The collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe precipitated changes in Italy, as well. In 1991 the Italian Communists renamed themselves the Democratic Party of the Left, downplaying their former atheism and emphasis on class conflict in favor of issues such as the environment, feminism, and the economic disparity between the country’s industrial north and the poverty-ridden south. The Socialist Party, still led by Craxi, tried to unify the left and renamed itself the Party of Socialist Unity. Meanwhile, the separatist Northern League gained popularity by criticizing central government waste and advocating a federal system that would grant more regional autonomy.
Voters showed their lack of confidence in all established parties and their desire for change in elections held in 1992. The once-dominant Christian Democrats received 29.7 percent of the vote, an all-time low. The Democratic Party of the Left (formerly the Communist Party), in second place, drew 16.1 percent, down from 26.6 percent in 1987; the Socialists were third, with 13.6 percent.
The voter backlash resulted from a combination of factors, including a poor economy and high unemployment. The dominant feeling, however, was shock at the revelations of widespread political corruption and Mafia influence at high levels of the government. The collapse of the former political parties left the judges free for the first time to pursue corruption charges. In the years that followed, thousands of individuals, including hundreds of politicians as well as judicial and business leaders, were investigated or arrested on charges that included taking bribes and granting political and economic favors.
The murders of the anti-Mafia judges in Palermo in 1992 heightened the sense of revulsion with the old political parties and strengthened the pressure for political reform. The corruption charges and political scandal forced Craxi to resign as head of the Socialist Party in early 1993.
In 1994, facing arrest for accepting bribes, he fled to Tunisia, where he remained in self-imposed exile until his death in 2000.
In 1993 Italian voters approved eight governmental reform referendums, which revised the country’s electoral system and ended state funding of political parties. The reforms resulted in much greater political autonomy for regional and city governments, which profoundly changed what had been a highly centralized structure in Italian politics and public administration. Soon after the elections Socialist Prime Minister Giuliano Amato resigned and was replaced by the head of the Bank of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who created a cross-party government of technocrats.
In March 1994 a newly formed right-wing coalition called the Freedom Alliance was voted into power, winning 58 percent of the vote; the left-wing coalition received 34 percent of the vote, and the once-dominant centrist parties drew only 7 percent.
The Freedom Alliance was composed of the new Forza Italia (“Go Italy”) party, a creation of media magnate Silvio Berlusconi; the far-right National Alliance; and the Northern League. With 25 percent of the vote, Forza Italia was the election leader, and Berlusconi was named prime minister, with the Freedom Alliance holding a majority in the Chamber of Deputies and forming the strongest force in the Senate. But Berlusconi’s coalition collapsed in December 1994 when the Northern League withdrew from the alliance. Berlusconi, who was also facing investigation on bribery charges, resigned as prime minister. In January 1995 Lamberto Dini, Berlusconi’s treasury minister, was appointed prime minister to lead a politically neutral, transitional government. Uncontrolled public expenditure on lavish pension and welfare schemes, the massive scale of political corruption in the past, and an overlarge and unproductive public sector all contributed to soaring deficits and dangerous levels of national debt. Dini’s government passed an austerity budget to deal with Italy’s worsening economy. It also attempted to reform the regional electoral system and state pension system and to enact rules governing political access to television. Dini resigned in January 1996, but continued in office until elections were held in April. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
Photos of European countries to visit
Photos of Asian countries to visit
Photos of America