Abstract and Keywords
Early Italian liberalism, deeply interlinked with the Risorgimento, had a particularly interventionist streak: elite and state had the duty to prepare the country for liberty. The liberal elite effectively occupied the state, profoundly marking Italy’s development. With the rise of socialism and political Catholicism and the Great War, both liberalism and the political system it underpinned were weakened. After the Fascist regime, the Liberal Party played a key role in rebuilding the country, steering its economic reconstruction. But the Party was in a difficult position: while the Christian Democracy occupied the political center, it shifted between the right and center left of the political arena. Post-war liberalism cannot be reduced to the Liberal party: Republicans and Radicals also had liberal influences. Moreover, liberalism as an intellectual force affected society beyond the political sphere. Berlusconi’s rise marks the latest instance of the enduring contraposition between the conservative and progressive variants of liberalism.
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