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THE FIRST SEVEN YEARS OF FORZA ITALIA

1992 February 17 - Mario Chiesa, director of a public old people's home in Milan, arrested. Milanese Judges' investigations on political corruption published ("Clean Hands" operation).

1992  April 5 - General elections: Democrazia Cristiana (Christian Democrats) scores less than 30% for the first time since 1943; Lega Nord (Northern League) gets 9% (19% in Northern Italy). The Partito Comunista Italiano (now named Democratic Party of the Left, PDS) obtains 16%, whereas it previously had a 26% consensus.

1992  May 25 - Two days after the killing of the magistrate Falcone by a Mafia commando, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, an long-standing DC notable, is elected President of the Republic.

1992  June 28 - Giuliano Amato (Italian Socialist Party, PSI), appointed Prime Minister, forms a coalition government, supported by the Socialists, the Christian Democrats and the 'lay' parties (Social Democrat Party, Italian Republican Party and Italian Liberal Party) and, for the first time since 1946, by the former Communist Party (PCI-PDS). Some independent technocrats, as former Central Bank governor general Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, appointed Ministers, in charge to prepare the reforms required by the Maastricht Treaty.

1993  April 18 - Referendum on the abolition of the electoral proportional system at the Senate (voters: 77%, in favor of abolition: 83%): three-quarters of Senators will be elected with a plurality system in single-member constituencies, the others being allocated on a proportional basis. Amato's government resigns.

1993 April 28  - Carlo Azeglio Ciampi forms a new government backed by the same coalition. The cabinet includes several technocrats indicated by the PDS.

1993  August 4 - Parliament modifies the Lower House electoral system: three-quarters of its members will be elected with a plurality system in single-member constituencies, while one quarter will be elected under the old PR.

1993  September - The Amato cabinet produces a package of measures to cut the deficit by $20 billion, that includes severe cuts in social spending, especially in health care and pensions, and disciplining of the public sector pay.

1993  June-September - First local elections after Tangentopoli ("Bribesville") scandal blows held nationwide. In general, the left wins. These results confirm the demise of the old centrist coalition (DC, PSI and the 'lay' parties): out of 221 mayors elected, only nine are DC, while the new leftist coalition led by PDS gains 103, including all of the major cities - Rome, Naples, Turin, Genoa, Venice and Palermo. Sole exception is Milan, where the Northern League candidate is elected. The moderate and center-right top parties are regionalist Northern League and nationalist MSI (Social Movement), which its leader, Gianfranco Fini, is transforming into a fully democratic, 'respectable' party of the right. However, the two cannot overcome their inherent ideological divisions and countenance cooperation.

1994  January 26: Silvio Berlusconi officially announces that he is willing to join the political arena: Forza Italia is born. In a couple of months, the new movement promotes a new moderate alliance including FI, the Christian-Democratic Center (CCD, a small party emerging from the fall of DC), Fini's MSI-National Alliance (AN) and the Lista Pannella (libertarians). The Northern League is also part of the coalition. The new center-right alliance is named "Pole of Freedom and Good Governance" or, shortly, the Freedom Pole. It faces the leftist Progressives' Alliance, including the Italian left-wing parties led by the PDS and the centrist "Pact for Italy" including the PPI, the last remnant of the old DC.


1994  March 27 - General elections: the "Freedom Pole" wins (  %). The Progressives' Alliance gets 35%, Pact for Italy scores 16%. The Freedom Pole obtains an absolute majority at the Lower House and a plurality at the Senate, where it is supported by a few centrist members. Silvio Berlusconi forms his first government. Forza Italia (113 deputies, 37 senators) becomes the major Italian party in terms of votes (21%, 8.136.135 votes).

1994  June 13 - At the European election, Forza Italia further grows to 30,6%, while the Freedom Pole's parties get 51,8% altogether. 27 Forza Italia MEPs sit in the European Parliament. Due to the second defeat in a few months, three of the Progressive' Alliance's party leaders, including PDS Achille Occhetto, resign.

1994 November 12 - The trade union congress (CGIL-CISL-UIL) organizes a grand demonstration in Rome, against the governmental pensions reform proposal, drafted without consulting the trade unions. The General Confederation of Italian Industry (Confindustria), fearing strikes, does not back the government that, therefore, has to accept the amendments proposed by the trade unions.

1994  November-December - Contrasts between the Berlusconi government and Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League, sharpen further.

1994 November 22 - While the Italian government is presiding a G8 meeting in Naples, Milanese judges announce that they have been conducting an investigation into corruption in Berlusconi's TV company. Prime Minister's image is highly discredited. Berlusconi will be fully acquitted of accuses in 2000.

1994  December 22 - After the Northern League (8,4%, but 111 deputies and 59 senators) withdraw its support, the government resigns.

1995  January 13-24 - President of the Republic, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro refuses to call for a new general election and a "technocratic" government is formed by Lamberto Dini, former Central Bank director and Treasurer in Berlusconi's government. The new government is in charge to reform pensions, in order to reduce the State deficit, and is backed by the Progressives' Alliance, by the Center (PPI) and by Northern League.

