|Founded||3 December 2017|
|Chamber of Deputies|
Free and Equal (Italian: Liberi e Uguali, LeU) is a left-wing parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies and a sub-group in the Senate, the two houses of the Italian Parliament. LeU was launched on 3 December 2017 as a federation of political parties including Article 1, Italian Left and Possible. The leader of the alliance for the 2018 general election was Pietro Grasso, former President of the Senate and former anti-Mafia prosecutor. The three founding parties left the alliance in late 2018, but LeU continued to exist in Parliament. Following the 2021 Italian government crisis, LeU has a single minister in the national unity government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Since the 2013 leadership election of the Democratic Party (PD) in which Matteo Renzi (a centrist) was elected secretary, the party was riven by an internal struggle between Renzi's large majority (composed of renziani, assorted centrists and moderate social democrats) and the left-wing factions which were very critical of Renzi, his government (2014-2016) and his proposed constitutional reform, which was finally voted down in a constitutional referendum in December 2016.
After the splits of Possible (Pos) and Future to the Left (FaS), Enrico Rossi (leader of the Democratic Socialists faction and President of Tuscany) and Roberto Speranza (leader of Reformist Area and former PD leader in the Chamber of Deputies) became the leaders of the PD's internal left. They were backed by former DS and PD leaders Massimo D'Alema, Pier Luigi Bersani and Guglielmo Epifani. Rossi and Speranza criticised Renzi on many of his policies and were initially joined by Michele Emiliano, President of Apulia. In February 2017, the dissidents (except Emiliano, who stayed in the PD and would unsuccessfully challenge Renzi in the upcoming 2017 leadership election), and a group of SI splinters led by Arturo Scotto (a former DS member too) launched the Article 1 - Democratic and Progressive Movement (MDP), a month after the merger of Left Ecology Freedom (SEL), FaS and minor groups into Italian Left (SI).
Soon after the foundation of the MDP, Roberto Speranza (MDP coordinator), Nicola Fratoianni (SI secretary) and Giuseppe Civati (Pos secretary) discussed the opportunity of forming a left-wing coalition as an alternative to the centre-left led by the PD, the centre-right and the Five Star Movement (M5S).
In the 2017 Sicilian regional election, the three left-wing parties, along with the Communist Refoundation Party, other parties and groups, ran in a joint list named One Hundred Steps for Sicily with Claudio Fava for President. Fava won 6.2% of the vote, the list 5.2% and only Fava was elected deputy in the Regional Assembly.
During a convention in Rome on 3 December 2017, the MDP-SI-Pos alliance was officially established as Free and Equal (LeU) and Pietro Grasso, President of the Senate and former anti-Mafia prosecutor, was appointed leader and candidate for Prime Minister in the 2018 general election. A few weeks later, also Laura Boldrini, President of the Chamber of Deputies (who had been elected as an independent of SEL in 2013), joined LeU. Another high-profile adherent was Rossella Muroni, who had been the president of Legambiente up to then. In January, LeU was joined also by the Greens of South Tyrol.
In January 2018, shortly before the election, some internal conflict started, with Grasso accused to be uncharismatic and uninfluential on alliance politics.
In May, LeU launched a constituent assembly in Rome with the participation of the MDP, SI and Possible, which agreed on the creation of a party with a single structure and an internal voting system on political issues. In June, the national committee of LeU fixed the founding congress for December. The following day, Beatrice Brignone, who had replaced Civati as secretary of Possible, announced the departure of her party from the alliance.
More internal conflicts broke out between the two remaining parties (MDP and SI) during the summer, especially about political affiliations for the upcoming 2019 European Parliament election and possible alliance with the PD. Between October and December, LeU was successively abandoned by SI and the MDP (focused on the formation of a new "red-green" party) as well as by high-profile members like Boldrini and Muroni.
In January 2019 SI returned into LeU's fold and joined forces with LeU individual members, led by Francesco Laforgia and deputy Luca Pastorino (dissident members of MDP and Possible, respectively), who had formed an association named #Per i molti (For the many), which was later transformed into ÈViva party. In April the two groups, along with the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) and minor parties, formed The Left, a joint list inspired by the Party of the European Left (PEL). Contextually, the MDP, which was renamed simply "Article One" (Art.1), decided to run with the PD, while Possible joined the FdV-led Green Europe (EV).
In August 2019 tensions grew within the coalition supporting the Giuseppe Conte's first government, leading to the issuing of a motion of no-confidence by the League. During the following government crisis, the national board of the PD officially opened to the possibility of forming a new cabinet in a coalition with the M5S, based on pro-Europeanism, green economy, sustainable development, fight against economic inequality and a new immigration policy. The party also accepted that Conte might continue at the head of a new government, and on 29 August President Mattarella formally invested Conte to do so. The LeU groups had previously already announced their possible support to Conte's second government, which was finally unveiled in September with the appointment of Speranza as Minister of Health.
Following Conte's resignation in January 2021 and the resulting government crisis, LeU joined Mario Draghi's national unity government, with Speranza keeping his ministerial role. The new government provoked shifts within the group. Italian Left chose not to support Draghi, was deserted by one deputy (Erasmo Palazzotto, who voted in favour and left the party) and one senator (Loredana De Petris, who voted in favour, but remained a member) and was joined by two formerly independent senators (Paola Nugnes, who had been elected with the Five Star Movement (M5S) and later alighed with the Communist Refoundation Party) and Elena Fattori (another former Five Star). Additionally, Rossella Muroni (Green Italy) left the group in order to establish a sub-group of the Federation of the Greens within the Mixed Group instead. In July Devis Dori, another splinter from the M5S, joined LeU in the Chamber.
|Democratic and Progressive Movement (MDP)||Social democracy||Roberto Speranza|
|Italian Left (SI)||Democratic socialism||Nicola Fratoianni|
|Possible (Pos)||Progressivism||Giuseppe Civati|
|Greens of South Tyrol (VGV)||Green politics||Brigitte Foppa and Hans Heiss|
|Sicilian Socialist Party (PSS)||Democratic socialism||Antonio Matasso|
|Party||Main ideology||Deputies||Senators||Total MPs|
|Article One (Art.1)||Social democracy||6||1||7|
|Italian Left (SI)||Democratic socialism||1||3||4|
|Fatherland and Constitution (PeC)||Left-wing nationalism||1||0||1|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|Senate of the Republic|
|Friuli-Venezia Giulia||2018||11,748 (10th)||2.78|
|South Tyrol||2018||19,391 (4th)[b]||6.86|