In fact, if we compare the turnout percentages, it can be seen that in the twenty years 1979 – 99 the voters had gone from 85, 3 to 70, 8 % (and from 85, 7 to 69, 8 % if we also include the contribution of Italian voters to the European Union). The European elections also provided a number of other indications. First of all, the failure of that plan to simplify the party system which was an integral part of the transition to the majority: if the lists that reported seats were 11 in 1979, 13in 1989 and 14 in 1994, in 1999 they rose to 18. It was not a result deriving simply from the proportional system adopted in the Europeans, but from the increasingly urgent need for old and new political formations to measure their strength in relation to the others and therefore to assert their weight or to allow less strong groupings to make their presence visible in some way. The electoral data first of all confirmed the hegemony of Berlusconi and his movement, Forza Italia, on the center-right alignment by virtue not only of the total number of votes obtained, but of the very large personal success of Berlusconi himself who, having presented himself as leaders in all five circumscriptions, reported nearly three million preferences; they also recorded a clear percentage gap between Forza Italia and the DS,1996 and weakening the Prime Minister’s party dropped significantly below 20%. In the center-right the electoral agreement between the National Alliance and the Patto Segni proved unproductive, while the list of the radical E. Bonino obtained significant success, with the support of Pannella’s party and thanks to a drumming electoral di Berlusconi) asserted his notoriety as a European commissioner by collecting many votes even from different origins. In the center-left, the new formation of the Democrats – founded by Prodi (later called to lead the European Commission) and in which, among others, Di Pietro and the mayors of some large cities were established, subtracting votes from the PPI, such as F. Rutelli of Rome, E. Bianco of Catania, M.
On the whole, the result of the center-right exceeded that of the center-left: the alignment of government confirmed on this occasion a weakening that seemed linked to the ever new internal divisions and to a certain dissatisfaction with its political action. The electorate, with the low participation and the vote, albeit in an indecisive test, did not seem to reward either the positive indication of CA Ciampi (then Minister of the Treasury) for the office of President of the Republic, to which he had been elected with very broad consent of Parliament on 13May, nor the capacity with which the government had led, finding the support of the opposition, the country in the serious crisis of Kosovo which had seen Italy participate, in harmony with the NATO allies, in the air war against Yugoslavia (even if limiting itself mainly to support operations). A further negative signal for the center-left also came from the historic defeat suffered by the DS in Bologna where, for the first time since the war, not a mayor of the left was elected but the Polo candidate, the independent G. Guazzaloca.
In the second half of 1999 the political picture was marked in the center-right by the alignment of all the components around Berlusconi’s leadership, while in the center-left the conflictuality of a composite line-up in constant redefinition was accentuated. According to holidaysort, some forces, especially heirs of the DC and the PSI, in search of a complete political re-legitimization and the positive recovery of their tradition, denounced to public opinion the lack of fairness in ascertaining collective responsibility for the phenomena of Tangentopoli. Another open question, which was added to the still unresolved knots of the corrections to the electoral law and the pension reform, it was that of the leadership of the center-left alignment in the not distant prospect of general political consultations and the closer deadline of regional elections. The hypothesis of a possible consolidation of D’Alema’s position, heir to a tradition in which the entire alliance could not be recognized and exponent of a strong party but in evident electoral and proactive difficulties, accentuated the concerns of some political forces. Thus began a crisis with outlines that are difficult to grasp for a public opinion fatigued by the games of politics, but very clear for the forces that intended to rebalance the weights and positions in the array.In December 1999 D’Alema resigned, regaining his post for the formation of a new center-left government. The new executive gave greater weight to the Democrats who obtained the Ministry of the Interior and that of Public Works, respectively attributed to Bianco (then mayor of Catania) and W. Bordon. On Christmas Eve the government received the confidence of the Chambers with the abstention of the new formation of the Trifoglio which brought together socialists, republicans and the group linked to Cossiga.
At the end of the century many of the alternatives open by the crisis in 1992 – 93 they still appeared unresolved. The polarization of the political system was incomplete, just as the reformulation of the rules that was hoped for by many parties was not consensus. The tradition of transformism had reappeared with force and a very strong personalization of politics had been consolidated, above all thanks to the exemplary story of Berlusconi. The personalization aimed to definitively cancel that republic of parties which instead tried in every way to survive and to re-propose itself. Old and consolidated traditions continued to mix with new political practices without succeeding in obscuring the sense of the crucial passage crossed by the country, which in the opening and confrontation with Europe had found, albeit only occasionally, the ability to initiate change.