- Alarmed by the prospect of a victory of the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI) in the elections of October 1913 (which were both the first elections held with universal male suffrage and the first in which the Church allowed openly Catholic candidates to run), the president of the Unione Elettorale Cattolica (The Catholic Electoral Union), Count Vincenzo Ottorino Gentiloni, devised an electoral arrangement to maximize Catholic influence. Liberal candidates who promised to support Catholic schools and religious instruction in the public schools, would oppose the introduction of divorce, and agreed to several other key issues for “confessional” voters were offered the backing of the network of Catholic social organizations and parish clergy. The strategy was a striking success. Nearly 30 Catholic candidates were elected, and Gentiloni claimed that over 200 liberal candidates owed their victories to Catholic votes. Only 79 socialists of different denominations were elected, and the Osservatore Romano argued that “the party of subversion” would have won at least a hundred more deputies had the Church not intervened. Many embarrassed liberal deputies later denied having reached an explicit accord with Gentiloni. Whatever the truth of their denials, the Gentiloni pact signaled that the Church was the only institution with sufficient nationwide organization to contest the growing strength of the workers’movement. For better or worse, the Church had reentered Italian politics.
Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. Mark F. Gilbert & K. Robert Nilsson. 2007.
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