Italy. The parliamentary elections that took place in the
spring dramatically changed Italy's political landscape.
More than anywhere else in Europe, the trend of traditional
parties being pushed back in favor of populist forces became
true. The former government party, the Social Democratic
Democratic Party (PD) suffered a stinging defeat and the
election was also a setback for Silvio Berlusconi's
right-wing party Forza Italia (Heja Italy).
Countryaah.com, the big winner was the populist Five Star Movement (M5S)
created by comedian Beppe Grillo, and now led by Luigi Di
Maio, a 31-year-old with no great experience in politics or
professional work. The other populist winning party became
La Lega under leader Matteo Salvini, a professional
politician who soon emerged as Italy's strong man, not least
as the party's opinion figures have increased dramatically
since the election to the detriment of the coalition partner
Five Star Movement.
The dispute between the two over the post of prime
minister was resolved by the assignment going to the
hitherto unknown university lecturer Giuseppe Conte, who has
since assumed a near-ceremonial role and who obviously has
not had any major power in the government. Instead, power
came more and more to Salvini during the year. He has, by
virtue of his office as Minister of the Interior,
concentrated on the party's core issue: immigration.
Originally the party was called Lega Nord - the Nordic
League - and had the separatism between the richer Northern
Italy and the poorer Southern Italy, mainly on the program.
At the same time as Salvini renamed the party to La La Lega,
the political message changed to become nationalist and
xenophobic. During the year, Salvini, as Minister of the
Interior, took measures against migrants and refugees, which
attracted considerable international attention. Among other
things, he prevented the large rescue ship Aquarius with
more than 600 migrants on board from entering the Italian
port. The ship was eventually received by Spain. The popular
resistance to migration was mainly aroused during the
dramatic year 2015, when about 600,000 migrants applied to
During the autumn, the government presented a budget
proposal that led to strained relations with the European
Commission. The proposed budget was rejected in Brussels,
where fears were raised about a government-financed
bankruptcy in the eurozone's third-largest economy. The
concern arose in the light of Italy's gigantic government
debt, which, according to the European Commission, is
incompatible with the Italian government's expansive
spending plans, which were based on a combination of tax
cuts and expensive social investment.
The European Commission, despite its concerns, proceeded
with caution and reached a temporary compromise with Italy
on a slightly revised budget. No drastic changes needed to
be made in a budget that included, among other things, flat
tax for the rich, citizen pay for the poor and reduced
retirement age for all. Both Brussels and Rome looked ahead
to the 2019 elections to the European Parliament. From the
EU point of view, perhaps with the budget compromise, they
would avoid appearing as a scapegoat, if the generous
pledges of the government parties to Italy's voters had been
2011 Exit democracy
In November, international financial capital forced the
abolition of democracy in the country when former Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi was deposed and replaced by
technocrat Mario Monti. The background was the global
economic crisis, in which international financial capital,
through speculation, had lost an unknown number of billions.
The financial liquidity's global liquidity was therefore
greatly weakened. Italy, where the yield on its government
bonds rose dramatically to over 7%. This forced the
Berlusconi government to resign, and the country's former
prime minister was immediately put on trial for extensive
economic crime. He had until then been protected by his
Monti's technocrat ruled Italy through 2012. Increased
taxes and social welfare, with the economy shrinking and
unemployment rising. The technocrat stated that the
country's young people should not count on getting a
permanent job, but that it was also "healthy to change from
job to job".
In April 2012, Italy signed an agreement with Libya to
limit the flow of refugees from Africa. Under Gaddafi such
agreements existed, limiting the flow of refugees out of
Libya towards Italy in particular, but with Gaddafi's fall
in 2011 the locks were removed. However, the new agreement
did not restrict the flow significantly. Every year,
thousands of Africans try to cross the Mediterranean towards
Europe and hundreds of people drown on the sea.
In July 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the judgments of
25 senior officials and police officers for their torture
and mistreatment of protesters on July 21, 2001 in Genoa.
High officials were also convicted of falsifying documents
about the events. The sentences were from 3 years and 8
months in prison to 5 years. But since there is a law to
limit the number of prisoners in Italian prisons, the
sentences are de facto reduced by 3 years, and none of the
25 convicts were therefore jailed. However, they were all
suspended from service for 5 years.
In September 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the
conviction of 22 CIA agents, a North American officer and 2
Italian intelligence officers for abducting Usama Mostafa
Hassan Nasr in Milan in March 2003 and bringing him to
Egypt, where he was subjected to torture by US friends: the
Mubarak dictatorship. The North American accused were
sentenced in absentia. The Supreme Court also ordered 5
other top Italian intelligence officers to stand trial for
their participation in the affair. They were otherwise
released in 2010 when a court of appeals in Milan had
decided that their cases could not be tried as it would
"reveal state secrets". Also in September, the European
Parliament called on all Member States to publish all
information on US rendition programs in Europe.
While police officers in Denmark cannot be convicted of
murder, in 2012 two Italian police officers were convicted
of murder in the service.
Italy conducted parliamentary elections in February 2013.
The election gave the left-wing coalition 29.5% of the vote,
while Berlusconi's right-wing coalition got 29.1%.
Furthermore, a new large protest party entered parliament
with 25.5% of the vote. The comedian Beppe Grillo's Five
Star Movement had been formed just 2 years earlier as a
right-wing protest party against the corrupt parties in
parliament and their corrupt politicians. The muddy
composition of Parliament made it exceptionally difficult to
put together a government that would have a majority in both
chambers of Congress. Left wing coalition leader Pier Luigi
Bersani tried to form government in March, but precluded
Berlusconi's right-wing coalition in advance. Instead,
Bersani tried to form a coalition with Beppe Grillo, but
even though some newly elected parliamentarians in the
protest party wanted to join, it proved impossible to
involve the protest party. A month later, Bersani resigned
as his coalition leader after a chaotic election of
president. The new leader,Enrico Letta realized that there
was no way around Berlusconi's coalition and formed in late
April consisting of the 2 major coalitions and 3 smaller
bourgeois parties. Letta herself became prime minister. The
failure to bridge from left to right was due to, among other
things, that Letta's uncle, Gianni Letta was one of
Berlusconi's closest advisers.
Despite his high age (87), Giorgio Napolitano reluctantly
opted for a second term as president in April 2013 with
73.3% of Congress votes. He thus became the first Italian
president to be elected to a second term.