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.
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 percent.
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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, Italy’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 80 percent.
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 Alitalia.
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 governments.
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 military.
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 discovered.
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 bankruptcy.
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 1765-1790).
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.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of Italy in 2008 was 59,325,118, ranking number 23 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.360% yearly, and the population density was 201.6904 people per km2.