Italy in the Early 2000’s Part 1

The first years of the new century remained characterized by a clear contrast between the two political camps of center-right and center-left. This systematic conflict, devoid of the possibility of confrontation and meeting between the parties, except for a few rare occasions in foreign policy, remained the political figure of those years: a result perhaps inevitable after the start of bipolarism in 1994, but not necessarily positive for the political life of the country. In fact, that simplification of the party system was not obtained (see political parties) which was in the auspices of the supporters of bipolarism, while the personalization of politics was accentuated in exaggerated ways: a phenomenon linked largely to the figure and role of S. Berlusconi, to the consensus and dissensions conveyed to his person. The insistent and repeated announcement of epochal and decisive reforms held the ground in political communication, but neither of the two sides managed to initiate a coherent, let alone shared, reform process also due to the recurring internal tension in the two coalitions. And the alternation in government resulted, in many cases, in the cancellation of rules passed by the previous majority. While some historical evils of the country were confirmed, such as widespread corruption, the inadequacy of the ruling classes, lack of competitiveness, and was maintained, 2006.

In the regional elections of April 2000 the center-right conquered eight of the fifteen regions with ordinary statutes (Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Liguria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Puglia, Calabria which became nine in November 2001 after the cancellation and repetition of the elections in Molise). Prime Minister M. D’Alema drew conclusions from the defeat and resigned, giving way to another center-left government, led by G. Amato and characterized by the presence of prestigious technicians such as T. De Mauro at the Ministry of ‘Education and U. Veronesi to that of Health. The whole year 2000it remained marked by a permanent campaign atmosphere, punctuated by bitter tensions. The political conflict was barely tempered by the initiatives of the President of the Republic CA Ciampi, aimed at restoring prominence to the common patriotic traditions with a series of public interventions and with the relaunch of the republican national holidays. But already in the early months of 2000the rapprochement between Berlusconi and the leader of the U League had been achieved. At this point, no political deadline could find a solution in a constructive relationship between the two sides. Thus the main achievement of the center-left in the last phase of the legislature, the constitutional revision law (approved in March 2001 and confirmed by a referendum in the following October) which modified the Italian legal system in a federalist sense by expanding the competences of the regions (in the field of health, education, work, industry, public works, agriculture, tourism) and extending autonomy of municipalities, metropolitan areas and provinces, met with stiff opposition from the League and the center-right allies again. A reform destined to remain in force since the broader, and more contested one, passed by the center-right in November 2005 was not confirmed by the subsequent referendum.

According to, the campaign for the parliamentary elections of spring 2001 had actually started in the summer of the previous year. The opposition had long been demanding a return to the polls, while the center-left felt the urgent need to identify a candidate to oppose Berlusconi, whose leadership in the center-right coalition had been amply confirmed by the positive results of the European and regional elections. The candidacy of F. Rutelli, mayor of Rome, former radical and later exponent of the Greens, was already advanced in August (then completed in October with Amato’s resignation), not compromised by the mechanisms of the first Republic and popularized by good management of the jubilee of 2000. With great use of resources, Berlusconi set up the propaganda in terms of a marked personalization such as to obscure the contribution of the allies and to present the electoral consultation as a plebiscite on his person. Rutelli was unable to occupy the scene, while Berlusconi, unlike what happened in 1994 and 1996, escaped direct confrontation on television. In addition to Forza Italia, the CdL included the National Alliance (AN), the Biancofiore – which brought together the Christian Democratic Center (CCD) and the United Christian Democrats (CDU) – and the Northern League.

For the center-left, the Ulivo coalition included the Left Democrats (DS), La Margherita – a formation born in Oct. 2000 and composed of Rutelli, The Democrats, the Italian People’s Party (PPI), the Democratic Union for Europe (UDEUR) and Italian Renewal -, Il Girasole (Greens and Italian Socialists) and the Party of Italian Communists (PdCI). Italy of values ​​(IdV), led by former magistrate A. Di Pietro, who left the Democrats, presented itself autonomously as the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), which had nevertheless established agreements with the Ulivo for the uninominal of the room. The results of the elections of May 13 saw the clear victory of the CDL which in the Chamber obtained 118 seats more than the630 and in the Senate 46 out of 315. The victory of the CdL was favored by the majority mechanism despite the modest difference in the overall votes reported in the uninominal of the Chamber. In the proportional share of the Chamber, which makes it possible to measure the gap between the two coalitions, the percentage differences were very strong (Ulivo 35.5%, CdL 48.5 %). The threshold of 4 % in the proportional was exceeded only by Forza Italia, the DS, Margherita, AN and the PRC; the League, despite the drastic downsizing (it went from 10.1% to 3.9%), nevertheless managed to conquer 30seats in the uninominal. The IdV obtained a similar percentage of votes. The DS, AN and the PRC lost votes, while Forza Italia once again became the first party with a consensus rate of 29.4 %. A good success (14.5%) recorded the new formation of the Margherita, driven by the Rutelli candidacy. Ber-lusconi’s new victory was based on his ability to convey the moderate vote widespread among all social strata, but present above all in the young and elderly age groups, and to collect the intolerance for traditional politics whose defects were entirely attributed to the misrule of the left. The geographical distribution of success was striking, with a more marked contribution from southern Italy and the islands, and from Sicily in particular where the CdL secured all single-member colleges. However, in the contemporary administrative elections, the Olive tree managed in part to balance the defeat with the reconquest of large municipalities such as Turin, Naples and Rome where the former secretary of the DS, W. Veltroni. The electoral rounds of 1996 and 2001 had sanctioned a profound change in the material constitution of the country: the political elections identified a prime minister, whose name now appeared in the symbol of the coalition, thus resulting in a popular mandate and later only formally charged by the President of the Republic to establish the new executive.

Italy in the Early 2000's 1