ⓘ Civic Choice

                                     

ⓘ Civic Choice

Civic Choice was a centrist and liberal political party in Italy founded by Mario Monti.

The party was formed in the run-up of the 2013 general election to support the outgoing Prime Minister Monti and continue his political agenda. In the election SC was part of a centrist coalition named With Monti for Italy, along with Union of the Centre of Pier Ferdinando Casini and Future and Freedom of Gianfranco Fini.

In April 2013 SC became part of the grand coalition government led by Enrico Letta of the Democratic Party. In February 2014 after Lettas resignation, Civic Choice supported the cabinet of Matteo Renzi. After that, the party did not support the cabinet of Paolo Gentiloni and, by the end of 2017, joined forces with Silvio Berlusconis Forza Italia.

The party was de facto disbanded after the 2018 Italian general election.

                                     

1.1. History Foundation and composition

In order to compete in the upcoming general election, on 4 January 2013 technocratic Prime Minister Mario Monti launched SC as an electoral list of the "civil society" to implement his "agenda". It was announced that SC would be part of the With Monti for Italy CMI coalition, alongside the Union of the Centre UdC and Future and Freedom FLI.

At its beginnings SC was composed of several groups and individuals, who were represented in the partys lists:

  • leading figures of Catholic ecclesial movements, such as minister Andrea Riccardi of the Community of SantEgidio and Andrea Olivero of the Christian Associations of Italian Workers ACLI;
  • Union for Trentino Unione per il Trentino, UpT, led by Lorenzo Dellai;
  • Future Italy Italia Futura, IF, led by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo;
  • Toward North Verso Nord, led by Alessio Vianello;
  • Toward the Third Republic Verso la Terza Repubblica, VTR, notably including
  • dissidents from the Democratic Party PD, including Pietro Ichino, Maria Paola Merloni, Alessandro Maran, Benedetto Adragna, plus others retiring from Parliament ;
  • ministers of Montis technical government, including Riccardi, Renato Balduzzi and Enzo Moavero Milanesi ;
  • Italian Union Unione Italiana, UI, led by Gianfranco Librandi;
  • other minor groups and individuals, notably including Linda Lanzillotta a senator elected with ApI, Alberto Bombassei a former vice president of Confindustria, Luigi Marino president of Confcooperative, Mario Sechi, Ilaria Capua, Valentina Vezzali and Annalisa Minetti.
  • individuals from other parties, such as Fabio Gava of the Italian Liberal Party PLI and Emanuela Baio of Alliance for Italy ApI.
  • dissidents from The People of Freedom PdL, including Mario Mauro, Gabriele Albertini and Giuliano Cazzola, plus others retiring from Parliament ;
                                     

1.2. History 2013 general election and aftermath

In the 2013 general election SC obtained 8.3% of the vote, 37 deputies in its own lists and 15 senators within CMI. After the election, SC deputies and senators formed joint groups named "Civic Choice", including also UdC and FLI MPs, in both houses of Parliament.

In late April the party joined Enrico Lettas grand coalition government, which included three SC leading members: Mario Mauro as minister of Defence, Enzo Moavero Milanesi as minister of European Affairs and Carlo Calenda as deputy minister of Economic Development.

The party began to take shape too: on 13 March Monti, who replaced Andrea Riccardi as provisional president, appointed Andrea Olivero as coordinator; on ⍌337⍍ Monti was unanimously elected president by the partys assembly; on ⍌338⍍ the leadership proposed by Monti was approved with only three abstentions. In the event Olivero was confirmed coordinator, Alberto Bombassei was appointed first vice president, and Benedetto Della Vedova, a former member of the Italian Radicals, Forza Italia, the PdL and finally FLI, spokesperson. The rest of the leadership was composed mainly by former Democrats: Maria Paola Merloni vice president, Lorenzo Dellai party leader in the Chamber of Deputies, Gianluca Susta party leader in the Senate, Andrea Causin organizational secretary, Pietro Ichino platform coordinator and Gregorio Gitti local structures coordinator. No member of Future Italy, a liberal think tank, took a leading role.

Since then, the party was often riven by internal disputes. Monti twice presented and later retracted his resignation from president. In late July he clashed with the "Catholic" wing of the party, especially with Olivero, whom he accused of being too close to the UdC whose deputies and senators were part of SCs parliamentary groups. Also Future Italy, seemed to have little patience with the "Catholic" wing and even to be willing to distance from the party.

In this phase, an issue which divided SC was the debate on European party affiliation. Some, including the partys "Catholics", former members of PdL and Monti himself, favoured joining the European Peoples Party EPP, while others, notably those close to Future Italy, Benedetto Della Vedova and Linda Lanzillotta, preferred the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe ALDE Party. It later emerged that Monti had favoured the EPP and had consequently started talks with the EPPs leadership in order to appease the partys Christian democrats led by Mauro and avoid a split.

