I have a weird question for you. I've heard that politics is really weird and bad and screwed up in Italy, but I know almost nothing about it and any English sources I find are stupid and uninformative beyond saying basically 'Mussolini happened. Then he died. Then the Republic was good again. Then the President had bunga-bunga parties. Now shit sucks.' which, while probably true, isn't helpful. How would you explain Italian politics to a foreigner who doesn't know how Italian government works?
HAHAHAHA YOU’VE COME TO THE RIGHT PERSON. *rubs hands* okay so if you don’t mind I’m going to give the relatively light/crack version of the summary because otherwise I’m just gonna cry myself to sleep because Italian politics are indeed screwed up like hell.
Premise: this is not sourced because it’s late and it’s LONG. Also it’s very much summed-up and not in-depth on purpose, if you want actual long analysis/posts with sources I shall be glad to provide but this is just for bullet points purposes.
- First thing, Mussolini wasn’t actually the start of it. Also the republic is just one, and it always was bad - there was a monarchy before Mussolini.
- Anyway, let’s go in order: Italy became a united nation in 1862. 1870 if you count Rome joining in, but let’s say 1862. We had a constitutional monarchy, the Savoias. Let’s put it in the open right now: the Savoia were and are complete shitheads. Most embarrassing monarchy that Europe ever had. Gdi I feel bad even thinking about them. Anyway, the one good thing the king, Vittorio Emanuele II, had going for him, was his prime minister, aka Cavour. Sadly, Cavour died like a few months after the unification, and that was pretty much the beginning of the end.
- Anyway, from then on until WWI, we had basically a system that wanted to work like the British monarchy, except that eeeeeh lol we wish. Also it was post-unification so there was a lot of shit to work through never mind that the various PMs all had their good and bad sides, though more bad than good in most cases.
- Also, in the midst of this mess, since you weren’t a serious nation if you didn’t have a few colonies, we tried to colonize the few non-colonized nations in Africa. It was an all-around disaster. And the only expedition which was technically successful was Mussolini’s in Ethiopia, and that is like one of the most disgusting pages of our history so like, let’s just say it was a bad idea in any case because there weren’t resources and so on.
- So anyway what happens in WWI: Italy had this sorta treatise with Germany and Austria which basically said that if a war broke out they should all be allied, but Germany and Austria had both done shit behind our backs so first we stayed neutral and then we basically did another treatise with the Allied forces so we’d get territories that in theory belonged to Italy and then weren’t annexed during the independence and so on, and that was when the whole ‘Italians are backstabbers during wars’ deal started. Anyway the army wasn’t anywhere near ready (see: Caporetto. It was so bad that here when we want to say that something went catastrophically wrong we said ‘a little Caporetto happened’) but then the US joined in, the allied had more forces and we all know who won WWI and so we got our territories and so on.
- That said the situation was highly fragile for the next few years because as stated it hadn’t been a great idea, there money was scarce as usual and so on. And THAT was when Mussolini happened.
- Not going over Mussolini because I guess everyone has sources on it, but let’s just remember for kicks that: this guy pretty much demonized left-wing parties/ideologies, thought that Italians were a superior race (PPFFFFFFFFF YEAH SURE SURE) - like, Hitler was copying him, not the contrary -, started the Ethiopian colonial war that we won (because we lost the first, and I’d have rather kept on losing them tbh) and then had the genius idea of allying himself with his friend Adolf and get us into WWII ON THE AXIS SIDE JFC WHY, always on the premise that ‘ITALIANS ARE GOOD THE ITALIAN ARMY IS AWESOMECAKES!!!!’ when the only answer would have been ‘lol no’. Also he made a pact with the Catholic Church, the Patti Lateranensi, which is 100% of the reasons why the Church has some ridiculous monetary/political power today still and which would have been enough to send him straight to Hell for an eternity if he hadn’t been a dictator in the first place.
- The result was basically that until the Americans invaded Sicily (and I swear it’s one of the few times I’ll ever be grateful to Americans for invading any place gdi), we didn’t really accomplish anything except getting heroically killed during huge battles. Instance: El Alamein. Basically most of the Italians died because they fought to the last man while Germans didn’t all of the time, but anyway.
- After that, Mussolini’s successor Badoglio struck a deal with the allies without telling anyone about it (…) and so like when it was said that we had switched sides, the Germans killed a bunch of Italians whenever they could LOL GUESS WHY. And that was the definitive confirmation of the ‘Italians turn their cloak during wars hahahaha’ stereotype, but whatever.
