People of Freedom
Published 27th February, 2013
The People of Freedom or PdL was founded on 18th November 2007, although not formally until 2009, by Silvio Berlusconi from a merger of Forza Italia (FI) and the National Alliance (AN). The party describes itself as Centre-right and believes in Liberal Conservatism and Christian Democracy.
In the lead up to the 2008 general election an additional thirteen smaller parties also decided to join the People of Freedom. At the general election the party took 37.4% of the vote and 276 Deputies in the 630 seat Chamber of Deputies. In the upper house or Senate, the PdL took 146 of the 315 seats.
As the largest party the People of Freedom went into Coalition with the Northern League and Silvio Berlusconi became Prime Minister until November 2011. The wide ranging views within the party were always going to create some problems. These started with disagreements between Gianfranco Fini, the former leader of the National Alliance, and Silvio Berlusconi and then spread as the party decided to take on a broader Christian Democratic stance after disastrous local elections in 2011. Fini and a number of followers left the party in July 2010 and formed Future and Freedom (FLI)
Eventually the economic crisis in Italy along with a number of scandals and court cases being faced by Silvio Berlusconi led him to resign as prime minister on 12th November 2011. The party decided to support the new technocrat government led by Mario Monti which created further tensions in the party.
On 24th October 2012 Berlusconi announced that he would not stand again for Prime Minister in 2013 and subsequently the party decided to vote against the government causing Mario Monti to resign in the December leading to a general election being called for 24/25th February 2013.
With all of the disagreements occurring within the party there were further splits with Giulio Tremonti leaving the party on 3rd October 2012 to form the Labour and Freedom List and on 22nd November 2012 another group of MPs led by Isabella Bertolini left to form the Free Italy group.
In the 2013 general election Berlusconi’s media empire worked wonders for the PdL and against all odds the party took 29.13% of the vote in the Chamber of Deputies, although this only translated into 124 seats. Nevertheless the party became the largest party in the upper house or Senate, taking 116 of the 315 seats and denying the centre-left Democratic Party the opportunity of forming a stable government.
The People of Freedom is affiliated to the European People’s Party (EPP) and is a member of its European Parliamentary group where they have 22 of 73 national seats in the European Parliament.