                                     

1.3. History Montis resignation and Populars split

On 17 October 2013 Monti resigned as president of SC and was replaced by his deputy Alberto Bombassei as acting president. Monti cited his disagreement with 12 senators out of 20, including Mario Mauro, Andrea Olivero, Gabriele Albertini, Pier Ferdinando Casini UdC leader, Maria Paola Merloni, Luigi Marino and Lucio Romano. Particularly, Monti criticized Mauros line of unconditioned support to the government and of transforming SC in a larger centre-right political party, open to the PdL. One of the 12 senators, Tito Di Maggio, was even unveiled as PdL–SC–UdC joint candidate for President in Basilicata.

After Montis abrupt departure, spokesperson Benedetto Della Vedova, who represented the liberal wing of the party, announced that SC would "go on" as a "liberal, peoples, reform and European party" and would never form a partnership with the PdL. Lanzillotta remarked that "Italy needs a liberal, peoples, deeply reform-minded and Europeanist party" and that "we did not take votes for giving life to a Catholic party and being part of a centre-right still led by Berlusconi. For his part, during a TV interview, Monti stated that "my and SCs commitment does not end now" and that "many tell me they did not vote for SC for the specific reason that we were with president Casini; they might have been right".

On 22 October the executive committee voted in favour of the separation from the UdC. The "popular" majority of SCs parliamentary group in the Senate responded by dismissing Susta as floor leader, while Olivero stated that the Populars aimed at forming a party modelled on Germanys Christian Democratic Union. On 6 November the SC senatorial group, dominated by Populars, elected L. Romano as new floor leader; the decision was not endorsed by Bombassei and was opposed by Montiani and liberals, who talked about dismissing Lorenzo Dellai from leader in the Chamber as retaliation.

On 15 November the Populars walked away from the partys national assembly and left the party altogether. The assembly elected Bombassei president and appointed Stefania Giannini secretary. On 23 November the Populars, led by Mauro, Dellai and Olivero, launched Populars for Italy PpI. On 10 December the partys break-up was effective in Parliament: 20 deputies led by Dellai and 12 senators led by L. Romano launched For Italy PI groups, while 26 deputies led by Andrea Romano and 8 senators led by Susta confirmed their allegiance to SC. All the UdC MPs but one joined PI.



                                     

1.4. History From the centre to the Democrats

After Matteo Renzis election as secretary of the Democratic Party PD in December, SC started to approach the centre-left, while ruling out any alliance with the centre-right, once again led by Silvio Berlusconis Forza Italia FI. SC had long expressed a certain affinity for Renzi, and, in early February 2014, Stefania Giannini finally declared that she saw "its party more as the right-wing of a reformed and reforming left than the left-wing of a right that still has in Berlusconi its standard-bearer".

Subsequently, SC was a keen supporter of the replacement of Enrico Letta with Renzi.

On 22 February 2014 the Renzi Cabinet was sworn in with Giannini, a university professor, as minister of Education.

On 4 March it was announced that SC would run in the 2014 European Parliament election within European Choice SE, an electoral list including, among others, Democratic Centre, Act to Stop the Decline and the Italian Liberal Party. Members of SC topped SEs slates in two of five constituencies. The decision to side with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe ALDE Party, cherished by Guy Verhofstadt ALDEs candidate for President of the European Commission and Romano Prodi, prompted the resignation of Andrea Causin, one of SCs few remaining Christian democrats, from organizational secretary.

On 10 April Bombassei resigned as president of the party, citing his disagreement with the partys political re-positionment, the change in partys identity and "prevailing personal ambitions".

On election day SC/SE received just 0.7% of the vote and failed to return any MEPs. Consequently, Giannini resigned from secretary.

In October A. Romano, who had left the position of floor leader in the Chamber some months earlier, left the party in order to join the PD.

                                     

1.5. History Partys congress and diaspora

In November the partys assembly decided that the new leadership, replacing Giannini and Balduzzi, who had been elected to the Supreme Council of Magistrature and had resigned from Parliament, will be selected in a congress to be held in January 2015.

Two candidates, Irene Tinagli and Enrico Zanetti, announced their bid for secretary, while Pietro Ichino was the front-runner to become the partys president. However, in mid December, Tinagli retired from the race. In January 2015 Benedetto Della Vedova came out against Zanetti on the grounds that SC should continue to exist only through its parliamentary groups, tried to stop the congress and finally decided to run for secretary along with a third candidate, Luciana Cazzaniga. During the congress, postponed two weeks in order not to overlap with the presidential election triggered by President Giorgio Napolitanos resignation, Zanetti was virtually unanimously elected secretary.

However, on 6 February, two days before the congress, eight senior members of the party including six former Democrats, including its minister Giannini, its deputy minister Calenda, two deputies and five senators including Giannini, had already left the party; all of them, except Calenda who later became minister, joined the PD. As a result, the party was deprived of its parliamentary group in the Senate. In fact, of the two remaining senators, Della Vedova left during the congress, while Monti was no longer active.

