Italian general election, 1946

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Italian general election, 1946

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All 556 seats to the Italian Constituent Assembly
Turnout 89.1%
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Alcide de Gasperi 2.jpg Pietro Nenni 2.jpg Palmiro Togliatti Official.jpg
Leader Alcide De Gasperi Pietro Nenni Palmiro Togliatti
Party Christian Democracy Socialist Party Communist Party
Leader since 1944 1931 1938
Leader's seat VIII - Trentin Whole Italy Whole Italy
Seats won 207 115 104
Popular vote 8,101,004 4,758,129 4,356,686
Percentage 35.2% 20.7% 18.9%

Legislative election results map. Light Blue denotes provinces with a Christian Democratic plurality, Red denotes those with a Communist plurality, Salmon denotes those with a Socialist plurality.

Prime Minister before election

Alcide De Gasperi
Christian Democracy

New Prime Minister

Alcide De Gasperi
Christian Democracy

General elections were held in Italy on Sunday June 2, 1946.[1] They were the first after World War II and elected 556 deputies to the Constituent Assembly. Theoretically, the deputies to be chosen were 573, but the election didn't take place in Julian March and in South Tyrol, which were under military occupation by the United Nations.

For the first time, Italian women were allowed to vote in a national election. Electors had two votes: one to elect the representatives, and one to choose the institutional form of the State.

Electoral system

To emphasize the restoration of democracy after the fascist era, a pure party-list proportional representation was chosen. Italian provinces were united in 31 constituencies, each electing a group of candidates.[2] At constituency level, seats were divided between open lists using the largest remainder method with the Imperiali quota. Remaining votes and seats were transferred at national level, where special closed lists of national leaders received the last seats using the Hare quota.

The race

At the end of World War II, Italy was governed under transitional laws as a result of agreements between the National Liberation Committee (CLN) and the royal Lieutenant General of the Realm Humbert II. No democratic elections having taken place for more than twenty years, legislative power was given to the government but, after the first election, the Italian Council of Ministers would have to receive a vote of confidence by the newly elected Constituent Assembly.

The three main contestants were: the Christian Democracy and the Socialist Party, which had received great results even before the fascist era, and the Communist Party, which had strengthened itself with the armed struggle against nazism and fascism during the war. The Italian Liberal Party, heir of the pre-fascist and conservative ruling class, proposed an alliance called National Democratic Union. Monarchists groups created a National Bloc of Freedom, while social liberal Action Party and Labour Democratic Party hoped to maximize positive image of the governments they ruled inside the National Liberation Committee.

Parties and leaders

Party Ideology Leader
Christian Democracy (DC) Christian democracy, Popularism Alcide De Gasperi
Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity (PSIUP) Socialism, Democratic socialism Pietro Nenni
Italian Communist Party (PCI) Communism, Marxism-Leninism Palmiro Togliatti
National Democratic Union (UDN) Liberalism, Conservatism Manlio Brosio
Common Man's Front (UQ) Populism, Conservatism Guglielmo Giannini
Italian Republican Party (PRI) Republicanism, Social liberalism Randolfo Pacciardi
National Bloc of Freedom (BNL) Conservatism, Monarchism Alfredo Covelli
Action Party (PdA) Republicanism, Liberal socialism Ferruccio Parri


The election gave a large majority to the government formed by the three leaders of the CLN, which were briefly joined by the Republican Party after the exile of Humbert II. The alliance lasted for a year.

Summary of the 2 June 1946 Constituent Assembly election results
Italian Parliament, 1946.svg
Party Votes % Seats
Christian Democracy 8,101,004 35.21 207
Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity 4,758,129 20.68 115
Italian Communist Party 4,356,686 18.93 104
National Democratic Union[3] 1,560,638 6.78 41
Common Man's Front 1,211,956 5.27 30
Italian Republican Party 1,003,007 4.36 23
National Bloc of Freedom 637,328 2.77 16
Action Party 334,748 1.45 7
Sicilian Independentist Movement 171,201 0.74 4
Party of Italian Peasants 102,393 0.44 1
Republican Democratic Concentration 97,690 0.42 2
Sardinian Action Party 78,554 0.34 2
Italian Unionist Movement 71,021 0.31 1
Social Christian Party 51,088 0.22 1
Labour Democratic Party 40,633 0.18 1
Republican Progressive Democratic Front
(PSI-PCI-PRI-PdA for Aosta Valley)
21,853 0.09 1
Others 412,550 1.79 0
Invalid/blank votes 1,936,708
Total 24,947,187 100.00 556
Registered voters/turnout 28,005,449 89.08

Source: Italian Ministry of Interior

Popular vote


Together with the election, a constitutional referendum took place. Italian electors had to choose if they wanted to continue the reign of Humbert II of Savoy or to turn Italy into a republic. While all regions of Northern Italy as far as Tuscany and Marches gave a majority to the republic, all regions of Southern Italy from Lazio and Abruzzo voted to maintain the monarchy.

Constitutional form of the Italian State vote  %
Republic Emblem of Italy.svg 12,718,641 54.3%
Monarchy Lesser coat of arms of the Kingdom of Italy (1890).svg 10,718,502 45.7%
Invalid ballots ☒.svg 1,509,735
Total 24,946,878 100%


  1. Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. The number of seats for each constituency had a range from 1 for Aosta Valley to 36 for Milan.
  3. The Labour Democratic Party ran within the banner of the National Democratic Union in most regions.