The Crisis of the Italy Political System Part 2

According to timedictionary, the 45th Congress of the PSI, held in Milan from 13 to 19 May 1989, did not spare the attacks on De Mita. On the 19th the Prime Minister submitted his resignation; on 13 June he was re-appointed, but on 6 July he had to resign. On July 9, Cossiga entrusted the task to Andreotti who on the 23rd will form the new five-party government. The two months of crisis demonstrated the immutability of the government formula and seemed to confirm the functioning of the alliance between Craxi, Andreotti and Forlani that the political reporters had summarized in the initials CAF.

During the Andreotti government, two important laws with a social content were passed. The first, promoted by decree by the vice-president of the council, the socialist C. Martelli, in December 1989, aimed at regularizing the position of the numerous immigrants from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe (the so-called non-EU citizens) residing illegally in our country and to define subsequent immigration flows. The measure was solicited by the estimated presence of around 800-900,000 people, of which just over 100,000 in good standing. The numerous episodes of racist intolerance, sometimes accompanied by even serious violence, made it essential to have planned protection by the state. However, the Martelli decree did not find the unanimous consent of the governing coalition and at the moment of its transformation into law the republicans voted against, while the communists voted in favor. If the Martelli law was appreciated on the left, strong opposition aroused instead the new drug law (urged in the first place by Craxi, promoted by the ministers R. Jervolino Russo and G. Vassalli and approved in June 1990) which, while extending the role of community for the rehabilitation of drug addicts introduced sanctions, first administrative and then criminal, even for consumers only.

In the programs, the Andreotti government’s commitment to the reorganization of public finance must have been relevant, a commitment entrusted to the presence of G. Carli, former governor of the Bank of Italy and former president of Confindustria, at the Treasury Ministry. In this context, the entry of the lira into the narrow range of fluctuation of the European monetary system decided in January 1990 also to make a policy of rigor unavoidable, both within and with respect to international partners. But the intentions, guaranteed by the prestige of our best-known politicians, were proven wrong and the deficit continued to rise.

Particularly lively continued to be the discussion on the regulation of television broadcasting and on the balance to be established between Rai and the private television sector, dominated by the three networks of the Milanese entrepreneur S. Berlusconi. On July 27, 1990, the five ministers of the Christian Democratic left, who had resigned the day before due to differences with the PSI – supporter of Berlusconi’s positions – and the government’s decision to place confidence in the television measures, were promptly replaced with a very quick reshuffle. The law will be definitively approved in August, confirming the substantial duopoly between RAI and Berlusconi.

Foreign policy was dominated at that time by Middle Eastern issues and the UN response to Iraqi aggression on Kuwait (see the Gulf War, in this Appendix). The government decided, after some hesitation deriving from the pacifist positions of some Catholic circles, to use the air and naval units – present in the Arabian Gulf since September 1990 – in the war operations against the ῾Irāq launched, under the aegis of the UN, the United States and the allies on the night of January 16-17, 1991. Parliament approved with a large majority on the 17th, and on the 18th Italian planes began to participate in the bombing of Irāq. During one of the first missions a Tornado Italian was shot down. It was the first time, after the Second World War, that the country was involved, albeit to a very limited extent, in a war affair: and the fate of the two pilots, prisoners of the Iraqis and freed at the end of the conflict, kept us anxious, under the mass media pressure, the whole nation.

It was not only international problems that kept the political debate alive in Italy. From the end of 1989 the question of the transformation of the PCI had opened and from the autumn of 1990 the interventions of the President of the Republic Cossiga began to dominate the scene.

On November 12, 1989 A. Occhetto, secretary of the PCI since June 1988, announced his intention to change the name of the party and to start building a new political force. Around this initiative, approved by the majority, lacerating rifts will open in the PCI and in the Italian left. When, after a long and tiring debate, the new party emerges (February 3, 1991), called the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), it will be deprived of the large new aggregations it had aimed at, it will be weakened both by the opposition of those, hostile to the new line, they wanted to continue inside the struggle in defense of the old name, the old symbols and the tradition of Italian communism, both from the splitting of a part of the militants who will give life to the Communist Refoundation Movement.

The Crisis of the Italy Political System 2