Italy in the 1990’s Part 3

Italy in the 1990's 3

According to aceinland, the presentation of the financial maneuver, which provided for 48. 000 billions between cuts and amnesty receipts, the blocking of hiring for six months in the public service and retirement pensions (this question, at the request of the President of the Republic OL Scalfaro, was then removed from the budget and included in an overall reform project of the social security system), led, in the autumn, to strong social tensions throughout the country and to a worsening of the political climate. After the breaking of the now consolidated practice that wanted to assign the presidency of one of the two Chambers to the minority (presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate, respectively, the Northern Leagueist Italy Pivetti and the exponent of Forza Italia C. Scognamiglio) and of at least some of the parliamentary commissions, the government showed little willingness to traditional dialogue with trade unions. Faced with this situation, the action of the trade unions and left-wing parties resumed momentum, engaged for months in a heated internal debate (in June S. Cofferati had been elected secretary general of the CGIL in place of B. Trentin, and the PDS secretary A. Occhetto had resigned, replaced by M. D’Alema, former coordinator of the secretariat and president of the parliamentary group in the Chamber). While the National Alliance and the Northern League, also in order to safeguard the consensus of large sectors of their electorate, showed that they did not fully share the radical nature of the government proposals, the union, interpreting widespread popular discontent, proclaimed for the October 14, a general strike against the finance company, which saw about three million people take to the streets. The subsequent protest demonstration on 12 November in Rome, with the participation of over a million people, and the proclamation of a new general strike for 2 December finally forced the government to resume negotiations with the social partners. The agreement reached on 1 December with the trade unions (the restrictions on old age pensions were canceled and the limitation of the blocking of early retirement benefits was established until the social security system was reorganized, and in any case no later than June 1995), however, did not resolve the difficulties of the executive, caught between the weakness of the lira on the financial markets and the exacerbation of Berlusconi’s judicial problems, reached in Naples, during an international conference, by a guarantee notice from the Milan Public Prosecutor for complicity in corruption, as part of an investigation into the Guardia di Finanza (November 1994).

The government crisis was decreed by the Northern League, which accused the Prime Minister of having betrayed the initial agreements on institutional reforms in a federalist sense, on the privatization of the public sector and on the liberalization of the economy. The convergence between PDS, PPI (led by R. Buttiglione since July) and Lega Nord was the prelude to the latter’s exit from the government majority and to the inevitable resignation of Berlusconi (22 December). Despite the accusations made by these against the League of having betrayed the popular will expressed in the vote of March 1994and the requests for an immediate return to the polls, President Scalfaro, reiterated the parliamentary nature of our system, entrusted the task of forming a new executive to L. Dini, former Treasury Minister in the previous cabinet. Dini obtained the confidence of the Chambers (January 1995) thanks to the formation of a composite majority including the PDS, the PPI, the Northern League, the Patto Segni, the Greens, the Network and the Democratic Alliance; Forza Italia, the National Alliance and the Christian Democratic Center abstained, while the only votes against were cast by the Communist Refoundation Party, led by F. Bertinotti. Even in anticipation of new early elections, the new government, made up exclusively of ‘technicians’ not directly belonging to political parties, was born with the intention of easing tensions between the sides and implementing a program limited to some priority objectives: par condicio was approved by the Council of Ministers in February), a new regional electoral law with a majority bonus, corrective measures on public finance and the start of the reform of the social security system. In the following months the government lost its original technical character to become an expression of the center-left majority that supported it, while Forza Italia and its allies went to the opposition by voting against the executive already in March, when Dini resorted to trust to obtain the approval of an additional economic measures (planned 20. 000 billion, of which 15. 000 new entries and 5000 of cuts in public spending); in favor of the maneuver, in addition to the forces that supported the government, a minority of the Communist Refoundation also took sides, which in June would leave the party to give life to the formation of unitary Communists. Meanwhile, already in February 1995 R. Prodi, economist, former president of IRI, former minister of industry and exponent of the PPI, had put himself forward, in a bipolar perspective, as an antagonist of Berlusconi and leader of a new center alliance. left (the Olive tree).

Italy in the 1990's 3