- So we spent two years with Mussolini and the Germans in the north and the Allies in the South. They got as far as Rome before winter ‘44 but didn’t manage to go the whole way.
- Meanwhile the Savoias (who knew about the armistice) fled Rome before it and spent the war in the south protected by the Allies, hahahaha I think about the British royals staying in London during the raids and I weep.
- Now I’ve been doing this entire WWII detour because otherwise I can’t explain what happened after which is pretty much what shaped Italian politics up to that point.
- So: first thing, since the Americans/Allies liberated us and not the Russians, we ended up in their influence area, not the Russians.
- Also, the two/three years after ‘45 were basically the one time in our history where everyone agreed. And it shows because it was when the Constitution was written and I swear our Constitution is the most beautiful in the universe. If only we put it into practice. Anyway it was written by people from all the political sides, ex-partisans, right-wingers, left-wingers, communists or not and so on. It was awesome. Also, in ‘46 there was an election to decide whether to keep the monarchy or not, and women voted for the first time, and we decided we wanted a republic, and that also was awesome. Goodbye Savoia! They were exiled. Then sadly they came back some ten years ago. The guy who’d be the crown prince right now does reality shows and once sang at the Sanremo festival. And he actually got in third. Yeah, that’s not awesome at all.
Anyway, that was the premise. Got all that? Good, because now I’m actually starting to answer you.
- So, what happens after WWII? Right, cold war. On which side were we on? Riiiight, the US. What happens in this case? RIGHT, you start side-eyeing communists which translates to ‘let’s just side-eye the left wing anyway’. Yey! Basically what happens after ‘46 is that we get a new system which is a republic with two houses - senato and camera -, a PM who has quite some powers though obviously he needs the houses’ approval to get laws signed and so on, and a president of the Republic who has to supervise everything, sign laws that have the potential to be not constitutional and shit. Like, the president of the Republic should always be someone of note. And he can do other stuff like refusing to nominate a voted PM if they think they’re unfit for the role and so on.
- So after this, the situation throughout the sixties/seventies is that there’s a huuuge right-center-wing party named Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democracy, which I’ll now shorten into DC) which was the one grabbing most of the votes since as the name says, you can guess what electorate they had, the Communist party, which was left-wing, a bunch of MORE LEFT-WING PARTIES that no one except like, my parents and students and so on voted, the radicals - who at the beginning were p. cool because they were the ones starting campaigns for divorce and abortion laws, and then they became a joke but whatever. But like the basic divide was DC vs communist party. And the DC won all the time and basically tried to keep everyone content at least on paper. Well, the communists just when they got more votes than usual in the elections.
- Also since the situation here is crap, there’s corruption and people change party all the time and shit, basically from then on until the current times governments never really lasted the five years they were supposed to - you’d get one, then it’d crumble after a while because not enough support in the parliament, people would go voting again and so on. And people would get relatively scared if the communist party got 23% of the votes.
- BUUUUT, during the seventies we also had the political terrorism. It’s called years of lead and it was basically twenty years of extreme-left groups and extreme-right groups killing political opponents (but also journalists and civilians, see for example the strage di Bologna) among which former PM Aldo Moro (aka one of the few truly decent people the DC ever produced sadly). The years of lead also included contributions from the secret services (seriously there’s so much hidden shit that we don’t know about, I’m not saying it because of paranoia), mafia assassinations, corruption everywhere, people like Giulio Andreotti (who was basically the total opposite of Aldo Moro may his soul rot in hell if there is one) being in charge a ridiculous number of times, criminal organizations like the banda della Magliana having ties with the government and the Vatican and so on. Never mind that like no party was excluded from this. Tldr: CORRUPTION! CORRUPTION EVERYWHERE!
- This came to a pass at the beginning of the nineties with the Mani Pulite investigation - this had happened also after the communist party as we knew it had pretty much dissolved into a center-left party another *communist* party - spoilers: from then on, the communist party has been pretty much a joke.
- Mani pulite basically brought out to light what everyone knew already aka that DC was corrupted to the bone, and so DC dissolved, we changed the voting system so corruption would be less easy (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and some other stuff. At which you go like ‘okay so things got better then’, and I’ll answer you WE ALL WISH, because who happens now? (Spoilers: the republic was never good after Mussolini anyway, but that’s another problem.)
- MISTER BUNGA BUNGA HIMSELF aka Silvio Berlusconi may his soul rot in Hell if he ever gets there.
