The crisis of the Italian political system, which was particularly acute between 1989 and 1994, originated both in the context of major international changes and in the system itself, which was incapable of resolving the country's main economic, social and moral issues. Especially during the 1980s, the growing corruption of the political system led to an increased demand for morality and honesty in public action at the end of the decade. While some parties attempted to interpret these sentiments, others were overwhelmed by judicial investigations. The paper examines the cases of the Pds (born from the dissolution of the Italian Communist Party) and Leoluca Orlando's Rete. Both tried to ride the strong emotionalism of the moment, anticipating certain themes and modalities of the following political season, where the arrival of Berlusconi disrupted the old right/left vertical political divisions. They built the grounds through which certain left-wing populist movements - still little studied today - could find fertile ground from the turn of the century to the present day.