Italy in the Early 2000’s Part 2

The Berlusconi government took office in June, with G. Fini as deputy prime minister and Bossi as minister for institutional reforms. Supported by a large majority, the government accentuated its legislative initiative by passing a series of delegating laws: it was a political and operational choice, not a new one, aimed at shortening parliamentary times and strengthening the role of the executive, but which did not escape the lengthy procedures for finalizing the implementing decrees. Like this,2001, which included the discussed rules on the alleviation of penalties for false accounting, intended according to the opposition to alleviate, among other things, the judicial proceedings of the Prime Minister, had been implemented in April 2002. In the education sector, the reorganization of school cycles adopted by the previous center-left government was canceled and in March 2003 an enabling law was approved, contested by a large part of the school world, containing general rules on education and vocational training (the reform Moratti), while the implementing decrees were completed in October 2005. In other fields, however, the government and the majority proceeded more quickly, approving several important measures over the course of a year. Among the most significant are the provisions relating to the abolition of the tax on donations and inheritances (Oct 2001), those which introduced the securitization procedure for the sale of properties in public hands, those for repayment or regularization, fiscally protected and anonymous, of capital illegally held abroad, those to make the relationship between the government and the administration more politically controlled with the automatic revocation, subject to renewal, of public management positions (the so-called spoil system). Finally, there was an increase in the minimum pensions up to the amount of 516 euros. On two other measures, the contrast between the majority and the opposition was particularly intense: these were controversial matters but crucial for the majority because, in the first case, they concerned the systems for collecting evidence by non-Italian judicial bodies, consequently investing some judicial proceedings in which representatives of Forza Italia were involved and because, in the second case, they touched on some programmatic points that cannot be renounced for the League and for AN. The rules on international letters rogatory were thus retroactively reformed (Oct 2001), despite the contrary opinion of large sectors of the judiciary, and it was enacted (July 2002) a new immigration law (Bossi-Fini law) which restricted the possibilities of entry, strictly bound the immigrant’s stay to the possession of an employment contract and made the expulsion criteria more rigorous. An amnesty was introduced for domestic workers and for the figures of ‘carers’, those in charge of the sick and the elderly. This legislation, intended to reduce the widespread alarm linked to frequent episodes of crime attributable to immigrants, also provided for the taking of fingerprints at the time of granting or renewing the residence permit, which was reduced to two years. Since its appearance, the Bossi-Fini proposal had aroused perplexity and protests not only in the political formations of the left, but also in the world of Catholic associations, traditionally open to hospitality, and in large sectors of companies that made extensive use of non-EU labor. The government’s achievements confirmed the innovative and breaking content of the center-right’s proposals, even if on individual issues the majority registered internal tensions and dissensions.

According to, the government’s beginnings had not been brilliant. The summit of the G 8 held in Genoa on 20-22 July 2001, while prepared with great care and great resources, resulted in an image damage for the country to serious injury and destruction caused by the violent fringes of the anti-globalization demonstrators (i no global), largely predictable but that the police had not been able to control and contain, were added the death of a young demonstrator killed by a gunshot fired by a carabiniere and subsequent unjustified violence by the police. In the months that followed, Berlusconi and Foreign Minister R. Ruggiero, former director of the WTO (World Trade Organization) and much appreciated in the international world, they managed to strengthen Italy’s role by placing the country decisively alongside the United States, hit by the very serious attacks of 11 September. An episode lived in Italy with great participation and a spirit of solidarity. The government decided to participate, even by sending a military contingent, in the war against the Ṭālibān regime in Afghānistān, obtaining the support of the center left. Between the end of 2001 and the beginning of the new year, disagreements, diversity of views and hints of skepticism about pro-European politics emerged in the important phase of the introduction of the single currency.foreign interim. Berlusconi aimed to strengthen ties, political and personal, with the British Prime Minister T. Blair and the Spaniard JM Aznar and began a privileged relationship with the Russian President V. Putin. This policy, which aimed at a new protagonism of Italy, culminated in the NATO summit in Pratica di Mare on May 28, 2002 in which Russia was associated in the NATO-Russia Council, a consultation and cooperation body of the Atlantic Alliance. That same spring, the problems of labor law reform in order to reduce unemployment and loosen business constraints came to the fore. For the majority, the decisive step was that of modifying art. 18of the Workers’ Statute which prevented companies with more than fifteen employees from dismissing employees without just cause. On this issue, the trade unions had promoted a general strike (April 16) which had garnered very wide consensus, while the CGIL had shown its ability to mobilize in a grandiose demonstration held in Rome on 23 March. Shortly thereafter, a profound rift would have arisen in the trade union front. If the CGIL considered the government’s renunciation of the revision of art. 18(no longer modified later) the indispensable condition for accepting the discussion on labor problems, CISL, UIL and other trade union formations were instead willing to start negotiations anyway. Two profoundly different conceptions of the function of the union were at stake, also linked to the role that the CGIL and its secretary S. Cofferati had assumed as a point of reference for a large part of the leftist militants. Thus, at the beginning of July, a commitment between the government and the social partners was signed without the CGIL, the so-called pact for Italy, which provided for tax reductions for the lowest incomes, investments for employment in the South and a extension of social safety nets.

Italy in the Early 2000's 2