- As in most other European countries, concern about the quality of the environment began to emerge in Italy in the 1970s and early 1980s. Overbuilding in Italian coastal resorts, increasing pollution in lakes and rivers, the growing problem of smog in the cities, the nascent nuclear program, and a leak in 1976 of dioxin at a chemical plant at Seveso near Milan all contributed to an increased interest in environmental issues. Following the success of the German Green Party in the 1983 elections to the Bundestag, local Green associations successfully fielded lists of candidates in the two provinces closest to Germany, Trento and Bolzano, in 1983. In local elections held nationwide in 1985, local Green associations ran candidates in communal and provincial elections all over the country. To capitalize on this upsurge in interest, the “National Federation of Green Lists” was founded in November 1986, and in the 1987 general elections, the federation’s symbol was on the ballot paper throughout the country. The federation won 2.5 percent of the vote and elected 13 deputies and two senators. In the fall of 1987, the Greens enjoyed a further triumph when Italians, alarmed by the Chernobyl disaster, voted in a national referendum to end Italy’s nuclear power program.The formation of a rival force, the Verdi arcobaleno (“Rainbow Greens”), which appealed to Greens worried that the environmentalist movement was fossilizing into a traditional political party, did not slow the growth of Green sympathies among the electorate. In the European elections in June 1989, the two lists together obtained over 6 percent of the vote, the apex of Green support in Italy. Although the two rival movements merged in 1990, the Verdi have struggled to maintain electoral support in the changed economic climate of the 1990s. Only 2.8 percent of the electorate voted for Green candidates in the general elections of 1992, a figure that was approximated in the two subsequent electoral tests. In April 1993, the former European commissioner for the environment, Carlo Ripa Di Meana, was appointed national spokesman for the Greens, and until December 1996, when he was deposed as party leader, he represented environmentalists within the Olive Tree Coalition/Ulivo. In recent years, the Greens have also made antiwar protest the core of their political platform, opposing, for instance, both the first and second Gulf wars, and in the 2006 elections they formed a common list with the Comunisti d’Italia/Communists of Italy (PdCI). Unless there is another nuclear or industrial calamity, the Verdi seem destined to remain marginal in Italian political life. Green sentiment, however, has become deeply rooted in Italy. Other singleissue organizations such as the Lega Ambiente (Environmental League), Greenpeace, and the Antivivisection League all have substantial active memberships.
Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. Mark F. Gilbert & K. Robert Nilsson. 2007.
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