Italy. The year began to be problematic for the Italians when demand for the euro, which at the turn of the year replaced the lira, was significantly higher than the supply. Long queues of annoyed customers rang outside the banks. The introduction of the euro also triggered a government crisis. Just a few days later, the EU-friendly and internationally respected Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero resigned. He no longer considered himself to have Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s support for his EU policy.
According to Countryaah website, national day of Italy is every June 2. Ruggiero’s departure was a loss of prestige for Berlusconi, who chose to temporarily take over the post of foreign minister. Worst, however, did not become Berlusconi’s time as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only in November did he hand over the post to the former Minister of Civil Affairs Franco Frattini.
|Gross domestic product (GDP)||2,317,000,000,000 USD|
|GDP growth rate||1.50%|
|GDP per capita||$ 38,200|
|GDP by sector|
|Proportion of the population below the national poverty line||29.9%|
|Distribution of household income|
|Industrial production growth rate||0.80%|
|Investment volume||18.9% of GDP|
|National debt||131.80% of GDP|
|Foreign exchange reserves||$ 136,000,000,000|
|Number of visitors||48,576,000|
The media magnate Berlusconi’s ability to keep apart his private business interests and his political responsibilities was questioned by the opposition. Great anger was aroused when Parliament in the autumn approved a new law that the opposition thought was tailor-made to save the prime minister from a pending bribery trial. The law gave the right to a new trial if there were reasons to “suspect the judges were not impartial”. Berlusconi had previously managed to avoid litigation by delaying them until the limitation period expired. The opposition feared that the Prime Minister would once again escape a judicial process.
Berlusconi, owner of Italy’s largest private ethereal media company Mediaset, was also accused by the opposition of trying to take control of state-owned television RAI by directing the appointment of a new board. Opposition anger increased when the new RAI board later gave a company with ties to Berlusconi the task of conducting TV opinion polls. RAI journalists protested when two news anchors criticized by Berlusconi were dismissed.
The government’s efforts to reduce unemployment through changes in labor law brought millions of Italians together for major demonstrations and general strikes during the year. The trade unions were upset when the Ministry of Labor wanted to make it easier for employers to dismiss new employees. Italy was shaken when Marco Biagi, adviser to the Ministry of Labor and architect behind the reforms, was shot dead in Bologna on March 19. The left-wing group of Red Brigades took on the blame and stated that Biagi’s reform proposal was the motive for the murder.
Three months later, Interior Minister Claudio Scojola was forced to resign after he aroused public anger with a derogatory statement about the murdered Marco Biagi.
During the year, several suspected members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network were arrested in Italy The police believed that Milan was an important base for the network’s European branch. In February, a suspected al-Qaeda leader in Europe was sentenced to five years in prison. On February 7, the entire CAA board was dismissed for failing to investigate the plane crash at Linate Airport in Milan in October 2001, when a SAS plane collided with a German Cessna plane and killed 118 people.
Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti, seven-time prime minister, was sentenced in the fall to 24 years in prison for ordering the murder of a journalist in 1979, who was revealing Andreotti’s conspiracy with the mafia.
At the end of October, 26 schoolchildren and three adults were killed when a school was destroyed in an earthquake in the village of San Giuliano di Puglia in southern Italy.
Black terror – “strategia della tensione”
The mass radicalization in the late 60’s was answered with the “strategia della tensione” – the well-known strategy of the fascists. At Milan’s Piazza Fontana, 16 people were killed and a hundred injured in a bomb attack on December 12, 1969. This was the beginning of a series of acts of violence and of the witch-hunt of so-called left-wing extremists. Law and order instinct was mobilized. Only some groups from the new left – i. Lotta Continua – immediately went to counter-attack. They eventually revealed what was called “La strage di stato”. It was only later that it was publicly acknowledged that the assassination in Milan was a plot of the most reactionary parts of the state apparatus, namely the Ministry of the Interior and the intelligence service. Former intelligence chief Miceli was arrested in 1974.
The 1972 election was a victory for the right wing in DC and for the neo-fascist party, MSI. The working class was made responsible for the increasing financial problems as it did not relinquish continued offensive struggle in the factories. The fascist propaganda set the unemployed and underemployed – especially in southern Italy – against the workers of the big companies in the north. A popular right-wing uprising in Reggio Calabria in 1971-72 became a symbol of this serious labor movement crisis.
The historical compromise
Fearing a fascist development in Italy and following the bloody defeat of the Unidad Popular experiment in Chile, PCI leader Enrico Berlinguer launched in 1973 the “historic compromise” – a strategy for government cooperation between the Christian Democrats and the Communists. In the 70’s, this was the major topic of war on the left in Italy. The left wing line for a left government was rejected by PCI. With 51% of the electorate behind them, frontal attacks on the Christian Democrats, which continued to support about 40% of the people, could not be made. But the notion that it would be possible, through cooperation with DC, to overcome the problems that were not least due to the long-standing rule of the Christian Democrats, was also rejected by the critics on the left.
PCI made great progress in the local elections in 1975 and the parliamentary elections in 1976, when the party gained 1/3 of the vote. The Democrazia Proletaria constituency consisting of PdUP, Avanguardia Operaia and Lotta Continua got 1.5%. The groups to the left of PCI were crippled by internal disputes with constant divisions and new rallies. The PdUP was formed by the Manifesto Group and part of the PSIUP. In 1978, a majority in Avanguardia Operaia and a minority in PdUP joined the DP party.
On the far left there was a continued radicalization and inspired by the Palestinian armed struggle for liberation and a similar development in other European countries was formed in the early 70’s Brigate Rosse (the Red Brigades). The movement mainly benefited from abductions, but also attacks where the victims were shot in the knees were widespread. The attacks were directed not only at right-wing people, but also at left-wingers who advocated for the historic compromise. The Red Brigaders’ most spectacular action was the abduction of 78 by the country’s prime minister, Aldo Moro. Ultimately, DC refused to negotiate for Aldo Moro’s life, and he was killed by the brigade. The action also showed that the brigade had closed inside a dead end and marked a steep decline in the movement’s activities.
An important reason for the political influence of PCI was the organizational strength of the party. The number of members increased during the period 1974-76 by over 150,000 to approx. 1.8 million. PCI was traditionally strongest in the so-called “red belt” in Central Italy – the area from Bologna to a little north of Rome – but weaker in the highly industrialized north and the poor south. In its strong areas, PCI represented a subculture that dominated local politics, social conditions and to a large extent also the economy. Throughout the post-war period, the Communists have been on several important local administrations. The classic example of this is Bologna.
In 2008, it was revealed that NATO was preparing a coup in Italy if the PCI had won power in the country in the mid-1970’s. Italian democracy was enough for the right wing to have power.