Italy Between the 1960’s and 1970’s Part 7
The interest of parties and public opinion was attracted by the upcoming electoral deadline of the referendum abrogating the l. 1 December 1970, n. 898, having as its object the “discipline of cases of dissolution of marriage”. For the first time in national history, recourse was made to this institution provided for by article 75 of the constitution and regulated by the law of May 1970, which substitutes the direct will of the people for that of the normal legislative body, the parliament. After successive postponements due to early elections and the overcoming of deadlines, the attempts made by the parties for an agreement on a new replacement text of the Fortuna-Baslini law that would make the referendum test fail. On March 2, the fourth Rumor government, which has just resigned,
According to Ejinhua, the campaign was harsh and controversial, and monopolized the interest of the country in a climate of tension. In order to give greater morality to the delicate sector of party financing, which was hit by scandal revelations at that time, the law was passed establishing public financing (45 billion per year, increased by 15 for each consultation), definitively approved in the Senate on April 18, with the only opposition of the Liberals. Among the parties represented in parliament, the PSDI, the PSI, the PRI, the PLI and the PCI were lined up for the maintenance of the Fortuna-Baslini law, while the DC was flanked by the national MSI-Right alone in favor of the repeal: before the compact front of the secular parties, Christian democracy found itself in a difficult position, aligned with the extreme right and obliged to defend a position that was in contrast with the secular and Risorgimento tradition of the Italian state. The percentage of voters was high: 88.1%. The victory of the “no” of the divorcees was clear: 19,093,929 votes (59.1%) against 13,188,184 votes (40.9%) collected by the anti-divorceists. DC and MSI dropped by about 6.5% compared to their 1972 political electorate. (For this and for the referendum of 11-12 June 1978, seereferendum, in this Appendix).
After the referendum parenthesis, the majority parties resumed the implementation of the program agreed upon in the formation of the government, but the problems of public order (the Brescia massacre was on 29 May) and the persistence of the economic crisis put it in serious danger survival. The impossibility of overcoming differences that arose in the cabinet on economic policy between DC and PSDI on the one hand and PSI on the other forced the Prime Minister – who had in vain sought a compromise – to finally resign (10 June 1974). But precisely because of the delicate economic moment the country was going through, the President of the Republic Leone rejected his resignation, with an unprecedented procedure from the Constituent Assembly onwards, and invited Rumor to seek clarification and agreement with the other forces of the majority. The compromise was reached, not only on economic policy but also on relations between the majority and the opposition: the proposal of “innovation” put forward by the socialists was set aside and in the speech to the chambers the prime minister spoke of “open confrontation to any positive contribution in the firm safeguarding the homogeneity and autonomous responsibility of the majority, as the basis for carrying out its own program “. A program that resumed the general lines established in March and that was faced with an increasingly difficult economic situation.
The pace of inflation and the balance of payments deficit – reads the forecast report for 1975, presented to Parliament at the end of September 1974 – were among the highest in the area of industrialized countries. The warnings raised by La Malfa now appeared in all their dramatic relevance. The underlying causes of the greater extent of the imbalances were to be found in the shortcomings of the productive structure, of foreign trade and of the public apparatus; shortcomings that have always existed, but which in the difficult international moment were accentuated. Inflationary tensions had reached an unusual intensity during 1974, with consumer prices rising by 20%. The higher the import values, while wages and the escalator were an autonomous cause of inflation. The inflationary mechanism, already in motion before the Kippur war, was accentuated by the oil crisis (80% of energy consumption in Italy consisted of oil consumption). Among the inflationary sectors of internal origin, the exceptional expansion of the Treasury’s needs was to be considered, for which in the last two years it had been provided through the creation of monetary means; the balance of payments had gone from nine hundred billion in surplus in 1972 to a deficit of over five thousand billion in 1974.
The Italian government’s commitment to tackle the economic crisis had been followed with interest by the international community: President Leone’s visit to the United States (25-29 September) ascertained a climate of clear availability towards the Italy, and the President Ford spoke of the “adequate, constructive and responsible role” of the United States in restoring the Italian economic equilibrium. On the other hand, the policy of fiscal tightening planned by the Rumor government in the summer (increase in the price of gasoline, extraordinary tax on cars and houses, increase in electricity tariffs) in order to rake in three trillion billions, had provoked decisive reactions on the left. and in the trade unions: the secretary of the Communist Party Berlinguer, in mid-July 1974.
Faced with the greater difficulties of dialogue with the trade unions and the opposition, the quadripartite was anything but compact. In mid-September, the leadership of the PSI denounced the need for “profound changes of direction in economic, social and civil policy” with a document that represented a substantial opening to the left of the very formula of government. The Social Democratic leaders at the time, assuming that with the PSI it was not possible to establish a stable government, considered the center-left exhausted and envisaged the need for early elections.