- Basically: this literal piece of shit, no offense to actual pieces of shit, is a businessman who says that ‘he built his empire himself’. No, he did it through a) ties with the mafia, b) CORRUPTION CORRUPTION CORRUPTION, c) MORE CORRUPTION. Back in ‘93/’94, he was on trial for CORRUPTION. And what does this motherfucker do? What everyone does to avoid going to prison: HE RUNS FOR PM!
- Now, what happens: this fucker owned a quarter of the publishers in Italy, among which Mondadori aka the most important one WHICH HE BOUGHT BECAUSE HE CORRUPTED A JUDGE LOLOLOL, three commercial TVs that were highly popular - like my grandmother and my greataunt would watch just his -, newspapers and so on. So he uses all of that media power to sell this story that since he’s a good businessman he’ll totally save the country after all the Mani pulite corruption! AND HE’LL SAVE IT FROM THE BAD COMMUNISTS!!! Yeah, because we still think communism is horrible same they do in the US when we never even had real communists around, but whaaaatever. In this mess, he also allies with a) Lega Nord aka the xenophobic racist party, b) Alleanza Nazionale which was THE CURRENT VERSION OF THE FASCIST PARTY. No one gave a shit about them until then GUESS WHAT THEY ALLY WITH HIM THEY GO TO GOVERNMENT BECAUSE HE WINS THEY GET INTO PARLIAMENT they still aren’t out. Or well, AN doesn’t exist anymore but its members are all there so. XENOPHOBES AND FASCISTS. YAY! Also, then-president Scalfaro did a fuck-up when he accepted the guy as PM - he could have avoided it since he was under trial, he didn’t, we were all fucked.
- Anyway, his first government lasted nine months because the xenophobes were idiots (for them) and left him without support. So the center-left wins the elections next round with a guy named Romano Prodi who everyone loves to hate but who’s a perfectly nice prepared guy who deserves a lot more than this country ever gave him.
- So you think ‘awesome, they’re gonna make it work, right?’
- OF COURSE NOT, because the Italian left is like pEOPLE ARGUING ALL THE FUCKING TIME never mind that there’s a dude named D’Alema who’s also a tumblr meme (srsly I can’t find his picture rn but I will tomorrow) who pretty much wanted to be at the government but didn’t run and anyway long story short the then-head of the joke of a communist party withdrew support and D’Alema went into power and clearly no one liked it.
- Of course at the next elections, which were in 2000, guess who runs again and wins? BERLUSCONI! And how does he win them? A LANDSLIDE! And what does he do for the next five years? HE RUINS EVERYTHING! (this all because of his media influence also)
- In order: he changed a bunch of laws around so his trials wouldn’t run through or he’d get absolved, fucking up a lot of shit in the meantime. His friends from AN and the xenophobic party made a new immigration law which is seriously against human rights. They made a law that pretty much forced people who wanted to get pregnant artificially to go outside the country. He fucked up our national debt because of course he put idiots in the economy ministry. He pretty much fucking RUINED EVERYTHING, and you’d think that at the next elections - still Prodi running - people would be smart, right?
- NO, because he changes the voting law to something that is literally NOT CONSTITUTIONAL so that HIS party has more chances to win. And it happens that Prodi wins but by a slight margin so he didn’t have enough votes to not risk falling if someone withdrew their support, k?
- So two years later Berlusconi buys out this other piece of shit named Mastella who’s also in ties with the camorra I think gdi I hate everything, poor Prodi didn’t get support, we go to the elections. (That was a dark time. I cried that day. Gdi it was BAD.)
- And since this country’s memory when it comes to elections and B. is worse than Dory’s in Finding Nemo, who wins those elections? YEAAAAH BERLUSCONI AGAIN MAN! (I cried again. It was the first time I went to vote. Yeaaaaaaah.)
- Side story: the Rome mayor ran against B. and obv. couldn’t be mayor anymore, so we had elections again and they managed to vote A DUDE WHO IN THE SEVENTIES WENT AROUND WITH FASCIST GROUPS TO BEAT PEOPLE WHO WALKED AROUND WITH LEFT WING NEWSPAPERS IN HAND. Imagine my happiness.
- So, B. wins again and everyone is resigned to more idiocy.
