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Keywords:

  • political parties;
  • personal party;
  • party organisation;
  • Italian politics;
  • Silvio Berlusconi

Despite the electoral success of Silvio Berlusconi's two political parties, little theoretical and empirical work has been done on Forza Italia (FI) and the Popolo Della Libertà (PDL – People of Freedom). This article aims to fill these gaps. Following a short overview of the history of FI and the PDL, it discusses how scholars have conceived of Forza Italia. Building on the criteria of Joseph LaPalombara and Myron Weiner for the definition of a political party, a first operational definition is then offered of the term most used to classify FI and the PDL: the ‘personal party’. On the basis of this, the article considers whether the PDL is another personal party akin to Forza Italia. This is done, first, by briefly considering the party statute and communications and, second, by examining the views expressed in interviews conducted across Italy with PDL elected representatives and ordinary party members.