Italy in the 21st Century Part 1

Italy in the 21st Century 1

The long transition linked to the collapse of the party system of the first Republic seemed to have found a stable solution in the bipolarity between the center-right and the center-left that had alternated in the government between 1994 and 2011. The erosion of credibility of the Berlusconi government, in office since 2008, combined with the persistent economic crisis, made essential the birth, promoted in November 2011 by the President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, of an executive, chaired by Mario Monti and supported by the major political forces, thus interrupting the bipolar alternation. Furthermore, the result of the 2013 political elections presented a different scenario from the one that characterized the previous decade, following the success of the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), the formation founded by the former comedian Beppe Grillo.

According to, the unexpected outcome, due to its size, of the M5S signaled some phenomena of great importance: on the one hand, the crumbling of the traditional form of party with large territorial settlement, already started with the birth of the personal party focused on the figure of Silvio Berlusconi and confirmed from the difficult unitary aggregation of the center-left formations (also to the arduous search for lasting leadership), on the other the widespread phenomenon of anti-politics which was also expressed in the progressive reduction of electoral participation. To this were added the novelty and the particular structure of the M5S, founded on a different and entirely media militancy of its followers, who decided both political choices and candidacies through online consultations, but always under the watchful control of the founder and leader. These were all signs of a policy in difficulty in maintaining a lasting grip on society and unable to provide convincing immediate answers and long-term solutions not only to the global economic crisis that also affected the Italy, but also to the causes of the production recession. Italian, the growing unemployment, especially among young people.

Gianni Letta and Silvio Berlusconi

Both the government chaired by Romano Prodi, in office since 2006, and that of Berlusconi who succeeded him in 2008, both expressions of a coalition, had had to deal with serious internal divisions. The Prodi ministry – the result of a composite alliance (the Union) which included in addition to the Margherita and the Left Democrats (DS) coalescing in the Olive Tree, the radical left (Communist Refoundation Party, PRC; Party of Italian Communists, PdCI), Italy of values ​​(IdV) by Antonio Di Pietro, the Democratic Union for Europe (UDEUR) by Clemente Mastella, the Radicals and the Socialists (La rosa nel fugno), the Federation of the Greens (FdV) – went through a first crisis in February 2007 when two senators from the PRC and the PdCI did not vote on the government’s military policy decisions.

Results of the European elections

The weakness of the government also contributed to the birth, in the autumn of 2007, of the Democratic Party (PD) – the result of the merger of the DS, Margherita and other minor formations – which aimed to reunite the components of the front in a single party. progressive, former Communists and former Christian Democrats on the left. Its promoter and leader Walter Veltroni, then mayor of Rome, had decided to overcome the system of Union alliances by rejecting in particular the difficult coexistence between the radical forces and the reformist ones of the center-left, precisely the union on which the Prodi ministry. Berlusconi responded to this decision in a very short time and, in November 2007, announced the birth of the People of Freedom (PdL,

At the beginning of 2008 a new crisis, determined by the resignation of the Minister of Justice Clemente Mastella, investigated for external competition in a criminal association and concussion, led to the exit from the majority of the UDEUR, forcing Prodi to resign and making his return inevitable at the polls. The electoral round of April 2008 saw a conspicuous success of the center-right: the coalition led by Berlusconi formed by the PDL, the Northern League and the Movement for autonomy, obtained a large majority with 344 seats in the Chamber and 174 in the Senate. The center-left alliance, led by Veltroni and formed by the PD and the IdV, collected, however, only 246 and 134 seats. In addition to these parties, only the UDC crossed the threshold while no party of the far left entered Parliament: the list La Sinistra l’Arcobaleno, which united the PRC, PdCI, FdV and the Democratic Left – a formation largely made up of members of the left wing of the DS who had not joined the PD – only obtained 3.2% of the votes. The defeat of the center left was confirmed by the victory of Gianni Alemanno of the PDL (but coming from the National Alliance) in the municipal elections of Rome, after fifteen years of left-wing mayors.

At the helm of the new government, Berlusconi undertook to revive the economy by aiming at a reduction in the tax burden. But these commitments remained at the level of intentions (only the municipal tax on the main residence was abolished, in homage to the electoral promises, only to be reintroduced later under another name) given the persistent difficulties of public finance aggravated by the economic crisis that was affecting all advanced countries and that in Italy would have led to a real recession. The crisis did not affect the banking sector, as elsewhere, but severely affected production and manufacturing exports as well as internal consumption. The reduction in revenues, the effect of the decline in economic activities, forced the government to drastic cuts, particularly in health and education, especially university, without being able to slow down the increase in public debt. One of the first and most significant acts of the government had been the approval (August) of the so-called Lodo Alfano (named after the Minister of Justice, Angelino Alfano), a provision that removed the highest offices of the State (President of the Republic, presidents of Chambers, President of the Council) to the judgment of the courts for the entire period of their mandate. The law, which was actually aimed at protecting Berlusconi alone from the numerous legal disputes that had seen him accused for years, would have been judged unconstitutional in October 2009. The judicial events of the Prime Minister, accompanied by a constant conflict with the judiciary, and his casual and ostentatious acquaintances with young women (the object of a harsh distancing from his wife) had, in those years, a large critical echo in a significant part of public opinion, but did not seem to weaken the center-right which obtained brilliant results so much in the 2009 European elections, as well as in the 2010 regional elections, when it took Lazio, Piedmont, Campania and Calabria away from the center-left. A peak of popularity had reached Berlusconi after the earthquake that destroyed L’Aquila on 6 April 2009, causing 300 deaths and rendering almost half of the homes in the worst-hit area unusable. The decision to hold the G8 meeting in L’Aquila, originally planned on the island of La Maddalena (where all the structures had almost been completed),

Italy in the 21st Century 1