History of the Italian Republic

20th and 21st century history of Italy / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The history of the Italian Republic concerns the events relating to the history of Italy that have occurred since 1946, when Italy became a republic. The Italian republican history is generally divided into two phases, the First and Second Republic.

After the fall of the Fascist regime in Italy and the end of World War II, Italian politics and society were dominated by Christian Democracy (DC), a broad-based Christian political party, from 1946 to 1994. From the late 1940s until 1991, the opposition was led by the Italian Communist Party (PCI). Christian Democracy governed uninterrupted during this period, dominating every cabinet and providing nearly every Prime Minister. It governed primarily with the support of an array of minor parties from the centre-left to the centre-right, including the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), Italian Democratic Socialist Party (PSDI), Italian Republican Party (PRI), and Italian Liberal Party (PLI), and even far-right parties like the Italian Social Movement (MSI). The Communist Party was excluded entirely from government, with the partial exception of the short-lived Historic Compromise, in which the PCI provided external support to a DC minority government from 1976 to 1979.

The political situation was radically transformed in the early 1990s due to two major shocks: the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the wide-reaching Tangentopoli corruption scandal from 1992 to 1994. The former caused the dissolution and split of the PCI and splintering of the opposition, while the latter led to the collapse of nearly every established political party in Italy, including Christian Democracy, the PSI, PSDI, PRI, PLI, and others. Anti-establishment sentiment resulted in a 1993 referendum enabling the reform of the electoral system from pure proportional representation to a majoritarian-leaning mixed system.

Media magnate Silvio Berlusconi entered politics with his conservative Forza Italia party and won the 1994 general election, forming the short-lived Berlusconi I Cabinet. He went on to become one of Italy's most important figures over the next two decades, serving as Prime Minister again from 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. The rise of the new conservative right saw the old centre and left consolidate into the Olive Tree coalition, comprising the post-Communist Democrats of the Left and Christian democratic The Daisy, which together founded the Democratic Party (PD) in 2007. They competed against Berlusconi's centre-right coalition, comprising Forza Italia, the right-wing National Alliance, and northern Italian regionalist Northern League.

The collapse of Berlusconi's fourth cabinet in 2011 resulted in the formation of the technocratic Monti Cabinet until 2013. Enduring dissatisfaction saw the rise of the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the Northern League (rebranded League, Lega). After the Italian general elections of 2013 and 2018, grand coalition governments were formed, this time with the participation of populist parties. The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic issues brought about a government of national unity led by Mario Draghi, the former president of the European Central Bank.