the Federation of the Greens (a member of the European Greens), the European United Left–Nordic Green Left (GUE–NGL).

In the election, SL failed to pass the 4% threshold. Despite that, it was decided that SL would become a party.

Road to the new party

In October 2009, during a party congress, the Greens elected a new party leader, Angelo Bonelli, and voted to opt out from the process of the foundation of the new party.[12][13] However, Francescato and her faction decided to keep supporting SL as Ecologists with Left Ecology Freedom and leave the Greens.[14] SL was also weakened by the split occurred within PS, when the United Socialists, who were opposed to the integration of PS into SL, walked out.[15][16] Finally in November SL was hit by the sudden opt-out of the whole PS.[17][18] Since November 2009 SL was thus composed of MpS, SD, UlS, the Ecologists and Socialism and Left, a small minority of PS that wanted to continue the experience of SL.[19] In December SL was officially launched as a party[20] and Vendola was elected spokesperson.[21]

After an important meeting in September in Naples, where it was decided to add "Ecology" to the party's name,[22] in December 2009 Left Ecology and Freedom (SEL) held a constituent assembly in Rome. The new symbol was presented and Vendola was confirmed as spokesperson.

SEL, often in coalition with the PS, did well in the 2010 regional elections, especially in Central and Southern Italy. Overall, SEL won 3.0% of the vote, with the PS at 0.7% and the Greens at 0.2%. In the Apulian election Vendola was re-elected President of the Region and trailed SEL to 9.7%, its best regional result.[23]

Nichi Vendola during the party's first congress in Florence.

The party was officially founded in a congress in Florence on 22–24 October 2010. Vendola was elected president.[24]

Road to 2013

In 2011 and 2012 the party offered a strong competition to the Democratic Party (PD) in coalition primaries in many cities. In May 2011 Giuliano Pisapia and Massimo Zedda, who had been supported by SEL in primaries, were elected mayors of Milan and Cagliari, respectively. The party gained 5% in Milan, 6% in Turin, 10% in Bologna, 6% in Trieste, 4% in Naples and 7% in Cagliari.

In occasion of the 2011 referendums of June 2011 (on the abrogation of a law allowing the construction of nuclear power plants in Italy, the abrogation of a law allowing the privatisation of water management and the abrogation of so-called "legitimate impediment"), SEL gave full support to the "yes" committees. In May 2012 Marco Doria, another independent close to SEL, was elected Mayor of Genoa.

In August 2012 Vendola announced his bid for the primary election in order to select the candidate for Prime Minister of the PD-led center-left in the 2013 general election. On 25 November Vendola won 15.6% of the vote and came third behind Democrats Pier Luigi Bersani (44.9%) and Matteo Renzi (35.5%). In the run-off Vendola supported Bersani, who defeated Renzi 60.9% to 39.1%.[25] SEL selected its candidates for the election through a closed primary in December 2012.[26]

2013 general election

In the 2013 general election, which took place in February 2013, the party was part of the centre-left coalition Italy. Common Good, which supported PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani as candidate for Prime Minister. In the election SEL won 3.2% of the vote, returning 37 deputies and 7 senators. In its Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol's list SEL included some representatives of the Greens of South Tyrol: one of them, Florian Kronbichler, was elected to the Chamber.

On 16 March 2013 Laura Boldrini, an independent member of SEL, was elected President of the Chamber of Deputies.

In September SEL expressed its intention to join the Party of European Socialists (PES),[27] however in January 2014 the party finally endorsed Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) and standard-bearer of the Party of European Left in the 2014 European Parliament election, as their chosen candidate for President of the European Commission,[28] and contested the election within The Other Europe electoral list.[29]

2014 European Parliament election

Ahead of the 2014 European Parliament election the party participated in the formation of a left-wing joint list, The Other Europe, which was endorsed by Alexis Tsipras and included several intellectuals and the Communist Refoundation Party. In the election the list obtained 4.0% of the vote and 3 MEPs.

