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Elections in June 1946


Enrico de Nicola
Enrico de Nicola

In June 1946 elections were held for a constituent assembly to decide the constitutional form of the new Italian state. Nearly 25 million voters, about 89 percent of the eligible electorate, which for the first time included women, participated. Of the voters, 54.3 percent chose a republic. On June 10, Italy became a republic. Three days later King Humbert abdicated and left the country.

In the 1946 vote for the Constituent Assembly the Christian Democrats won a plurality of 207 seats and emerged as the dominant party in Italy. The Socialist Party won 115 seats, the Communists gained 104 seats, and four minor parties shared the remaining 117 seats. Enrico de Nicola, a member of the Liberal Party, was elected provisional president of the republic. De Gasperi remained as prime minister.

Irreconcilable disagreements between the Communists and Christian Democrats soon became evident. This friction was intensified by persistent food shortages and near famine and by the generally chaotic Italian economy. As the prestige of the De Gasperi government declined, the Socialist and Communist parties drew together. Municipal elections in November 1946 indicated a decline in Christian Democratic support and gains for the Communist, Socialist, and rightist parties.

The Constituent Assembly drafted a constitution for Italy. Approved on December 22, 1947, by a vote of 453 to 62, the document became effective on January 1, 1948. The constitution introduced a system of proportional representation and restored the guarantees of civil liberties taken away by the fascist government.

However, a court decision in 1948 deferred indefinitely many of the more radical innovations of the constitution. The Constitutional Court was not created until 1956, the Supreme Council of the Magistracy until 1958, while the measures of regional autonomy included in the constitution were only introduced in the 1970s. As a result the legal codes introduced by the fascist regime continued unchanged, as did the magistrates and law enforcement agencies. The constitution also confirmed the privileges that Mussolini had conceded to the papacy, established Catholicism as the official state religion, and made religious education compulsory. On family and marriage law the constitution also followed Catholic precepts. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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