Italy in the 21st Century Part 2

Italy in the 21st Century Part 2

Oath of rite of the President of the Republic Napolitano

According to, the opposition was instead in difficulty: following the resignation of Veltroni presented following the defeat of the party in the regionals in Sardinia (February 2009), the Democratic Party was looking for a strong and authoritative leadership capable of indicating a united perspective to the different political cultures (communist, left-wing catholic, socialist, liberal democratic) merged into the PD where they tended to remain divided by aggregating on the basis of ancient affiliations or around weakly representative leaders. The new secretary Pier Luigi Bersani, indicated through primary elections, did not seem able to give new dynamism to his party, while the center-right succeeded, in a first phase, to overcome the crisis resulting from the break between Berlusconi and Gianfranco Fini (leader of the National Alliance and President of the Chamber). The latter’s criticisms of Berlusconi’s repeated stances against the judiciary and the party’s monochromatic management led to a harsh personal confrontation without the possibility of conciliation. Fini and the ‘Finiani’ (35 deputies and 10 senators of the PDL), effectively ousted from the PDL (July 2010), first founded a separate parliamentary group and then a new party (February 2011), called Future and freedom for Italy (FLI), which chose to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to give its votes to the government.

In the following months, the executive tried to stop the sharpening of the economic crisis with further cuts in public spending: this policy of reducing expenses, strongly desired by the Minister of Economy Giulio Tremonti, led to a series of strikes and demonstrations by trade unions , social movements and students and contrasts in the same majority, especially with the League.

After a vote of confidence in December 2010 in which the government obtained the majority by only three votes (the votes of FLI and those of some parliamentarians who quickly passed in the majority, for opportunism or personal gain), the 2011 opened with a situation of profound uncertainty, aggravated by a new scandal involving Berlusconi, accused this time of having had relations with an underage prostitute and of having abused his powers to save the girl from a police arrest.

The story dominated the pages of newspapers for months, strongly weakening the public image of the premier (who, however, the subsequent trial sent him acquitted in March 2015). Meanwhile, the 2011 administrative elections highlighted a consensus crisis for the PDL, which lost the traditional stronghold of Milan, while the center-left maintained the municipality of Turin and in Naples a coalition made up of IdV, Federation of the left and civic lists led by Luigi de Magistris. A further sign of change came from the abrogative referendums of 2011 – which reached a quorum for the first time since 1995 – with the choice of the Italians to keep the water service in public hands and to reiterate the opposition to nuclear energy.

The crisis of the executive was further accentuated, in the following months, by the serious financial situation of the country: a condition that prompted a series of international pressures – and a real injunction by the European Union – so that the Italy, at risk of default, adopted drastic measures of rigor. Cornered by European pressure and by the very parties of his disintegrating majority, Berlusconi announced that he would resign after the approval of the stability law. In the meantime, the President of the Republic Napolitano – considered by internal and international public opinion as the only guarantor of national credibility – took the unusual and in some respects unusual initiative to solicit the formation of an emergency technical government with the support of all the major parties. Monti, professor of economics, president of the Bocconi University of Milan, former European Commissioner for the Market and Competition, appointed senator for life just a few days earlier, especially on the way out. Government austerity measures, despite success in narrowing the gap (spread) between Italy and Germany of the rates of return on government bonds which made it possible to reduce the weight of interest on the public budget, did not seem sufficient to stem the growing unemployment, especially among young people, and to provide tools for the recovery of the economy which remained stagnant. Meanwhile, mistrust in politics was growing, fueled by numerous scandals relating in particular to the improper use of funds guaranteed by the state to the parties for the reimbursement of electoral expenses (scandals that involved above all the League, whose leader Umberto Bossi was forced to resign), the progressive strengthening of the M5S was linked to this mistrust which, in the 2012 administrative elections, affirmed itself in many cities; one of his representatives was elected mayor of Parma.

Policy results

In the following months, while Berlusconi, despite being sentenced to 4 years in prison for tax fraud (Oct. 2012), declared that he wanted to present himself again in the following political elections, the PDL, in disagreement with the government on judicial reforms, withdrew his confidence and Monti was forced to resign (December 2012), announcing shortly after the birth of his movement, Scelta civica, with the aim of removing the centrist and moderate electorate from the PDL.

On February 24-25, 2013, the new political elections were held: the PD, which nominated Bersani, collected 25.4% of the votes in the Chamber and, with its SEL allies, Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà (3.2%) – the party founded in December 2009 by the PRC current that gathered around Nichi Vendola, by the Democratic Left and by some members of the Greens – and other minor formations, obtained, by virtue of the electoral law that rewarded the winning coalition, the absolute majority of seats in the Chamber (340, plus 5 deputies elected abroad). In the Senate, given the different voting mechanism, no majority emerged and, therefore, it was not possible for the center-left to form a government alone. While the results of the center-right – PdL 21.6%, Lega Nord 4.1%, Fratelli d’Italia (the party made up of former AN exponents who left the PDL) 1.9% – and those of the coalition that supported the candidacy of Monti (his Civic Choice party got 8.3%, UdC 1.8% and FLI di Fini 0.5%) were disappointing, the consensus received by the M5S (25.6%), the most voted party, was conspicuous. The bad electoral result led Fini to resign from the position of secretary of FLI which, in the following months, effectively ceased to exist.

Italy in the 21st Century 3