ITALY'S SECOND REPUBLIC 2011 TO PRESENT | HISTORY OF ITALY

On 12 November 2011, Mario Monti was invited by President Giorgio Napolitano to form a new technocratic government following Berlusconi's resignation. Monti's government was made up of non-political figures but received very wide support in Parliament, both on the centre-right and on the centre-left; the Northern League was in opposition. Monti proceeded to implement structural reforms and to cut government expenses. The People of Freedom party lost support under the nominal leadership of Angelino Alfano, widely regarded as Berlusconi's puppet. New political forces started to emerge. Some observers regard the Monti government as the first government of an Italian Third republic following Berlusconi's demise. The shadow of the ageing Berlusconi has not however fully dispersed.

2013 election and Letta Cabinet

After the general election held on 24 and 25 February 2013, the centre-left alliance Italy Common Good led by the Democratic Party obtained a clear majority of seats in the Chamber of Deputies, thanks to a majority bonus that has effectively trebled the number of seats assigned to the winning force, while in the popular vote it narrowly defeated the centre-right alliance of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Close behind, the new anti-establishment Five Star Movement of comedian Beppe Grillo became the third force, clearly ahead of the centrist coalition of outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti. In the Senate, no political group or party won an outright majority, resulting in a hung parliament On 22 April 2013, the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, after his re-election, immediately started consultations with the chairmen of the Chamber of Deputies, Senate and political forces, after the failure of the previous attempt with Pier Luigi Bersani after the elections, and the establishment of a panel of experts by the President himself (dubbed as wise men by the press), in order to outline priorities and formulate an agenda to deal with the persistent economic hardship and growing unemployment. On 24 April, Giorgio Napolitano gave to the vice-secretary of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, the task of forming a government, having determined that Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the winning coalition Italy Common Good, could not form a government because it did not have a majority in the Senate. Enrico Letta is the successor of Mario Monti, who resigned on 21 December 2012 but whose government remained in charge for the ordinary administration until 28 April 2013, the day the new government was sworn in.

2014 Renzi government

Letta's cabinet lasted until 22 February 2014 (for a total of 300 days), as the government fell apart after the Democratic Party retired its support of Letta in favour of Matteo Renzi, the 39-year old mayor of Florence and nicknamed "Il Rottamatore" (the scrapper). Renzi succeeded Letta as Prime Minister at the head of a new grand coalition government with Democratic Party, strong of 309 MPs and 109 Senators, New Centre-Right, Civic Choice, and a number of minor parties, including Union of the Centre, the Populars for Italy (PpI), Solidary Democracy (Demo.S, since July 2014), the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), and non-party independents. The Renzi Cabinet is the youngest government of Italy up to date, with an average age of 47. In addition, it is also the first in which the number of female ministers is equal to the number of male ministers. On 31 January 2015 Sergio Mattarella, judge of the Constitutional Court, former DC minister and former member of the PD, was elected President of the Italian Republic at the fourth ballot with 665 votes out of 1,009, with support from the Democratic Party, Centre-Right, Left Ecology Freedom, and non-party independents. Italy's Lawmakers Elect Sergio Mattarella as President Mattarella was officially endorsed by the Democratic Party, after his name was put forward by the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Mattarella replaced Giorgio Napolitano, who had served for nine years, the longest presidency in the history of the Italian Republic.

History,

BERLUSCONI THIRD GOVERNMENT 2008 -2011

Berlusconi won the last snap elections in 2008, with the People of Freedom party (fusion of his previous Forza Italia party and of Fini's Alleanza Nazionale) against Walter Veltroni of the Democratic Party. The electoral campaign was waged by Berlusconi on the tones of criminal insecurity brought in the country by the 2006 pardon act, on the Naples waste management issue (although this will remain haunting the government in the following years), on the need to avoid bankruptcy of Alitalia or its takeover by Air France, on the need to limit the use of wiretapping by prosecutors and magistrates to avoid judicial prosecution of citizens, and on the abolition of the local council property tax. The 2008 Lodo Alfano Act (declared unconstitutional in 2009) granted immunity from prosecution to the four highest political offices in Italy, including Berlusconi. The 2009 Maroni decree (dubbed security package) includes a set of measures against criminality and illegal immigration, allowing for the use of private patrols (however with modest actual impact), criminalisation of stalking and compulsory incarceration for sex offenses. The 2009 fiscal shield provided for the regularisation of capitals illegally detained abroad; local council property tax was abolished the same year.

