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Christian Democracy (Italy)
Christian Democracy, (Democrazia Cristiana), the Christian democratic party of Italy, commonly called the democristiani or "DC", dominated government for nearly half a century until its demise amid a welter of corruption allegations in 1992-94.
The party was in part a revival of the Partito Popolare created in 1919 by the priest Don Luigi Sturzo but declared illegal by the Fascist regime in 1925 despite the presence of some members in Benito Mussolini's first government.
As Fascism's ruin approached in the latter years of World War II, the Christian Democrats started organising post-Fascist Italy in certain competition but also for a time in coalition with the parties of the center and left. Breaking decisively with its former Communist coalition partners in May 1947, the party went on to win its greatest election victory in April 1948 with the support of the Church and the United States.
From 1948 until the 1992, DC was the largest party in parliament, governing in successive coalitions with the smaller Liberal, Republican and Social Democratic parties and, after the 1963, with the Socialist Party. Basing its electoral majority largely on the Catholic countryside, the party moved over time from its reformist origins to a more conservative role. A short-lived DC government (1960) relying on parliamentary support from the Italian Social Movement, considered Fascism's ideological heir, was disowned by the party following widespread opposition. Later in the 60s, the increased political influence of the left wing factions, led by Amintore Fanfani, moved the party to a center-left strategy based on the coalition with the Socialist Party.
Party life came to be characterised according to adherence to respective correnti or factions, each identified with individual leaders. Among the leaders who built DC, notable names include those of Alcide De Gasperi, Antonio Segni, Amintore Fanfani, Giulio Andreotti, Aldo Moro and Francesco Cossiga. Many DC members were attacked in the 1970s, and in some cases murdered, by terrorists (i.e., Red Brigades). The abduction and murder of Aldo Moro in 1978 removed one of the party's most highly-regarded leaders.
Having ruled the nation for over 40 years, many DC members in time have been involved in smaller or greater scandals. In the 1960s a deputee was indirectly involved in the so-called Montesi scandal (a girl killed after a drug party), and the same chief of the state Giovanni Leone was forced to resign after the scandal of Lockheed aeroplanes. The P2 scandal caused the premier Arnaldo Forlani to resign because he had delayed the publication of the list of adherents. The minister of Public Health Carlo Donat-Cattin was supposedly helped by the minister of Internal Affairs, Francesco Cossiga, to let his son Marco escape from police while wanted as a terrorist (Prima Linea). But the party came under unprecedented attack in 1992 when a team of Milan magistrates dubbed the "clean hands" (mani pulite) started investigating corruption at its highest levels, instigating many spectacular and sometimes controversial arrests and resignations. After two years of mounting scandal and secessions, the party disbanded in 1994.
The party's ideological sources are principally to be found in democratic and social Catholic doctrines of the 19th century (see Christian democracy), developed in France by Buchez , Lamennais and Le Play , and in Italy by Giuseppe Toniolo and Romolo Murri ; in addition, the movement gained limited elements from liberal and social democratic influences.
Of particular influence were the two Papal encyclicals Rerum novarum (1891) of Pope Leo XIII, and Quadragesimo anno (1931) of Pope Pius XI, which were offered a basis for social and political doctrine; in economy DC opposed the concept of cooperation to competition, and rejected Marxism's idea of conflict among social classes.
The so-called "leftist wing" of DC, born with Dossetti, Giorgio La Pira , and Lazzati (represented by the magazine Cronache Sociali) advocated dialogue with leftist parties and gave birth to the concept of centrosinistra (center-left), proposing governments with minority socialist participation.
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