Italian Liberal Party (PLI)
Moderately conservative political party that dominated Italian politics in the decades after unification (1861) and was a minor party after World War II. It was formed as a parliamentary group in 1848 by Camillo Benso, count di Cavour; his followers favoured a centralized government, restricted suffrage, regressive taxation, and free trade. Left Liberals gained control of the party in 1876. Its strength declined after World War I, but beginning in 1944 it was a minor partner in most Christian Democratic coalition governments. Drawing its chief support from small businessmen, it favoured free enterprise; it also backed Italy's involvement in NATO. It was caught up in various corruption scandals after 1992 and was dissolved in the mid 1990s. Most former Liberals joined the centre-right Forza Italia party of Silvio Berlusconi.
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