The party was founded in 2007–2008 by the merger of six minor social-democratic parties and associations: the Italian Democratic Socialists, Democracy and Socialism, The Italian Socialists, the Socialist Party–De Michelis, the Association for the Rose in the Fist and Socialism is Freedom. From its founding until 7 October 2009, the party was known as the Socialist Party (Partito Socialista, PS).
A merger of all the former social-democratic parties in Italy was initially proposed by Enrico Boselli during the congress of the Italian Democratic Socialists (SDI) in April 2007. In that occasion the party decided not to join the Democratic Party and asked other parties to join them in a "Socialist Constituent Assembly" (Costituente Socialista) aimed at creating a new social-democratic party inspired to the late Italian Socialist Party (PSI), which was disbanded in 1994 in the aftermath of the Tangentopoli scandals.
Some minor parties and associations, including The Italian Socialists of Bobo Craxi, Socialism is Freedom of Rino Formica and the Association for the Rose in the Fist of Lanfranco Turci immediately welcomed the proposal by Enrico Boselli. In June 2007 the New Italian Socialist Party (NPSI) split in two groups: the first, led by Stefano Caldoro, opted to stay within the House of Freedoms; the second, led by Gianni De Michelis, agreed to join the Constituent Assembly instead. The former retained the NPSI identity, while the latter formed the Socialist Party–De Michelis. At its foundation in October 2007 the PS was joined also by Democracy and Socialism, a group of former Democrats of the Left coming from Democratic Left.
In the 2008 general election the Socialist Party stood alone outside of any alliance with other parties with Boselli as candidate for Prime Minister. In the election, the Socialist Party gained less than 1% of the vote and failed to win any seats in the Italian Parliament.
Out of Parliament
In the first party congress, which took place on 4–6 July 2008, Riccardo Nencini was elected secretary, replacing Boselli, while Pia Elda Locatelli was elected president. In September Nencini, proposed a new "reformist axis" comprising the Democratic Party (PD), the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats (UDC) and the Socialists, while explaining that the Democrats needed to choose between the reformism of the PS and the populism of Italy of Values (IdV), with which the Socialists rejected any alliance for now at the national level.
In October 2008 Angius abandoned the PS and led his group into the PD, proposing that the whole party should do the same. In reply Nencini underlined that those leaving the party were not former members of the original PSI and that "no Socialists are leaving the PS" as Spini, the only former Socialist in the group, chose to stay in the PS. In fact, Gianni De Michelis also left the party.
For the 2009 European Parliament election the PS formed a joint electoral list named Left and Freedom (SL) with the Movement for the Left, the Federation of the Greens, the Democratic Left and Unite the Left. The list received just 3.1% of the national vote and failed to return any MEPs. Despite this, the national council of the PS chose to continue the experience of SL in order to build a "secular, libertarian and left-wing" political force which will join the PES, leading to the exit of Bobo Craxi, who launched the United Socialists in October. However, one month later, also the PS suddenly left SL because it refused to be merged into it and loose its identity. The party otherwise chose to support joint candidates with the PD and run its own lists in the forthcoming 2010 regional elections. Subsequently Craxi renewed his party membership.
In the 2010 regional elections the PSI elected a total of 15 regional councillors. The party had its best results in Apulia (9.7% with SEL and 4 councillors out of the 11 elected by SEL), Basilicata (4.6% and 1 councillor), Umbria (4.2% and 2 councillors), Campania (3.5% with SEL and 2 councillors out of 2) and Calabria (3.7%, just 0.3% short of the electoral threshold). In the July 2010 congress Nencini was re-elected secretary, but the party was divided between three political lines: the majority of Nencini supporting a "reformist" alliance with the PD, UDC and SEL (excluding IdV and PRC), the "autonomist" wing led by Craxi and the "frontist" wing in favour of a stronger co-operation with SEL.
Similarly to its precursor parties, the PSI has its strongholds in Southern Italy. In the 2008 general election it won 2.0% in Calabria (2.8% for the Senate), 2.8% in Basilicata, 1.6% in Apulia and a surprising 1.8% in Umbria.
- Secretary: Enrico Boselli (2007–2008), Riccardo Nencini (2008–present)
- President: Pia Elda Locatelli (2008–present)
- Agi News On - Elections: Socialist Party Lists For Upper And Lower Houses