During the 1970s and 1980s Italy’s Christian Democratic establishment was shaken by a series of scandals. In 1978 President Giovanni Leone resigned after he was accused of involvement in a bribery scandal. Other scandals brought down the government of prime minister Arnaldo Forlani in 1981. Afterward, Giovanni Spadolini, leader of the small Republican Party, became the first prime minister since 1945 who was not a Christian Democrat.
In 1983 Bettino Craxi became Italy’s first Socialist prime minister since the war. A flamboyant and effective political leader, Craxi dominated the politics of the 1980s. He served until March 1987, the longest tenure of any postwar leader, and reorganized the Socialist Party. The Craxi era was one of economic recovery and the rapid expansion of the consumer economy. In particular, Italy became the principal exporter of a wide range of consumer goods noted for their design. Family-based concerns such as Benetton played a major role. The Craxi era was followed by a period of short-lived coalition governments.
An uncontrolled expansion of organized crime, especially in the South, marked the 1980s in Italy. In 1982 the police chief who had masterminded the operations against the Red Brigades was sent to Sicily to bring to an end a wave of mafia killings. Six months later he and his wife were gunned down by mafia killers in downtown Palermo. In response, the government established a massive judicial investigation that resulted in the arrest and mass trials of hundreds suspected of links with the Mafia. Many Mafiosi testified for the prosecution, but their families were vulnerable to reprisals, and many of the convictions were overturned on appeal.
In 1992 the Mafia carried out its most flagrant defiance of the government, killing the two judges who were leading the anti-Mafia investigations. In Naples, the Camorra was the equivalent of the Mafia in Sicily, and it became extremely powerful in the 1980s. Like the Mafia it owed its rise to political favors that gave access to lucrative public contracts. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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