Partito d’Azione


Partito d’Azione
Action Party (PdA)
   The PdA was founded in May 1942 by a diverse group of radicals, liberals, libertarians, and socialists. Many former members of Giustizia e Liberta joined the ranks of the new formation, as did some liberal communists. From the beginning, the party was gravely divided internally over points of political principle. It did have three main areas of common ground, however: It was antifascist, opposed to the bureaucratic and totalitarian form of communism practiced in the Soviet Union, and violently antimonarchical. Unlike the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI), the PdA refused to join the wartime governments set up in Allied-occupied territory by Pietro Badoglio and Ivanoe Bonomi in the latter stages of the war. Instead the PdA, via its military arm, the “Justice and Liberty Brigade,” threw itself into the partisan struggle and bore a disproportionate share of the fighting against the Germans and their Fascist allies. In all, the PdAcontributed over 30,000 partisans, perhaps a fifth or a quarter of those active in the partisan struggle, and they suffered heavy casualties: More than 4,000 were killed in action. Only the PCI made a greater contribution to the domestic Italian war against Nazism. When the war was over, the PdA’s commander in northern Italy, Ferruccio Parri, was made prime minister. It was said that this would bring a “wind from the North” for radical social change, but the PdAwas the smallest and least well-organized party in the postwar coalition, was disliked by both the PCI and the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy (DC), and was soon shunted out of office. The PdAdid not even manage to arrive at the elections for the 1946 Constituent Assembly as a united force: In February 1946, at the movement’s first real congress, Parri and Ugo La Malfa, the party’s right wing, left the party. In the elections of 1946, the party made a miserable showing and gradually fizzled out. Why, therefore, regard the PdA as an important political movement? The answer is that it acted as a bridge that enabled the liberalsocialist ideas of the early antifascist resistance to be transmitted into the main postwar political parties. Every major party except the DC, including the PCI, was in some way influenced by the PdA, and it is widely agreed that former azionisti have an importance in Italy’s intellectual and political development out of all proportion to their numbers.
   See also Resistance.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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