1995  February 3 - "Ulivo" ("Olive Tree"), a new center-left coalition is born. It gathers the Progressives' Alliance (PDS, Greens, PSI), PPI and Rinnovamento Italiano ("Italian Renewal"), a small moderate party founded by Lamberto Dini. The Olive Tree's model is the American Democratic Party. A part of PPI that does not accept the alliance with the former communists, forms CDU ("United Christian Democrats") and lines up with the center-right (7).

1995  April 22-23 - First regional elections with the majority system: the center-left gets 9 Regions out of 15. Although weakened by the Northern League's defection, the Freedom Pole wins in 6 Regions, including the three largest ones of the North (Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont) accounting together for the 40% of the Italian GDP. In the following months, some regional councilors from the center-right change side and goes with the center-left, which means that two more Southern Regions are controlled by the center-left.

1995  June 11 - A referendum that aims to forbid to a private entrepreneur to own more than one TV channel, is rejected by the majority of Italians (57%).

1995  August 4 - After negotiating with trade unions, a partial pension reform is passed.

1996 April 21 - General elections: Ulivo wins and PDS becomes the biggest party (21%). Lega Nord, which is not sided with any of the two coalitions, gets a stunning 10%. Ulivo obtains an absolute majority at the Lower House and a plurality at the Senate, where it is supported by Rifondazione Comunista ("Communist Re-foundation"), the radical wing of the late Communist Party. Thanks to RC's support, Romano Prodi forms his government. Forza Italia (20,6%, 7.712.149 votes) is the second largest party and draws up 117 deputies e 45 senators.

1997  April 9 - Rifondazione Comunista refuses to support the Italian military mission in Albania. The center-right decides to help the government.

1997  April 27-May 11 - Local elections: center-left mayors are re-elected in Rome, Naples and Turin. The Freedom Pole wins in Milan, where the center-left candidate and the former Northern League mayor are defeated.

1998  April 16-18 - First national congress of Forza Italian in Milan. More than 2.000 delegates are elected locally. 300.000 take part in the conclusive demonstration.

1998 May 2 - Italy, thanks to Prodi's economic policies and to a special tax ("Eurotax"), complies with the Maastricht Treaty requirements and is admitted among the founding members of the Monetary Union.

1998  October 9 - Prodi and his government resign: Rifondazione Comunista, believing that the budget proposal discriminates the lower classes, decides to withdraw its support.

1998  October 27 - Massimo D'Alema, PDS leader, forms a new executive: for the first time, a former-communist is Prime Minister. The majority gathers Ulivo and two new parties: Udeur (formed by a number of MPs who resigned from the center-right) and Comunisti Italiani ("Italian Communists"), that is a part of Rifondazione Comunista which did want to support Prodi's government.

1999 March 24-June 10 - NATO mission in Kosovo: despite Rifondazione Comunista and part of the center-left majority are against, D'Alema can send Italian troops in Kosovo thanks to the support given by the center-right opposition. Tensions between the moderate left and the radical left lead to riots, turmoil and clashes. A DS Minister's advisor is killed by extreme-leftist terrorists.

1999  May 13 - Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Treasurer in D'Alema's government, is elected President of the Republic by Ulivo and Freedom Pole.

1999 June 13 - European elections: Forza Italia obtains 25,2% and is the first Italian party, overcoming PDS (now named DS). 22 Forza Italia MEPs sit in the European Parliament.

1999  June 27 - Local elections: in Bologna, communist feud for 50 years continuously, the center-right candidate wins.

1999 December - D'Alema's government resigns after disagreement within the majority. D'Alema, however, forms a second government, backed by the same coalition.

1999  December 2 - Forza Italia enters the European People's Party (EPP), center-right federation of the European Union, despite the opposition of PPI, founding member of EPP, but allied with the center-left in Italy.

2000  February - A political alliance between the Freedom Pole and the Northern League is announced. The common program provides a federal form of the State. The Northern League officially renounces the idea of dividing Italy.

2000  February 22 - The center-left approves a law about communications with a political content. De facto, it forbids TV ads.

2000  April 16 - Regional elections: the alliance between Polo and Lega Nord ("Casa delle libertà", "Liberties Home"), conquers 9 Regions out of 15. In particular Casa delle Libertà wins everywhere in the North (Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and Veneto), Lazio and the two most developed Southern Regions (Puglia and Abruzzo). Forza Italia consolidates its being first Italian party (23,4%, 6.892.604 votes). Following DS bad result, D'Alema's government resigns and is substituted by a new center-left executive, led by Giuliano Amato.

2001 May 13 - General elections: Casa delle libertà (Polo and Lega Nord) wins over Ulivo (center-left), guided by former Rome mayor Francesco Rutelli. The center-right has an absolute majority both at the Lower House and at the Senate. Prime Minister candidate Silvio Berlusconi prepares to form his second government. Forza Italia is the first Italian party (29,5%, 10.923.146 votes) and draws up 189 deputies and 82 senators, whereas DS (second largest) to 16,6%.

 

 
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