Resistance fighters kill Mussolini. The German army in Italy surrenders. Christian Democrat Alcide De Gasperi becomes prime minister. A plebiscite makes Italy a republic. A Constituent Assembly is elected under a new system of proportional representation. King Umberto is exiled, Enrico De Nicola becomes provisional president, and De Gasperi builds a coalition with the Socialists and Communists.
A peace treaty establishes Italy's borders and reparations payments. Under pressure from the United States and the Church, Prime Minister De Gasperi forms a new Christian Democrat government that excludes the Communists. A new republican constitution goes into effect in 1948, with a weak executive and a bicameral parliament. Luigi Einaudi is elected president for a seven-year term.
Italy joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and becomes a founding member of the Council of Europe. Successive administrations led by Christian Democrat Prime Minister De Gasperi rely on support from more and more right-of-center Socialists and Liberals. Left-wing parties in the governing coalitions become increasingly dissatisfied with the government's internal policy.
The Socialists split into the left-wing majority Socialists and the right-wing minority Social Democrats, enabling the Christian Democrats to maintain power at the head of successive coalition governments. Italy is admitted to the United Nations. Giovanni Gronchi succeeds Einaudi as president. The new liberalism of the Vatican under Pope John XXIII facilitates a gradual shift to the left.
During a brief premiership, Fernando Tambroni attempts in vain to find a new right-wing coalition by drawing on monarchists and neo-fascists. He is rapidly succeeded by Christian Democrat Amintore Fanfani, whose move to the left in his coalition government costs him the support of his own party. Fanfani stands down at the end of 1962.
Christian Democrat Aldo Moro replaces Fanfani as prime minister and resumes his shift to the left. His alliance with the Socialist Party is strained. Both parties are divided. Social Democrat Giuseppe Saragat is elected president. In 1968 Christian Democrat Mariano Rumor forms a short-lived center-left coalition. The Communist Party breaks with Moscow after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Christian Democrat Emilio Colombo replaces Rumor as premier. A law creating new regional assemblies begins devolution of power to Italy's regions. Christian Democrat Giovanni Leone is elected president. With the economy in recession and workers demanding social reforms, Colombo resigns, and Parliament dissolves. Giulio Andreotti, also a Christian Democrat, forms a center-right government.
A series of governments, beginning with Prime Minister Andreotti's and ending with Aldo Moro's, prove unable to deal with economic decline, political corruption, or lawlessness. In 1975 the Communists make landslide gains in local elections.
Prime Minister Moro's government resigns when the Socialists withdraw their support. The Communists increase their share of the vote and propose the "historic compromise": a coalition of the Christian Democrats, Socialists, and Communists. When the Christian Democrats reject the proposal, the Communists join the organized opposition. Andreotti returns to form a Christian Democratic government.
Sandro Pertini is elected president in 1977. Andreotti remains in power as premier through 1979. Dissatisfaction with political chaos prompts greater Communist participation in politics. The Socialists return in 1980 to share power with the Christian Democrats and Republicans until the following year, when the Christian Democrats relinquish the premiership to Republican Giovanni Spadolini.
The leader of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), Bettino Craxi, becomes the first Socialist prime minister, leading a broad-based coalition government. Craxi is a strong premier who remains in office longer than any of his recent predecessors. Francesco Cossiga is elected president in 1985. Craxi rules over a period of strong economic growth, but resigns in 1987 under allegations of corruption.
After two short-lived coalition governments, Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti takes office at the head of a coalition of Christian Democrats, Socialists, and minor parties. After the Berlin Wall falls in 1989, the Italian Communist Party, no longer a part of mainstream politics, changes its name to the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS). Provincial governments are granted greater authority.
Christian Democrats and Socialists suffer setbacks in elections, exacerbated by investigations into political corruption. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro is elected president, and Socialist Giuliano Amato is named premier. Amato forms a government of tecnici, or technocrats, which carries through major monetary and economic reforms. Shaken by corruption allegations, his government survives only one year.
Prime Minister Amato resigns amid public discontent over illicit political funding. In a referendum, a majority of Italians favor a new majority electoral system and cleaner democracy. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, former head of the Bank of Italy, forms a new administration of tecnici. Constitutional reforms introduce a new majority electoral system, and Italy enters its Second Republic.
Prime Minister Ciampi resigns. New parties form, but the new electoral system leads to the emergence of two coalitions of the center-left and center-right. The latter, led by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, gains a majority in parliament. Berlusconi becomes premier, but his coalition soon disintegrates amid fears that his business interests may affect his political decisions.
President Scalfaro directs Treasury Minister Lamberto Dini to lead a new tecnici government, supported by the center-left. Opposed by Forza Italia, Dini soon agrees to step down. In preparation for the 1996 national elections, the center-left parties create the Olive Tree coalition, or Ulivo, led by economist Romano Prodi, while the center-right unites under the Freedom Pole coalition.
Romano Prodi's Ulivo coalition forms the first left-leaning government since World War II. Ulivo gains support from the far left in exchange for labor and pension reforms. A constitutional reform commission proposes the introduction of direct election of the president. Upheaval over austerity measures put in place in preparation for the European Monetary Union (EMU) leads Prodi to resign.
Massimo D'Alema of the PDS becomes premier of a coalition government of seven parties, and Parliament names former Prime Minister Ciampi president. Prodi goes on to become president of the European Commission. D'Alema resigns in 2000 following a poor showing by his coalition in regional elections. Former Prime Minister Amato returns as premier, heading a reshuffled, center-left Cabinet.
National elections return Berlusconi to power at the head of a center-right alliance with majorities in both houses of parliament. Conflict-of-interest accusations surround his ownership of the three main private television channels. Relations with European Union partners are poor and made tense by Italian support, and French and Germany opposition to, U.S. plans for a war with Iraq.
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