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Party logo in 2002


The Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (Unione dei Democratici Cristiani e di Centro, UDC) is a Christian-democratic political party in Italy. It is formally led by Lorenzo Cesa, although its most popular figure and practical leader is Pier Ferdinando Casini.

UDC is a member of the European People's Party (EPP) and of the Centrist Democrat International (CDI), of which Casini is currently President. The party, who was part of the Pole/House of Freedoms from 1994 to 2008, is affiliated neither to the centre-right nor the centre-left at the national level and currently stands in opposition to Berlusconi IV Cabinet.

Despite this UDC takes part with The People of Freedom, the new united party of the centre-right, to several regional, provincial and municipal governments (notably in Lombardy and Veneto), but has recently formed also alliances with the centre-left Democratic Party at the local level.

History

Foundation and early years

The party was founded in 2002 by the merger of three parties: the Christian Democratic Centre (CCD, led by Pier Ferdinando Casini from 1994 to 2001 and then by Marco Follini), the United Christian Democrats (CDU, a 1995 split of the Italian People's Party led by Rocco Buttiglione) and European Democracy (DE, launched by Sergio D'Antoni in 2000). Follini and Buttiglione became respectively national secretary and president of the new party.

In the 2004 European Parliament election UDC had the chance to show its electoral weight for the first time. Winning 5.9% of the vote and returning 5 MEPs, the result was better than predicted. In the 2001 Italian general election the three precursors of UDC had scored 5.6% (sum of 3.2%, combined result of CCD and CDU, and 2.4%, result of DE). Since then UDC was the third largest party in the House of Freedoms, surpassing Lega Nord. Follini became Vice-President of the Council of Ministers in Berlusconi's government with the goal of strengthening the government while diminishing the influence of Lega Nord in the executive.

In the 2005 regional elections UDC and the House of Freedoms faced a severe defeat by winning only 2 regions out of 14. Follini asked Silvio Berlusconi to resign and form a new government. In the new executive Buttiglione became minister with portfolio but Follini declined the post of Vice-President of the Council in order to dedicate himself to the party.

On 15 October 2005 Follini suddenly resigned as secretary and was replaced on 27 October by Lorenzo Cesa.

The party took part in the 2006 general election with a new logo, characterized by the inclusion of the name of Casini, by far the most prominent member of UDC. Casini himself was topped party lists in most electoral constituencies. Despite the defeat of the House of Freedoms, UDC improved its electoral performance gaining 6.8% of the vote.

From Berlusconi to the "centre"

In October 2006 Follini, a harsh critic of Berlusconi, finally left the party to form a new grouping, called Middle-of-the-Road Italy, which merged into the centre-left Democratic Party one year later. This was the fourth split suffered by UDC in two years after three much bigger scissions led by Sergio D'Antoni, who joined Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy in 2004, Gianfranco Rotondi who launched the Christian Democracy for the Autonomies in 2005, and Raffaele Lombardo who formed the Sicilian-based Movement for Autonomy later on that year.

After the departure of Follini, however, Casini became highly critical of Berlusconi and further distanced UDC from him. A fifth major split happened at the end of January 2008 when Bruno Tabacci and Mario Baccini left the party because Casini seemed eager to re-join Berlusconi in the upcoming election, after that Prodi II Cabinet did not pass through a vote of confidence. Shortly after, anyway, when Casini refused to merge his party into Berlusconi's new political creature, The People of Freedom (PdL), UDC was joined by the White Rose of Tabacci, Baccini and Savino Pezzotta, as well as by two leading members of Forza Italia, Ferdinando Adornato and Angelo Sanza. On the other side, UDC was left by those who wanted to continue the alliance with Berlusconi: Carlo Giovanardi and his Liberal Popular faction joined the PdL, citing that the 72% of UDC voters wanted to do so. They were soon followed by many others.

In the 2008 general election UDC fought under the banner of the Union of the Centre (UdC), that included the White Rose and other smaller groups. Despite having lost many votes to its right, UDC was able to woo some new voters from the centre-left and gained a 5.6% of the vote. As of today UDC/UdC is headed to the formation of a new and larger "centrist" party by 2010, the "party of the nation" in the words of Casini. In the forthcoming regional elections of March 2010 UDC/UdC, while not joining any of the two major coalitions at the national level, will make alliances either with the centre-right or the centre-left (or stand alone) in the different regions, depending on local conditions.

Ideology

Although it is the most vocal supporter of social conservatism in Italy (opposition to abortion, gay rights and euthanasia are some of its main concerns) and can be easily connected with the Christian right, UDC is usually identified with the political centre in Italy, thanks to its Christian Democratic roots.

However The Economist once describesd it as a right-wing, sometimes reactionary party, which "stretches a long way from the centre". Moreover, it wrote that many UDC members are "diehard corporatists who [...] get most of their votes from the south, where many households depend either on welfare or on public-sector employment". Indeed the party is stronger in the South and especially in Sicily, where public-sector employment is widely spread.

UDC was an independent-minded and often reluctant member of the House of Freedoms coalition from 2002 to 2006. The party's leading figure, Pier Ferdinando Casini, is critical of the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi over the Italian centre-right and presents himself as a moderate alternative to populism, which, in his view, denotes the alliance between The People of Freedom (PdL) and Lega Nord. UDC's main goal, similarly to that of the Democratic Movement in Francemarker, is to form a government beyond the left-right divide. The dream of reassembling the remnants of the old Christian Democracy (DC) party and to control Italian politics from the centre is a longstanding one. In this respect Casini and his followers are trying to form the nucleus of a third force in Italian politics, hoping to enlist someday centrist members of the Democratic Party (PD), especially those coming from Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy (DL), a centre-left outfit, in which many former Christian Democrats are gathered.

