History of Italy / Politics

The Catholic pendulum in Italian politics

During the First Republic it was simple: the Christian Democratic party was the unofficial party of the Church, the heir of the Popular Party founded by a priest, Father Luigi Sturzo.

During the first part of the Second Republic the Church more or less supported Silvio Berlusconi, turning a blind eye on many thing in exchange for his defense of the traditional family: Italy still doesn’t allow the gay marriage, or recognize common law marriages.

However, that was embarrassing, and the wearness of the odd alliance became apparent in 2013, when Mr Berlusconi tried to torpedo Enrico Letta’s moderate Government and was abandoned by his Catholic-oriented MPs who founded the New Right, which still supports Mr Renzi’s Government.

However, this week Mr Renzi was forced to sack hisĀ Minister of Transportation Maurizio Lupi, a member of New Right and of the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation. Mr Lupi had been involved in a minor scandal related to the arrest of his Director General and of a ministerial contractor, as well as some “favors” allegedly made to Mr Lupi’s son.

Mr Lupi’s partly had a mixed reaction to Mr Renzi’s move, and some Catholic circles are complaining that abandoning Mr Berlusconi was a bad decision, instigated by a judiciary which is perceived as hostile to the Catholic doctrine since the Constitutional Court quashed some laws approved by Catholics and the ordinary Courts are generally supportive of LGBT rights.

Another options could be apply the “Berlusconi standard” id est looking at the agenda of a party rather than to its leaders. A return to Berlusconi is unlikely since he now endorses LGBT rights. A more acceptable candidate could be Matteo Salvini, the leader of the conservative Northern League, perhaps in team with Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the rightist Brothers of Italy.

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