Italy. Italy's left-center government, led by Prime Minister
Romano Prodi, fell on January 24 after losing a vote in the
Senate. The government's case was preceded by Justice
Minister Clemente Mastella being forced to resign in the
middle of the month as a result of corruption suspicions
against him and his wife. Mastella's party, the Catholic
middle party UDEUR, left the nine-party coalition shortly
thereafter, which meant that the Prodi government lost its
majority in the Senate. At that stage, Prodi decided to test
the government's support in the vote of confidence in both
parliament's chambers. The government survived the vote in
the lower house, but fell to the Senate.
Countryaah reports, mid-right opposition leader Silvio Berlusconi demanded
that a new election be held, but President Giorgio
Napolitano instead asked the Senate President to form a
temporary unity government. The proposal was rejected by
Berlusconi, and Napolitano then chose to dissolve Parliament
and announce new elections until April 13 and 14. In opinion
polls, the opposition then led the government side by 10-15
In the recent election, Berlusconi's election alliance
won the Freedom House by a good margin over the left-center
coalition Democratic Party, now led by Walter Veltroni.
Freedom House won by 46 percent of the vote against 37
percent for the Democratic Party. As a result, Berlusconi
camp received 344 of the 630 seats in the lower house
against 246 seats for Veltroni. In the Senate, the
distribution of seats was 174-132. For the first time since
the Second World War, I's Communist parties did not get
seats in parliament since they were under the four-percent
block. The right-wing populist Northern League (Lega Nord)
more than doubled its mandate to a total of 85 since
receiving 8 percent of the vote. The turnout was just over
In his victory, Berlusconi pledged to cooperate with the
opposition to bring life to the country's slumbering
economy. He also pledged to rescue the bankrupt airline
Another promise from the new prime minister was to
resolve the waste management crisis that was rapidly
exacerbating in Naples. Since December 2007, the Naples were
plagued by a conflict over the city's garbage. The
Neapolitan Mafia, Camorran, checked all garbage disposal
contracts and therefore prevented the construction of new
much-needed garbage facilities. As a result, about 250,000
tonnes of waste was strewn across the city after a while.
Some Neapolitans began to burn the garbage, while protesters
clashed with riot police. The military was called in to
clear garbage from schools so the children could go there.
At the end of January, when the rotting garbage mountains
became a health risk, the EU ordered the Naples authorities
to clean up or pay a fine.
In May, Berlusconi formed a new government consisting of
21 members. The Minister of Finance became Giulio Tremonti
and the post of Foreign Minister went to Franco Frattini.
Both had held the same post in previous Berlusconi
The prime minister chose to hold his first government
meeting on May 21 in Naples, where he decided that ten new
garbage facilities would be built and guarded by the
The same month, the government tightened the penalty for
illegal immigration to up to four years in prison. Persons
sentenced to more than two years in prison for this crime
would be expelled. The decisions were based on the idea that
increased illegal immigration had led to higher crime rates.
The opposition accused the government of spreading
xenophobia and increasing ethnic tensions. A proposal by
Minister of the Interior Roberto Maroni in July to take
fingerprints on all Roma in the country with a view to
combating crime and identifying illegal immigrants was
condemned by both the EU and the Council of Europe and the
UN Children's Fund UNICEF and Amnesty International. Several
reports came during the year about attacks on Roma
neighborhoods. In August, the government ordered around
3,000 soldiers in the largest cities to monitor refugee
facilities for a six-month period,
More than 30,000 immigrants entered Italy illegally
during the year. This was 75 percent more than in 2007.
Sixty percent were expelled immediately upon being
In August, Prime Minister Berlusconi apologized to Libya
for the damage that Italy caused to the African country during
the colonial era. As compensation, the two countries signed
an investment agreement worth five billion US dollars.
That same month, Alitalia's management filed for
A riot broke out in September among immigrants in
Castelvolturno outside Naples after six Africans were shot
dead, likely by Camorran. The shootings led the government
to send 500 soldiers to the area to fight the mafia, which
according to Interior Minister Maroni responded by
"declaring war on the state".
In the wake of the international financial crisis, the
Italian economy went into recession in November, following
negative growth for two consecutive quarters. Like many
other governments in Europe, Italy launched an economic rescue
package of EUR 80 billion in the same month. This included,
among other things, tax relief for poor families, assistance
with home loans and investments in public projects, such as
roads and other infrastructure.
The Habsburg Monarchy and France's Battle for the
Hegemony in Italy, 1500–1700
The French King Louis conquered in 1499 Milan and Genoa.
Ludvig signed an agreement with Ferdinand of Spain to divide
Naples, but this division led to conflict, which in 1505
ended with victory for Ferdinand. Pope Alexander 6 and his
son Cesare Borgia took advantage of the battle between Spain
and France to his advantage, and Cesare was about to
establish a kingdom in Romagna at the expense of the Church
State when his father died in 1503. The next pope, Julius 2
(1503-1513) took up the fight against Cesare Borgia and
restored the Church State.
