Italy in the Early 2000’s Part 4

In anticipation of the 2006 elections, a new candidacy of R. Prodi at the helm of a large center-left coalition (The Union) was being defined as Berlusconi’s antagonist. Prodi’s plan aimed at the gradual constitution of a force, more stable than an electoral aggregate, which would unite the various reformist components (La Margherita and DS): the new ‘democratic party’. The project emerged and continued to arouse more or less explicit reservations on the part of those in the Margherita who feared a hegemony of the DS and those, among the former Communists, feared a too pronounced loss of identity (see political parties). The party form also aroused doubts after the disappearance of its traditional forms of settlement. On the other hand, the formula of the primaries, a consultation to confirm Prodi’s candidacy as leader of the Union, was successful, with the participation of over 4 million citizens. For his part, Berlusconi had shown himself capable of neutralizing the tensions within his alliance by emerging, once again, as the unrivaled charismatic leader of the center-right.

In the second half of 2005, while the institutional, university and electoral law reforms were coming to an end in a climate of tension, public opinion was shaken for months by the revelations and controversies about bank takeovers and mergers that highlighted the intertwining, al the limit of fairness, between politics and finance, as well as a non-neutral attitude of the governor of the Bank of Italy A. Fazio, whose commitment to defend the Italian character of some banking institutions seemed to hide questionable partisan choices. Fazio, despite pressing requests, resigned only in December and immediately afterwards regulations were passed that established the term of office for the governor and took away from the Bank of Italy, attributing it to the antitrust authority, the competences in the matter of banking concentrations.

At the beginning of the new year, according to, the political scene began to be dominated by the approaching elections of 9-10 April. Berlusconi had already been in the electoral campaign for months, accentuating his presence on television screens before the start of the restrictive rules provided for by the level playing field. The polls gave the center-left an advantage, but Berlusconi did not give up, relentlessly announcing a resumption of consensus and re-proposing with great energy all the propagandistic themes (anti-communism, the fear of new taxes) that at other times they had assured him victory. The election results gave the center-left victory by less than 25,000 votes in the House, while the Senate scrapped in favor of two seats was due to the contribution of Italians voting abroad (v. Tab. 9). Forza Italia remained the first party (with 23.7 %) followed by the DS (17.5 % in the Senate) who, together with Margherita, obtained 31.3 % in the Chamber with the Ulivo list. The success of the center-left in the subsequent administrative elections (May 28-29) was more clear- cut, which confirmed the difficulties of the center-right in finding consensus for the local political class.

On April 29, F. Bertinotti (PRC) and F. Marini (La Margherita) were elected to the presidency of the Chamber and Senate respectively. On May 17, after the election of the new president of the Republic, the diessino G. Napolitano, Prodi formed the new government. Amato went to the Ministry of the Interior, T. Padoa-Schioppa to Economics, C. Mastella to Justice, Rutelli Cultural Heritage, D’Alema Foreign Affairs, who in the summer promoted a strong Italian participation in the peace contingent promoted by UN in Lebanon.

In the executive, very numerous, there were marked differences on many issues, barely tempered by the shared program of the Union. This appeared to be one of the crucial points of parliamentary activity, with a government that only had a large majority in the Chamber. Thus the path of the finance law (the instrument for regulating the innumerable commitments of the administration) appeared tiring which, in order to re-enter the European parameters by reducing the budget deficit and guaranteeing concessions to companies and social interventions, used, among other things, to increase in the tax levy on medium and high incomes. The opposition aimed at the new taxes by mobilizing the people of the center-right in a grandiose protest demonstration (2dec.) in Rome. In reality, the Berlusconi government had not contained the deficit with structural interventions, but above all it had not succeeded in liberalizing the economy, reducing public spending, relaunching competitiveness as it was in the assumptions of its liberal options. The Prodi government had the arduous task of reshaping welfare by addressing the crux of the pension system, giving certainty to precarious work and relaunching the economy. All the difficulties arising from the attempt to reconcile the different political cultures represented there emerged in the action of government. The center-right also had difficulties, a prisoner of the populist vocation of its leader and lacking an immediate capacity to renew its message. More generally, no political force seemed able to offer certainties to a country tired of the long transition following the collapse of the party system, while the need to redefine the areas of action of politics and the state in the face of cultural initiative appeared. and ideology of the Church and part of public opinion who denounced the inadequacy of the secular response to the issues posed by bioethics and by the widespread forms of heterosexual and homosexual coexistence. The country’s ability to regulate the explosion of particularisms and opposing interests and to deal with the problems of the confrontation of civilizations without giving in to intolerance and prejudices, defending not only the mechanisms, but also the values ​​of democracy, remained uncertain.

Italy in the Early 2000's 4