1867 Italian general election

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1867 Italian general election

← 1865 10 and 17 March 1867 1870 →

All 493 seats to the Italian Chamber of Deputies
  Majority party Minority party
  160x160px Bettino Ricasoli 2.jpg
Leader Urbano Rattazzi Bettino Ricasoli
Party Historical Left Historical Right
Leader's seat Alessandria Florence
Seats won 225 151
Seat change Increase69 Decrease32
Popular vote 126,202 84,685
Percentage 45.6% 30.6%

Prime Minister before election

Bettino Ricasoli
Historical Right

Elected Prime Minister

Urbano Rattazzi
Historical Left

Bettino Ricasoli resigned as Prime Minister of Italy on 10 March 1867, due to a disagreement with Italian Chamber. The chamber disapproved of his agreements with the Vatican regarding the repatriation of certain religious properties. Subsequent to his resignation, general elections were held in Italy on 10 March 1867; with the second round of voting on 17 March 1867.[1] These snap elections resulted in Urbano Rattazzi being elected once again to office.[2]

Due to the restrictive Italian electoral laws of the time, only 504,265 Italian men, out of a total population of around 26 million, were entitled to vote. The voters were largely aristocrats, rentiers, and capitalists, who tended to hold moderate political views, including loyalty to the crown and low government spending.[3]

Electoral campaign

The opposition to Ricasoli was mainly organized by former Prime Minister Rattazzi, a moderate member of the Historical Left, who had entered into a coalition with the Historical Right in Piedmont fifteen years earlier. Even though Italian elections were officially non-partisan, the political conflict was so evident that the election became a match between these two political heavyweights.[4]

The 1867 election was a great defeat for Ricasoli, who thereafter retired to private life. However, while Ricasoli lost, Rattazzi did not receive a clear mandate, especially during the second part of the traditional two-round system. Many Independent candidates, who were ready to support any government that would support their local interests, were lukewarm supporters at best. Ultimately, Rattazzi was charged by the king to form a new government, but the fickle leftist faction abandoned him, forcing Rattazzi to form a new coalition.[5] This was typical of Italian politics of the day, which were officially non-partisan with no structured parties. Voters instead were influenced more by localism and corruption, rather than loyalty to any leader or party.[6]

Rattazzi tried to form a centrist government consisting of his centre-left moderate faction, some Independents, and the Historical Right. These groups agreed to the coalition in order to later regain control. However, despite his efforts, Rattazzi's victory was ephemeral, similar to his first term as Prime Minister in 1862: barely six months later he was unable to stop an armed attack by a national hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi, upon the Papal State. The King, seeing that Rattazzi was ineffective, quickly forced his resignation. Senator Luigi Federico Menabrea then took over as Prime Minister, with the Historical Right regaining full control of the government.[7]

Parties and leaders

Party Ideology Leader
Historical Left Liberalism Urbano Rattazzi
Historical Right Conservatism Bettino Ricasoli


Summary of March 1867 Chamber of Deputies election results
Italian Parliament 1867.svg
Party Votes % Seats +/−
Historical Left 126,202[lower-alpha 1] 45.6 225 +69
Historical Right 84,685[lower-alpha 1] 30.6 151 −32
Independents 65,636[lower-alpha 1] 23.8 74
Invalid seats[8] 43
Total 276,523 100 493 +50
Registered voters/turnout 504,265 54.8
Source: "La Stampa", Tuesday, 19 March 1867. [1]
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Estimate
Parliamentary seats
Historical Left
Historical Right


  1. Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. La Stampa, Sunday, 10 March 1867.
  3. Nohlen & Stöver, p1028
  4. La Stampa, Saturday, 23 March 1867.
  5. La Stampa, Friday, 12 April 1867.
  6. La Stampa, Saturday, 13 April 1867.
  7. "Federico Menabrea" in Encyclopædia Britannica.
  8. The electoral law did not limit the number of constituencies where a candidate could stand, so many political leaders run and won in two or more constituencies, which consequently needed by-elections to fill their seats.