A Treaty of Friendship was signed between Italy and Libya in 2008 in Benghazi. The treaty provides for the closure of colonial contentious, upon investments from Italy for 5 bln € in 20 years in infrastructure in Libya; for the mutual commitment not to act in a hostile way (criticised as not legally compliant with Italy's NATO obligations). Libyan Dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi subsequently visited Rome in June, July and August 2009, sparkling controversies for his initiatives and speeches. The Berlusconi government was criticised for the lack of firmness toward the Libyan autocracy and the lack of requests of respect of human rights. The case of Eluana Englaro (who had been comatose for 17 years)re-ignited the debate on the right to die in Italy. After the family of Eluana Englaro succeeded in having her right to die recognised by the judges and getting doctors to stop her forced feeding in the way established by the court, the government issued a legally controversial decree to stop the doctor from letting her die, thrusting Italy into a constitutional crisis when the President of the Republic refused to sign the decree. The crisis was defused by Eluana's final death.

The 2009 L'Aquila earthquake caused the death of 308 persons and made about 65,000 homeless. Berlusconi made a point of honour of the reconstruction, although this was accompanied by criticisms, especially by the inhabitants of L'Aquila. The 35th G8 summit of 2009 was hastily moved from La Maddalena to L'Aquila in an effort to promote reconstruction. On 13 December 2009 Berlusconi was hit in the face with an alabaster statuette of Milan Cathedral after a rally in Milan's Piazza Duomo, suffering facial and teeth injuries. The attacker was found to have a history of mental illness but no previous criminal record Between 2009 and 2010, Berlusconi was involved in a prostitution scandal leading to his divorce: he was revealed to having had close acquaintance with pre-18-year-old girls, and several call girls presented proofs of having had sex with him and having been paid for that. In one case, Berlusconi was accused of using his influence to obtain the release of a 17-year-old Moroccan girl, of his acquaitance, who was arrested for theft; Berlusconi pretended she was a close relative of Hosni Mubarak.

In 2010, Berlusconi's party saw the splintering of Gianfranco Fini's new faction, which formed a parliamentary group and voted against him in a no-confidence vote on 14 December 2010. Berlusconi's government was able to avoid no-confidence thanks to support from sparse MPs, but lost a consistent majority in the lower Chamber. A controversial university reform was passed in late 2010 and carries the name of Education minister Mariastella Gelmini. Berlusconi's already low international credibility fell further in 2011 during the European sovereign-debt crisis. Financial markets showed their disapproval through an unsustainable increase of spreads between Italian and German government bond yields. Berlusconi resigned in November 2011; he later blamed German chancellor Angela Merkel.

History,

BERLUSCONI'S SECOND GOVERNMENT 2001 TO 2006

The May 2001 election, where both coalitions used decoy lists to undermine the proportional-compensation part of the electoral system, ushered a refashioned center-right coalition, House of Freedoms dominated by Berlusconi's party, Forza Italia (29.2%) and including Alleanza Nazionale (12,5%), the Lega Nord, the Christian Democratic Center and the United Christian Democrats. The Olive Tree coalition ( The Daisy (14,5%) and the Democrats of the Left (16.7%)) sat in the opposition. in Genoa, Italy by burning vehicles on the main route to the summit.]] Berlusconi's II foreign policy was characterised by a strong atlanticist trend, coupled with a positive attitude towards Putin's Russia and Erdogan's Turkey. Berlusconi advocated the accession of Turkey to the EU (notwithstanding the opposition of coalition partner Lega Nord) and at the 2002 Rome summit a NATO-Russia Council was set up.