In two years, from the 2013 election to February 2015, SC had lost more than the half of its MPs, mostly to Popular Area and the PD.

                                     

1.6. History Zanettis leadership and further splits

In July 2015 the partys national board elected Salvatore Matarrese president, Angelo DAgostino first vice president and Valentina Vezzali vice president. More important, the assembly decided that the party would change name and symbol by the end of the summer, in the effort of being more competitive in the 2016 municipal elections. The new chosen name, "Citizens for Italy", would be used only in local elections, indeed.

In January 2016, during a cabinets reshuffle, Zanetti was promoted deputy minister of the Economy, while another SC deputy, Antimo Cesaro, was appointed undersecretary at Culture. Despite this, the party, which had virtually disappeared from opinion polls, continued to lose deputies and its group in the Chamber was reduced to 20 individuals by February. In the meantime, Zanetti explained that there were similarities between SC and Denis Verdinis Liberal Popular Alliance ALA, and, according to Corriere della Sera, the two groups could soon merge. In the meantime, SC formed a federative pact with the Moderates.

In July, after that the majority of the partys deputies had come in opposition of an alliance with the ALA a party basically formed by splinters form Berlusconis FI, Zanetti led four deputies out of the parliamentary group. Contextually, Zanetti, who pretended to be still the leader of SC, started to organise a joint group with the ALA and, possibly, Flavio Tosis Act!, and a new liberal party with the contribution of Marcello Pera, a former President of the Senate and former leader of FI in Tuscany. The partys national board sided with Zanetti in July and the national assembly did the same in October, with 63 votes in favour and 39 against.

This caused the final split of the party and the formation of two different parliamentary groups:

  • "Civic Choice toward Cizitens for Italy – MAIE" the official SC group, formed by eight deputies of the ALA, five of SC, two of the Associative Movement Italians Abroad MAIE and one splinter from Act!; the group was renamed "Civic Choice – ALA for the Liberal and Popular Constituent Assembly – MAIE" in December 2016;
  • Civics and Innovators, formed by the rump of the former SC group Giovanni Monchiero stayed as group leader.


                                     

1.7. History Road toward the centre-right

In April 2017 Rabino was elected president of the party.

In September 2017 Zanetti re-positioned SC from the centre-left to the centre-right and, more specifically, in close alliance with Berlusconis FI. The 2017 Sicilian regional election, for which SC announced that its candidates would run within FIs lists, marked the first time that SC officially sided with the centre-right. In November, the partys national board endorsed Zanettis political line and marked SCs official adhesion to the centre-right coalition. The decision was opposed by a vocal minority of the partys membership and three deputies Ernesto Auci, DAgostino and Vezzali subsequently left and formed the European Civics.

In December 2017 SC was a founding member of Us with Italy NcI, a pro-Berlusconi centrist electoral list within the centre-right coalition for the 2018 general election, along with Act!, splinters of Popular Alternative AP – two groups, a liberal one led by Enrico Costa and a Christian-democratic one led by Maurizio Lupi, Direction Italy DI, Popular Construction CP and the Movement for the Autonomies MpA. NcI was later enlarged to the UdC and Identity and Action IdeA, with the goal of reaching 3%, required to win seats from proportional lists under a new electoral law.

In the election NcI obtained 1.3% and SC had no deputies or senators elected. After that, the party was de facto disbanded.



                                     

2. Leadership

  • Spokesperson: Lelio Alfonso 2013–2015, Benedetto Della Vedova 2013–2015
  • Vice President: Carlo Calenda 2013, Ilaria Capua 2013, Maria Paola Merloni 2013, Milena Santerini 2013, Luciano Cimmino 2013–2015, Ilaria Borletti Buitoni 2013–2015, Valentina Vezzali 2015–2017
  • Party Leader in the Chamber of Deputies: Lorenzo Dellai 2013, Andrea Romano 2013–2014, Andrea Mazziotti 2014–2015, Giovanni Monchiero 2015–2016, Giulio Sottanelli 2016–present
  • Executive Secretary: Silvia Colombo 2013–2015
  • Party Leader in the Senate: Mario Mauro 2013, Gianluca Susta 2013, Lucio Romano 2013, Gianluca Susta 2013–2015
  • Organizational Secretary: Andrea Causin 2013–2014, Mariano Rabino 2014–2017
  • First Vice President: Andrea Riccardi 2013, Alberto Bombassei 2013, Renato Balduzzi 2013–2014, Angelo DAgostino 2015–2017
  • Coordinator / Secretary: Andrea Olivero 2013, Stefania Giannini 2013–2014, Enrico Zanetti 2015–2017
  • President: Andrea Riccardi 2013, Mario Monti 2013, Alberto Bombassei 2013–2014, Renato Balduzzi 2014, Salvatore Matarrese 2015–2016, Mariano Rabino 2017