(II Partito Popolare Italiano; Popular Party), a political party of Italian Catholics that existed from 1919 to 1926. The Popolari sprang up at the time of a postwar revolutionary upsurge. It acted under the slogan of “Liberty and independence of the Church to carry out its ecclesiastical mission” and advocated a new delineation of relations between the Vatican and the Italian state. In foreign policy, it upheld a pacifist program, advocating universal disarmament. Its domestic policy centered on a program of such administrative and social reforms as limitation of the length of the workday, development of social insurance and of trade unions, the defense of small property, and the granting of woman suffrage.
The Popolari based themselves on organizations of Catholic workers, including trade unions and cooperatives. In the parliamentary elections of 1919 and 1921, it achieved considerable success, receiving 20.5 percent of the vote and winning 99 and 108 seats, respectively. The party’s mass base was provided by the peasantry, but it was also supported by petit bourgeois urban strata (artisans, clerical and professional employees) and the lower clergy. Conservative and clerical elements associated with powerful capitalist groups (the Bank of Rome and others) also enjoyed significant influence in the party.
The leaders of the Popolari did not actively oppose the Fascist coup in 1922, and some party figures joined Mussolini’s government. However, as early as April 1923, the party revised its line under pressure from the left, and in the 1924 parliamentary elections it came out as a party opposed to the Fascist regime. In June 1924 it joined the anti-Fascist A ventine Bloc. After the bloc fell apart, the Popolari did not take any further part in the anti-Fascist struggle. Some of its leaders, including L. Sturzo, F. L. Ferrari, G. Donati, and G. Miglioli, emigrated or restricted their activities to the field of culture. After the Fascist authorities banned all parties (except the Fascist party) in November 1926, the Popolari ceased to exist. The political secretaries of the Popolari were L. Sturzo (1919–23) and A. De Gasperi (1924—25). The official press organs were Popolo nuovo, and, from April 1923 to November 1925, Il Popolo.
REFERENCESDodolev, M. A. “Narodnaia partiia i ustanovlenie fashistskogo rezhima ν Italii.” In Problemy ital’ianskoi istorii, fasc. 1. Moscow, 1972.
Candeloro, G. Katolicheskoe dvizhenie ν Italii. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from Italian.)
M. A. DODOLEV