It is difficult to say how much chances of success this "centrist option" has; indeed there are at least three problems with it. First, UDC is a much lighter force compared to Berlusconi's party, which draws much support from former Christian Democratic voters. Second, Italians like confrontational politics based on two alternative coalitions and many would support a two-party system, in place of the typically Italian fragmented political spectrum. Third, it is difficult to unite progressives from the PD with conservative UDC, and history does not always repeat itself: many political scientists think that the return of Christian Democracy is all but likely as political unity of Catholics (the core idea on which DC was based) is not repeatable because it will be anti-historical trying to unite again free-market liberals and economic interventionists, social-conservatives and social-liberals, into a single party.

It is true that DL had many conservative Catholics in its ranks but their position is mostly social-democratic on other political issues. UDC is likely to attract some of them but until it can draw huge support from PdL voters its chances of growth are very few. Although Casini and his followers are keen on presenting themselves as moderates, their staunchly social-conservative stance harm their prospects, as the PdL is popular also among secularized middle-class voters and has much more clout in the country than UDC. Casini knows that and, through the Union of the Centre, is trying to open his party to all the "centrists", the "Christian democrats", the "liberals" and the "reformers".

On the other issues, it is remarkable that UDC and its leader Casini are the main supporters of nuclear energy in the Italian political arena.

Factions

At the last national congress in 2007 there were basically four factions within the party.

The three main schisms suffered by the party between 2004 and 2006, Middle-of-the-Road Italy (IdM), Movement for Autonomy (MpA) and Christian Democracy for the Autonomies (DCA), were led by the most vocal supporters of each of the last three factions mentioned above, respectively Marco Follini, Raffaele Lombardo and Gianfranco Rotondi.

Popular support

UDC is historically stronger in the South than in other part of the country.

In the 2008 general election the party won 9.4% in Sicily, 8.2% in Calabria and 7.9% in Apuliamarker, while 3.8% in Liguria, 4.3% in Lombardy and 5.2% in Piedmont. In the North the party is better placed in the North-East: 5.6% in Veneto and 6.0% in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Electoral results

The electoral results of UDC in the 10 most populated Regions of Italy are shown in the table below. As UDC was founded in 2002, the electoral results from 1994 to 2001 refer to the combined result of the precursor parties.

The Christian Democratic Centre (CCD) and the United Christian Democrats (CDU) formed joint-lists with Forza Italia respectively in 1994 (general) and 1995 (regional). The results of 1995 (regional) refer to CCD alone, those of 1996 (general) to the CCD-CDU joint-list, those of 1996 (Sicilian regional), 1999 (European) and 2000 (regional) to the combined result of CCD and CDU, those of 2001 (general) to the combined result of the CCD-CDU joint-list and of European Democracy (DE), which formed a separate list, that of 2001 (Sicilian regional) to the combined results of CCD, CDU and DE.

Since 2004 (European) the results refer to UDC. The 2006 (Sicilian regional) refers to the combined result of UDC (13.0) and of L'Aquilone–Lista del Presidente (5.7%), personal list of UDC regional leader Salvatore Cuffaro. The elected members of this list were all UDC members.

1994 general 1995 regional 1996 general 1999 European 2000 regional 2001 general 2004 European 2005 regional 2006 general 2008 general 2009 European
Piedmont with FI 3.0 4.4 3.3 4.5 3.5 5.0 4.6 6.2 5.2 6.1
Lombardy with FI 2.2 4.6 3.5 4.1 3.4 3.6 3.8 5.9 4.3 5.0
Veneto with FI 3.6 5.4 5.4 6.8 5.0 5.0 6.4 7.8 5.6 6.4
Emilia-Romagna with FI 4.8 4.8 2.7 3.7 3.4 2.8 3.9 5.8 4.3 4.7
Tuscany with FI 2.5 4.8 3.2 4.2 3.3 3.3 3.7 5.9 4.2 4.6
Lazio with FI 4.2 4.7 4.8 6.7 4.8 7.1 7.8 6.9 4.8 5.5
Campania with FI 9.7 8.0 6.8 8.5 7.5 7.0 6.7 6.8 6.5 8.7
Apulia with FI 5.6 7.6 6.0 6.2 6.8 8.1 7.8 7.8 7.9 9.1
Calabria with FI 9.0 9.0 9.4 13.3 9.5 9.6 10.4 7.7 8.2 9.3
Sicily with FI 19.0 (1996) 8.1 7.9 24.3 (2001) 14.4 14.0 18.7 (2006) 10.0 9.4 11.9
ITALY - - 5.8 4.8 - 5.6 5.9 - 6.8 5.6 6.5


Leadership





References

  1. " Giovanardi lascia l'Udc per il Pdl". Corriere della Sera. 2008-02-04.
  2. " Elezioni: accordo tra Rosa Bianca e Udc". Corriere della Sera. 2008-02-08
  3. " L' Udc lancia la sua sfida «Accordi mirati con Pdl e Pd oppure andremo da soli»". Corriere della Sera. 2009-09-12.
  4. http://www.udc-italia.it/site_upload/articoli/3493d4cb677f6822f24baab79a8ae0ed.pdf
  5. " Prodi resurrected—for now". The Economist. 2007-03-01.
  6. " A plague on both your houses". The Economist. 2006-12-07.
  7. " Riprendiamo subito la strada del nucleare". Corriere della Sera. 2007-09-13.
  8. " Nel puzzle Udc si agita anche il Cdu". L'Indipendente. 2007-04-05.
  9. NoiPress.it 2007-04-12 19:31 – Congresso nazionale: la nota di Cuffaro ai delegati siciliani
  10. http://www.carlogiovanardi.it/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=300


External links





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