Right after the election, the party suffered a severe split in its parliamentary ranks as 12 deputies out of 37, including the floor leader Gennaro Migliore (who was replaced by Nicola Fratoianni and, soon after, Arturo Scotto), left the party over disagreements with the party's line and started to support the Renzi Cabinet.[30][31][32] The bulk of the splinters joined forces in Freedom and Rights – European Socialists,[33][34][35] while some others directly joined Renzi's Democratic Party.[36]

In November 2015 SEL formed a joint parliamentary group in the Chamber, named Italian Left (SI), with splinters from the PD (see Future to the Left) and other parties.[37][38] In February 2016 SI held its constituent assembly in Rome, where it was announced that SI will be founded as a full-fledged party in December.[39][40][41] In March 2016 SI was established as a sub-group within the Mixed Group in the Senate: five SEL senators joined,[42] while other two (including Sardist Luciano Uras)[43] refused to do so.[44]


On 12 June 2012, the party announced its intention to support a law initiative for the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income.[45] On 15 April 2013, a delegation of newly elected MPs handed over to the new President of the Chamber of Deputies Laura Boldrini a list of 50,000 signatures that were quested to submit the initiative. The project is meant to provide a minimum income of €600 per month to unemployed and underemployed persons with an income of less than €8,000 per year.[46]

On immigration policy, the party endorsed the abolition of the "BossiFini" immigration law. The party argues that the existing system has increasingly worsened the plight of migrants by establishing the crime of illegal immigration and violating fundamental human rights through indefinite detention in the centers for identification and expulsion. The party also calls for children of migrant parents to acquire Italian citizenship through a faster track.

The party endorsed the recognition of same-sex marriages. This position was officially approved during a party congress in Florence, which resulted in the request for the extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples. The party also supports LGBT parenting.[47]

Since its foundation, Left Ecology Freedom has been prompting proposals to reduce military expenditure in Italy.[48] In particular, the party's 2013 electoral platform reaffirmed the commitment to non-violent conflict resolution (as per article 11 of Italy's constitution), the withdrawal of Italian troops from Afghanistan, and the annullation of the purchase of more F–35 Joint Strike Fighter military aircraft.

Electoral results

Italian Parliament

Chamber of Deputies
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2013 1,089,442 (#6) 3.2
37 / 630
Nichi Vendola
Senate of the Republic
Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2013 912,347 (#6) 3.0
7 / 315
Nichi Vendola

European Parliament

Election year # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Leader
2009 958,458 3.1
0 / 72
Nichi Vendola
2014 1,103,203° 4.0
3 / 73
Nichi Vendola

° SEL was part of The Other Europe list.

Regional Councils

Region Last election # of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
Abruzzo 2014 16,151 (#11) 2.4
1 / 31
Apulia 2015 108,920 (#6) 6.5
6 / 51
Basilicata 2013 12,204 (#7) 5.2
1 / 21
Calabria 2014 34,120 (#9) 4.4
1 / 30
Campania 2015 53,000 (#11) 2.3
0 / 51
Emilia-Romagna 2014 38,845 (#6) 3.2
2 / 50
Friuli-Venezia Giulia 2013 17,764 (#7) 4.5
3 / 49
Lazio 2013 103,692 (#7) 3.7
1 / 51
Lombardy 2013 97,62 (#8) 1.8
0 / 80
Marche 2015 20,266 (#8) 3.8
0 / 31
Molise 2013 5,015 (#14) 3.0
1 / 21
Piedmont 2014 40,873 (#9) 2.1
1 / 50
Sardinia 2014 35,376 (#5) 5.2
4 / 60
Sicily 2012 58,753 (#12) 3.1
0 / 90
Tuscany 2015 83,187 (#5) 6.3
2 / 41
Umbria 2015 9,010 (#9) 2.6
1 / 20
Veneto 2015 20,282 (#14) 1.1
0 / 51



Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sinistra Ecologia Libertà.


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  4. 1 2 Tom Lansford (8 April 2014). Political Handbook of the World 2014. SAGE Publications. p. 710. ISBN 978-1-4833-3327-4.
  5. Bogdan Patrut; Monica Patrut (1 January 2014). Social Media in Politics: Case Studies on the Political Power Or Social Media. Springer. p. 71. ISBN 978-3-319-04666-2.
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  8. Nichi Vendola, the head of the leftist Left, Ecology, Freedom party was in third place with 14% of the vote - BBC
  9. Nichi Vendola, the openly gay head of the left-wing Left, Ecology, Freedom party was in third place with 15%, while the remaining two candidates, Bruno Tabacci and Laura Puppato, trailed far behind - EurActiv
  10. Members of Left, Ecology, Freedom – a leftwing opposition party – filed an urgent question in the Italian parliament on Thursday, calling on Angelino Alfano, Italy’s interior minister, to explain the deportations and to give assurances of the pair’s safety in view of Kazakhstan’s “disgraceful” human rights record - Financial Times
  11. "Statuto – Sinistra Ecologia Libertà". Sinistra Ecologia Libertà. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
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  49. The role of spokesperson was renamed as president at the 2010 congress.
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