The new power relations gradually became dangerous for
Venice. In 1508, the pope, Louis of France, Emperor
Maximilian and Ferdinand of Spain joined forces against
Venice, and two years later they divided the territory of
Venice on the Italian mainland. The pope, through a bold
alliance policy, tried to make himself lord of Italy, but
failed, and the struggle developed into a pure test of
strength between the Habsburg monarchy and France.
The peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559 established the
dominion of the Habsburgs (Spain) over Italy. When Henry 4
took power in France, it seemed like he could become a
counterbalance to the Habsburgs, and several Italian princes
joined him. However, it was not possible to do anything
against the Habsburg field.
In 1627–1631 a new war broke out between the Habsburgs
and France. The battle revolved around the succession in
Mantova, causing Mantova to be destroyed, but the balance of
power remained the same. Nor did Cardinal Richelieu's
attempt to take advantage of Italian allies against the
Habsburgs in the Thirty Years' War.
In the power of politics at Ludvig 14's time, Italy was a
scene of war. The Spanish War of Succession (1700-1713) led
to major changes in political power relations. Ludwig's
grandson Philip of Anjou (Philip 5) was heir to the entire
Spanish monarchy, including Italy, but the emperor of
Austria claimed this legacy for his son Archduke Karl. At
the peace in Utrecht, Karl (who had meanwhile become
emperor) gained Milan, Naples and Sardinia. The power in
Italy thus shifted from Spain to Austria. At the peace of
Utrecht, a national Italian kingdom also arose under Victor
Amadeo 2 of Savoia(Savoie), who in 1720 exchanged Sicily
with Sardinia. However, the Utrecht peace did not end the
fight for Italy, on the contrary, it rallied in the first
place between Spain and Austria.
At the peace in Vienna in 1735, Don Carlos, son of Philip
5 of Spain, Sicily and Naples, and 1748 at the peace in
Aachen after the Austrian succession war, Don Filip, prince
of Spain, received Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla. In 1768,
Genoa had to sell Corsica to France, as it was no longer
able to control its population.
Italy had a peaceful period after the French Revolution
after 1748, but the country had suffered during the wars and
the administration was largely poor, although some
improvements were made by princes who followed the
principles of the enlightened monarchy (Charles 2 of Naples
in 1735– 1759 and Grand Duke Leopold of Tuscany in
French Lordship under Napoleon, 1796-1815
The French Revolution did not cause political unrest in
Italy, but the country was drawn into the wars of
revolution. The princes took part in France, and Victor
Amadeo 3 of Sardinia lost Savoia (Savoie) and Nice (Nice)
after fighting with the French as early as 1792. France also
gained dominion over the Genoa coast in 1794 following
attacks from Sardinia and Austria, which also went to attack
again in 1796. General Napoleon Bonaparte took command of
the French side and won a number of victories. Sardinia made
peace and relinquished Nice and Savoia, and Napoleon
advanced against the Austrians and struck them in several
decisive battles in 1796–1797 (Arcole and Rivoli), forcing
Austria into a ceasefire agreement in Leoben.
Napoleon showed little respect for boundaries and old
governance in Italy. From the pope, he seized, at the peace
of Tolentino in 1797, Bologna, Ferrara and Romagna. He
occupied Venice and gave it to Austria at the peace of Campo
Formio the same year. He established a democratic republic
in Genoa, the Ligurian Republic, and from Lombardia, Modena
and Romagna he established the Cisalpine Republic (1797).
In 1798, Rome was occupied by French troops. A new
coalition was formed against France, and in the fall of that
year Naples went to war. The French soon gained possession,
and the royal house had to flee from Naples, which became
the Partenopean Republic. The French were subsequently
beaten by the Austro-Russian forces under General Suvorov.
The republics of Naples, Rome and Milan disintegrated.
Napoleon then reversed the trend by surprisingly crossing
the Alps and beating the Austrians at Marengo on June 14,
1800. At the peace in Lunéville in 1801, Tuscany was made a
kingdom by the name of Etruria, and by and large the system
of Campo Formio was restored. In 1805 Napoleon was crowned
King of Italy in Milan, and he appointed Eugène Beauharnais
as Vice King.
In the war against the Third Coalition, Napoleon claimed
his dominion in Italy and, after the victory at Austerlitz,
Venice, returned from Austria at the peace in Pressburg in
1805. At the same time, Napoleon made his brother, Joseph
Bonaparte, king of Naples, and he ruled until 1808, when
Joachim Murat took over. In 1809, Napoleon took the Church
State and brought the Pope to France, a move that provoked
resentment in Italy.
When Napoleon was defeated, the Vienna Congress in 1815
decided that the old princes should regain their rights in
Italy, but some changes were nevertheless made: Sardinia got
its old territories and, moreover, Genoa; Austria got
Lombardy and Venice; Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla were made
a duchy and given to Empress Marie Louise, Napoleon's wife,
but upon her death these lands accrued to the bourbon. The
pope regained almost the entire Church State, and Ferdinand
4 became king of Sicily and Naples.