In UN reform issues, Italy took the lead of the Uniting for Consensus group, aiming at blocking a new German seat at the UN Security Council, while advocating for a unitary EU seat The 27th G8 summit, held in Genoa in July 2001 represented the first international task of the government. The huge protest, mounting to 200,000 demonstrants from all over Europe, was countered by strong police repression. Dozens were hospitalized following clashes with police and night raids by security forces on two schools housing activists and independent journalists. People taken into custody after the raids have alleged severe abuse at the hands of police. One demonstrator was shot dead.

Berlusconi made Italy take part in the Afghanistan war (2001) and in the US-led military coalition in Iraq in 2003, although always stressing that Italy was taking part in a "peace operation" and not in a war operation outside the UN framework (prohibited by art.11 of the Italian Constitution). The move was widely unpopular (especially in the case of Iraq), and was met by protests and manifestations. Italy's participation in the Iraq war, with the control over the Nassiriya sector was marked by the 2003 Nasiriyah bombing, in which 17 soldiers were killed, and by an incident with the US, concerning the death, by friendly fire, of a SISMI agent, Nicola Calipari, during the March 2005 rescue of Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter from Il Manifesto.

In labour law, the government introduced extensive flexibility through the 30/2003 Act. In the field of justice, a reform of the Right of self-defense Act was introduced to please the Lega Nord. The 2002 Bossi- Fini Act represented a restrictive approach to immigration, while the 2006 Fini - Giovanardi Act strengthened the prohibitionary approach to drug policy. A point-system driver's licence was introduced in 2003, and compulsory conscription was replaced by a professional army since 2005. A constitutional reform including federalization and strengthened executive powers, passed in the Parliament, was rejected by a confirmation referendum in 2006. Berlusconi's term was widely criticised for the approval of ad personam (personal) laws (usually named from the rapporteur minister or MP), especially in the field of justice, such as:

  • the Frattini Act on conflict of interest;
  • the 2002 Cirami Act on the recusation of judges by the accused;
  • the 2003 Schifani Act, shielding the five highest state posts from criminal proceedings (declared unconstitutional in 2004);
  • the 2005 ex-Cirielli Act, about statute of limitations, especially applicable in the case of Cesare Previti, Berlusconi's lawyer;
  • the 2006 Pecorella Act, making it impossible for the public prosecutors to appeal a sentence of acquittal(partially declared unconstitutional in 2006);
  • the de-criminalisation of false accounting;
  • the Gasparri Act on the radio & TV market, making it easier for Mediaset to escape roof limits of advertisement collection, and considered not in compliance with EU Law by the EU Commission;

Internally, Berlusconi set up the Mitrokhin Commission, directed by senator Paolo Guzzanti (Forza Italia), to investigate on alleged KGB ties by left-wing (then-opposition) politicians. The Commission, closed in March 2006 without producing a final report, was very controversial, in particular after claiming that Romano Prodi, at that time Prime minister of Italy, and former President of the European Commission, had been "KGB's man in Italy." One of the Senator Guzzanti's informants, Mario Scaramella, was arrested at the end of December 2006 for defamation and arms-trade. A new electoral law was established in 2005 by the Calderoli Law, and it is a form of semi-proportional representation. A party presents its own closed list and it can join other parties in alliances. The coalition which receives a plurality automatically wins at least 26 seats. Respecting this condition, seats are divided between coalitions, and subsequently to party lists, using the largest remainder method with a Hare quota. To receive seats, a party must overcome the barrage of 8% of the vote if it contests a single race, or of 3% of the vote if it runs in alliance. The change in the electoral law was strongly requested by the UDC, and finally agreed by Berlusconi, although criticised (including by political scientist Giovanni Sartori) for its comeback to proportionalism and its timing, less than one year before general elections. Provision was also included, on the input of Mirko Tremaglia, to ease the vote of Italians resident abroad; paradoxically, Italians abroad proved crucial in securing centre-left victory in 2006 elections.