- Which happened, and then his wife sends a letter to a left-wing newspaper saying she’s divorcing him. What the hell? The hell is, two months later we find out this guy basically spent his time fucking prostitutes. AMONG WHICH *UNDERAGE* PROSTITUTES. This happens because one of them gets stopped at the police and he calls saying she should be released because she was MUBARAK’S NIECE. (I don’t even think she was Egyptian? Wait let me look her up. She’s Moroccan.) Anyway this also happened after he went to the coming of age party of this girl from Naples that everyone who didn’t like him think he was having sex with, but whatever. Turns out that this guy had sex with this Ruby girl when she was seventeen and that he has prostitutes literally coming in and out of his house every night, and that a guy who was a tv conductor on his tvs actually went and recruited high schoolers to bring there. And the bunga bunga parties was the way they dubbed his, well, parties. Apparently there was crossdressing and various kinky shit going on. I don’t even wanna know.
- Also it’s highly probable that two women ministers of his then-cabinet got in that position because they slept with him. They intercepted them complaining about how bad it felt. Ahaaaa.
- So they put him under trial but he still didn’t resign - that happened when since he was too busy having sex with teenagers our economy plummeted in concomitance with the crisis, the spread with Germany got at seriously worrying rates and then-president Giorgio Napolitano, who’s gonna go straight to Heaven without passing from Purgatory for all he’s had to suffer during his terms, put his foot down and went like ‘no dude you can’t stay there anymore NO ONE WANTS YOU EUROPE WANTS YOU OUT YOU’RE A DISGRACE JUST FUCK OFF’ and so he resigned.
- We got a new president chosen by Napolitano, Mario Monti, who is a fine economist but a horrid politician. He did some stuff that had to be done, but the support was what it was, Berlusconi obviously was like MONTI IS THE DEEEVIIIIL and blah blah blah anyway we go to the next elections.
- So you’d think ‘people will vote smart’.
- Situation: Monti wasn’t liked because of a few reforms that were necessary but not popular whatsoever. For the first time the left wing seemed not to be arguing. Then fucking Beppe Grillo arrived.
- Beppe Grillo is a former comedian who says that parties are horrible and all politicians suck. All you need to know about him is that some of his supporters are anti-vaxxers and said that ‘some vaccines caused DNA mutations’.
- But clearly since people HATE POLITICS, he got popular.
- Anyway it looked like the left wing was finally having it in the bag. FUCKING BERLUSCONI RUNS AGAIN while under trial AGAIN, for corruption AND the whole prostitution ring thing, and he goes like I’M GOING TO REMBOURSE Y’ALL THE NOT POPULAR TAX ON THE HOUSE INTRODUCED BY MONTI WITH MONEY THAT SWITZERLAND SHOULD GIVE US *ONE WEEK BEFORE THE FUCKING ELECTION*. With a letter sent mostly to old people who calmly went to the post office to get their tax refund because the way it was put, it was already a done thing.
- Guess what happens….? DRUM ROLL, left wing wins the elections BUT NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH FOR A GOVERNMENT because B. gets like 23% of the votes and Grillo 20% and the lefties were like 26% and clearly Grillo is an idiot and didn’t ally with them. GUESS WHAAAAAT the poor dude who had been head of the left coalition couldn’t form a government so another left wing party guy appointed by Napolitano formed a government that was basically half left and half right. Hahahaha. Imagine the popularity.
- Meanwhile poor Napolitano was there because these idiots couldn’t agree on a new president so they elected him for two consecutive terms - he resigned last January and we have a new one thank fuck, because the guy was seriously in dire need of going to Honolulu.
- So Enrico Letta aka the guy above forms not popular government. Meanwhile Berlusconi is condemned to social services after being sentenced for a tax evasion fraud of 700 million euros.
- And then it happens that current premier Matteo Renzi, who’s not my favorite person at all, wins the left wing party primaries, becomes party president, two months later does a congress and he’s like ‘Letta isn’t going anywhere we need a new face’ OBVIOUSLY *HIS* and so bam, Letta doesn’t have support anymore, Renzi becomes PM. And you’d think people wouldn’t vote for him at the European Elections, and I didn’t even if I always voted for his party because it was the last straw.
- Instead he wins pretty much a landslide and Grillo loses a third of his supporters thank fuck I just hope he loses all the rest before the next one.
- Anyway now we have Renzi and I don’t like him but I just hope he lasts because if we have to vote I’ll be like what the fuck I don’t know who’s the least bad options.
So, that was a ‘summary of the history of Italian politics since 1862 to us’, obviously don’t take me seriously on everything but that’s the basics. Now I’m gonna put the rest under the cut because LONG POST and I already ranted enough without the cut.