Italy Between the 1960’s and 1970’s Part 5
After the first regional elections in June 1970, in favor of the center-left, this political coalition could have resumed its politics with greater force, but the irremediability of the conflicts between the parties, which re-exploded on the problem of the constitution of regional councils – whether or not to accept of left-wing joints between PCI, PSIUP and PSI -, induced Rumor, in early July, to resign. A long and troubled crisis followed, resolved with the rise to the presidency of the Council of E. Colombo, Minister of the Treasury in all governments from the first Leo ministry onwards, and maximum leader, with Andreotti, of that Dorotea wing that just a few months earlier had separated from the Rumor-Piccoli group. The ministerial structure remained unchanged, while the program was aimed at preliminarily tackling a new conjunctural phase of the Italian economy (6 August 1970).
In the climate characterized by the pre-eminence of economic problems, Italy it celebrated the first centenary of unity with Rome as the capital, but without the government coalition, pressed by complex problems, finding the strength to reach a lasting unity of purpose. On 24 December 1971 – with the participation of the regional delegates – G. Leone was elected president of the Republic; the government crisis, which began on January 15 with the resignation of the Colombo government, did not allow the center-left parties to work out a concordant line. Thus, on February 17, 1972, a single-color Christian Democratic government was created, chaired by G. Andreotti. The latter did not obtain the vote of confidence in the Senate on February 26, 1972, so he resigned. Consequently, in the impossibility of giving a solution to the government crisis, President Leone dissolved Parliament, calling elections for 7 and 8 May. They gave the following results (in percentage of votes and in seats): for the Chamber: DC, 38.8%, 267 (+1); PRI, 2.9%, 14 (+5); PSDI, 5.1%, 29; PCI, 27.2%, 179 (−2); PSI, 9.6%, 61 (−1); PSIUP, 1.9%, 0; PLI, 3.9%, 21 (−10); MSI and PDIUM, 8.7%, 56 (+26); SVP, 0.5%, 3; for the Senate: DC, 38.1%, 136 (+1); PRI, 3%, 5 (+3); PSDI, 5.4%, 11; PCI and PSIUP, 28.4%, 94 (−7); PSI, 10.7%, 33 (−2); PLI, 4.4%, 8 (−8); MSI and PDIUM, 9.2%, 26 (+13); SVP, 2 seats. Hon. Andreotti, in charge of forming the new government, after trying to give life to a coalition that went from the PLI to the PSI, following the latter’s refusal in June 1972 he formed his second cabinet with the DC, the PSDI, the PLI and external support from the PRI.
According to Thefreegeography, this government, called “democratic centrality”, recorded the re-entry into the coalition of the liberal party of Malagodi, which directly assumed the Treasury department; the majority on which the ministry counted – which obtained the confidence of the Chambers in July – was very limited, given the vote against by the PSI: 18 votes in the Chamber and 4 in the Senate. The program was centered on the defense of public order, on the relaunch of the economy and on the reforms deemed mandatory, from the university to the home, from hospitals to health insurance bodies. The economic recovery was the main objective of the neo-centrist parliamentary-based government, but the intent to stimulate demand through an increase in purchasing power involved the expansion of public spending with measures (such as the implementation of increases to “super bureaucrats”) which aroused chain reactions and requests in other sectors of the public service. The consequence was a further increase in prices and the cost of living and a marked devaluation of the lira. The decision of February 1973 on the free floating of our currency gave little results (while the other EEC countries, with the exception of Great Britain and Ireland – joined the Community together with Denmark in January of that year – agreed to contain the fluctuations of their currencies against the dollar within a maximum gap of 2.25%), in order not to damage the economic recovery and to avoid speculative phenomena.
To the difficulties due to the economic crisis were added those relating to public order: the spiral of violence extended, a particular type of right-wing radicalism accentuated its threat, making Milan its epicenter, significantly undermining the credibility granted by public opinion to the government team. The attacks of the left parties were meanwhile becoming more and more decisive, especially in the aftermath of the socialist congress in Genoa (8-14 November 1972) which clarified the internal situation of the PSI: by virtue of the confluence of the currents of Nenni and De Martino a majority of 58%, while the left of Mancini and Lombardi remained in the minority. With the success of De Martino the conditions were created for the relaunch of the center-left;
The declared socialist availability was taken into consideration by the parties. In an interview with Panorama at the end of March, the Vice-President of the Council Tanassi denounced the need for a change of course, considering that the Andreotti government’s task was now over; it was therefore opportune to start bilateral negotiations with the parties of the majority and with the socialists, on specific issues such as the economy, public order, relations with the communist party. After the leader ‘s stanceSocial Democrat, even the left DC expressed its dissent towards the ministry, which – in numerous votes in the classroom, particularly on the delegated decrees of the school in the Senate – ended up in the minority thanks to the “snipers”; laws of a social nature were passed at the cost of amendments that exaggerated the expenditure initially envisaged (for pensions from 1972 to 4543 billion). To the pressure of the left was added that of the trade unions, which had followed a moderate behavior in the autumn, on the occasion of the renewal of employment contracts: the wage increases then achieved were now nullified by inflation and the precipitous increase in prices, which reduced the purchasing power, especially of the popular masses.