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New Left Review I/213, September-October 1995


Michele Salvati

The Crisis of Government in Italy

I. The Political Crisis

In the last few years Italy has undergone an unusually profound and open political crisis, which is still very far from having settled down into a largely accepted, or even moderately viable, political arrangement. The crisis had been building for a long time, but broke—this is the conventional starting point—with the opening of a judicial inquiry into a case of political corruption in Milan: the so called Mani Pulite—‘clean hands’—inquiry in February 1992. The political elections of the following April did not reveal the full extent of the change that Mani Pulite had set in motion. Although the political career of the traditional government parties’ leaders—Andreotti and Forlani for the Christian Democrats, Craxi for the Socialists—immediately came to an end, the parties themselves and their smaller centrist allies still managed to obtain a small majority in both Houses. In June Amato, a Socialist better known for his competence and technical expertise than for his commitment to party politics, was appointed head of the government and held the office for less than one year; in April 1993 he had to pass the premiership to the former Governor of the Bank of Italy, Carlo Ciampi, who was known only for his technical expertise—his political views being a matter for speculation outside the circle of his personal friends.

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