Italy. According to Countryaah, the capital of Italy is Rome. Italy has been something of an economic grief child in the EU, but at the end of February the government was able to publish figures showing that the country met almost all of the so-called convergence requirements to be able to participate in EMU. Although government debt was above 120% of GDP, the trend was falling. Therefore, in early May, the EU Council of Ministers formally approved Italy’s application for membership in EMU.
Landslides caused by heavy rain swept through several cities in the southern parts of the country in early May. By mid-May, the rescue team had found 147 dead, but 200 people were still missing. The city of Sarno was hit most severely in Campania. On May 10, a joint funeral of 95 of the victims was held here. The funeral was attended by President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro and Prime Minister Romano Prodi. The Prime Minister promised emergency aid to the affected region.
The Right Party Alleanza Nazionale (AN) held a party congress in Verona at the end of February/March. Party leader Gianfranco Fini made a speech with the party’s fascist past. He assured that the party broke its historical links to Benito Mussolini’s fascist party and emphasized that AN is now an open and modern right-wing party. The speech was met by enthusiastic applause from most of the delegates.
In early October, a government crisis occurred that marked the end of the country’s 55th government since the end of the Second World War. Prime Minister Romano Prodi did not get through his 1999 draft budget. Communist Party Rifondazione Comunista (RC) refused to support the austerity budget that Prodi and the governing alliance L’Ulivo (Olive Tree) considered necessary for Italy not to go financially weakened into EMU. The government wanted to implement savings of close to SEK 70 billion, but in recent years the austerity measures have hit hard against large sections of the population and increased resistance to new savings programs.
Romano Prodi led his center-left government for 28 months, the second longest government holding to date after the Second World War. The country’s 56th government was formed on October 21 when former Communist Massimo D’Alema, leader of the largest of the former coalition parties, Partito Democratico della Sinistra (PDS), was appointed new prime minister. The government dossier was taken from largely the same parties that were part of L’Ulivo, and some ministers were allowed to keep their posts, including Finance Minister Vicenzo Visco and Budget Minister Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faced new adversities in the courtroom and was convicted in July for corruption and for providing illegal financial support to the Socialist Party under the then party leader Benito Craxi. Craxi remained hidden in Tunisia but was sentenced in his absence to four years in prison and very high fines for his involvement in the mutiny. Berlusconi accused the court of having taken a political verdict, an attempt by the sitting left-dominated government to harm the right-wing parties.
The opening to the left was prepared by the left faction in DC through a series of reform proposals. The reforms almost never went further than the planning stage, but still met strong opposition from the Confindustria and Vatican employers’ organizations. In 1960, Tambroni sought to rule with the support of the fascists and monarchists. This led to violent anti-fascist riots, in which several hundred people were killed. DC therefore had to give up the right cooperation and had to approach PSI.
In 1963, the first center-left government was formed. It was a big disappointment to anyone who had hoped that Italy was now done with DC’s “immobilismo” (immobility). The economic decline that occurred when the “economic miracle” ended in 1963 forced the government to abandon the reforms. PSI became co-responsible for a fairly unpopular anti-inflation measure.
In the 1968 election, PSI lost 1/4 of its votes – partly to PCI and partly to the breakout party PSIUP. The first “new left” party. PCI had long supplanted PSI as Italy’s workers’ party. Not just as a voter and member party, but also in the economic organizations of the labor movement.
The new left – crisis in PCI
When the leader of PCI Togliatti died in Yalta in 1964, he left behind an important political document which was called “Togliatti’s political will”. Here, his disappointment with the development of the Soviet Union and of the world communist movement is clearly evident. This critical memorandum was published, as Togliatti himself had intended, and led to a fierce discussion in the communist movement throughout Western Europe. Togliatti’s successor, Longo, did not have the authority to prevent any contradictions in the party from breaking free. The Left, in particular Ingrao, Trentin and the group behind the journal “Il Manifesto”, emphasized the danger of a “social democratization” of the party. The “Ingraoians” set Gramsci’s concept of “historic block” against a popular front alliance, which was merely aimed at political compromises. Manifesto Groups – Pintor,
The spontaneous and powerful anti-fascist demonstrations against the Tambrony government in 1960 showed that there were major changes in the composition and consciousness of the working class. The new generation of young workers and immigrants from the south were not so bound by the traditional boundaries of the trade union’s scope. The increased political consciousness led to a growing number of Marxist journals – Quaderni Rossi, Quaderni Piacenti – and groups that developed a critical analysis of “the historical left.”
The increased standard of living, the political discussions in the old and new left, the May uprising in Paris and the “Spring in Prague” helped form the basis for the great mass movements that came in 1968-69. The student movement began as a struggle for much-needed university reforms. Institutes were occupied and new university models were discussed. In the spring of 1968 it came to local, mostly spontaneous strikes across the country, and students soon took part in workers’ struggles. The official unions were forced to accept in part the methods of the new left.
Factory councils and a delegate justice system were set up in which organized and unorganized participants participated in a straight line. This led to a change in the entire tariff negotiation system. As the fighting was waged without regard to the distinction between communist, social democratic and Catholic workers, the demand for unity between the three national organizations grew. In the “hot fall” of 1969, there were over 302 million strike hours. This not only led to significant wage increases, but above all was a fundamental attack on the capitalist organization of labor. Many leftist groups viewed the situation as potentially (possibly) revolutionary. Attention was directed to the workers in the big corporations and in the metropolitan areas of the big city. But in 1971, over half of Italy’s about 8 million industrial workers were employed in companies with less than 20 employees, and only 1 million worked in the approx. 800 companies with over 500 employees. The PCI and the trade unions felt that the fighting in the factories had to be combined with a fight for reforms that had to be carried out at parliamentary level if the power relations were to be changed for the benefit of the working class. Contradictions that only affected the factories threatened to isolate industrial workers from other parts of working class and from possible allies in the middle classes. The unions now began to negotiate directly with the government on its demands. This “pan-syndicalism” entailed a tendency to break the framework of bourgeois democracy and a break with the division of roles in which the parties lead the political and trade unions in the economic struggle.