Parliamentary Chamber: Camera dei Deputati


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  Camera dei Deputati

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  21 April 1996

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in the Chamber of Deputies following premature dissolution of Parliament on 16 February 1996. Polling had previously been held in March 1994.

Background and outcome of elections:

  General elections had previously been held in late March 1994. The following December, the Northern League, a member of the ruling Freedom Alliance, withdrew its support of the conservative Government headed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, causing it to fall and be succeeded by the interim "technocrat" administration of Prime Minister Lamberto Dini. Lacking sufficient legislative support, the latter in turn resigned in January 1996 and, the following month, President of the Republic Oscar Luigi Scalfaro dissolved Parliament and asked Mr. Dini to remain in office in a caretaker capacity until the poll to be held in April - three years ahead of schedule. This decision followed fruitless negotiations between the country's opposing political blocs on forming a broad-based government and agreeing on constitutional and electoral reforms without resorting to a vote.

Campaigning began on 18 March, with the main contestants being two broad alliances: the centre-left Olive Tree, headed by the ex-communist Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), and the centre-right Freedom Alliance, led by Mr. Berlusconi's Forza Italia and the National Alliance (AN) of Mr. Gianfranco Fini. They were opposed by the Northern League of Mr. Umberto Bossi and the Refounded Communists party headed by Mr. Fausto Bertinotti. Altogether 273 separate groups submitted lists of candidates. While key issues of debate concerned the economy, taxation and health care reform, the emphasis lay as much on differences between the main party leaders as on policies, as well as on the question of stability of the major alliances. The publication of opinion polls was banned in the last weeks prior to polling.

Voting results gave the Olive Tree alliance, led by Mr. Romano Prodi, clear victories in both the Chamber of Deputies and Senate as it captured exactly half the seats of the latter but fell short of an absolute majority in the Chamber, thus requiring it to seek outside support. The overall outcome signalled the first assumption of power by the left in nearly 150 years and reinforced the trend to bipolarisation of Italian politics. In this context, Mr. Prodi, an economist regarded as a moderate in his camp and untainted by the corruption charges which plagued rival politicians, vowed to build consensus between the Government, business and trade unions; he also pledged a strong stand in fiscal policy to meet European monetary union criteria. The Olive Free programme had furthermore emphasised privatisation and sweeping electoral reforms.

On 9 May, the newly elected Parliament held its inaugural session. On 18 May, the new 20-member Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Prodi was formed. It included nine PDS members (but not its leader, Mr. Messimo d'Alema) and Mr. Dini (Italian Renewal List) as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Round no 1 (21 April 1996): Elections results. Majority vote  
Number of registered electors 48,846,238
Voters 40,496,438 (82,9%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 3,173,423
Valid votes 37,323,015
Round no 1 (21 April 1996): Elections results. Proportional representation vote  
Number of registered electors 48,744,846
Voters 40,401,774 (82,88%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 2,901,255
Valid votes 37,500,519

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group % Majority % Proportional
Olive Tree 42.7 34.8
Freedom Alliance 40.3 42.1
Northern League 9.9 10.1
Refounded Communists 2.7 8.6
Others 4.4 4.4

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Proportional Majority
Olive Tree 284 38 246
Freedom Alliance 246 77 169
Northern League 59 20 39
Refounded Communists 35 20 15
Others 6 0 6

  Olive Tree includes Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), Italian Popular Party (PPI)-Prodi List, Dini Italian Renewal List, Greens and others groups
Freedom Alliance includes United Christian Democrats (CDU)-Christian Democratic Centre (CCD), Forza italiana and National Alliance

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 560
Women: 70
Percent of women: 11.11

Distribution of seats according to age:  
21 to 30 years 9
31 to 40 years 129
41 to 50 years 257
51 to 60 years 168
61 to 70 years 67

Distribution of seats according to profession:

Legal professions 110
Managers 63
Academics/researchers 58
Farmers 54
Journalists/writers/publishers 43
Medical professions 41
Civil servants 40
Teachers 40
Private sector employees 37
Retired 14
Engineers 12
Business/Trade/Industry 12
Trade Unionists 11
Others 98

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Copyright 1996 Inter-Parliamentary Union