History,

ITALY'S SECOND REPUBLIC 2006 TO 2008

Romano Prodi, with a center-left coalition (The Union), won the April 2006 general election by a very narrow margin due to Calderoli new electoral law, although Silvio Berlusconi first refused to acknowledge defeat. Prodi's coalition proved to be extremely frail, as the two-vote margin in the Senate allowed almost any party in the coalition to veto legislation and political views inside the coalition spanned from far-left Communist parties to Christian Democrats. soldier on guard duty in Lebanon]] In foreign policy, the Prodi II Cabinet continued the engagement in Afghanistan, under UN command, while withdrawing troops from post-invasion Iraq. The major effort of foreign minister Massimo D'Alema concerned the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon War, being the first to offer troops to the UN for the constitution of the UNIFIL force, and assuming its command in February 2007.

Less than a year after he had won the elections, on 21 February 2007, Prodi tendered his resignation to Head of State Giorgio Napolitano after the government was defeated in the Senate by 2 ballots in a vote on foreign policy. On 24 February, President Napolitano invited him to return to office and face a vote of confidence. Major causes of friction inside the coalition were, the 2006 pardon Act (criticised by the right and by the IDV party), a draft bill to establish civil unions (vetoed by Christian Democrats), Italy's continued involvement in Afghanistan (strongly opposed by left-wing parties), and finally the much publicized house-arrest of Clemente Mastella's wife (then a prominent politician at the regional level) over a corruption scandal. Mastella's party, UDEUR, held just enough seats in the Senate that his eventual decision to withdraw its support for the government meant the end of the legislature on February 6, 2008. Mastella, who also resigned from his office as Minister of Justice, cited the lack of personal support from his coalition partners' as one the reasons behind his decision, BBC, 16 January 2008 Italian justice minister resigns together with a proposed reform of the electoral system which would have made it difficult for small parties like his own to gain seats in the Italian Parliament. 

History,

ITALY FROM 1996 TO 2001

A series of center-left coalitions dominated Italy's political landscape between 1996 and 2001, which introduced a number of progressive reforms in areas such as social security. In April 1996, national elections led to the victory of a center-left coalition under the leadership of Romano Prodi. The Olive Tree included PDS, PPI (the largest surviving piece of the former DC), and other small parties, with "external support" from the communists (voting confidence but not entering government). Prodi's government became the third-longest to stay in power before he narrowly lost a vote of confidence, by three votes, in October 1998.

Prodi's programme consisted in restoring the country's economic health, in order to pursue the then seemingly unreachable goal of leading the country within the strict Euro convergence criteria set at Maastricht and make the country join the Euro. He succeeded in this in little more than six months. His government fell in 1998 when the Communist Refoundation Party withdrew its support. This led to the formation of a new government led by Massimo D'Alema as Prime Minister. As the result of a vote of no confidence in Prodi's government, D'Alema's nomination was passed by a single vote, with the support of a loyal communist faction (PdCI) and of some centrist MPs (UDR) led by former president of the Republic Francesco Cossiga.

While D'Alema was Prime Minister, Italy took part in the NATO bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999. The attack was supported by Silvio Berlusconi and the centre-right opposition, but the far left strongly contested it. It was a very important test about the government loyalty to NATO and the country's foreign policy, as it concerned the first post-communist leader of Italy and the first military action formally outside a UN mandate. In May 1999, the Parliament selected Carlo Azeglio Ciampi as the President of the Republic. Ciampi, a former Prime Minister and Minister of the Treasury, and before the governor of the Bank of Italy, was elected on the first ballot with an easy margin over the required two-thirds votes. In April 2000, following poor performance by his coalition in regional elections, D'Alema resigned. The succeeding caretaker center-left government, including most of the same parties, was headed by Giuliano Amato (who previously served as Prime Minister in 1992-93) until the 2001 election. A constitutional referendum in 2001 confirmed a constitutional amendment to introduce early federalization, with residual legislative competence upon the Regions instead than upon the State.

History,

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