Italy. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Italy is 60,461,837 people in 2020. The ruling four-party coalition in Italy was drawn during the year with severe internal power struggles. A matter of dispute was the decentralization of power to the regions. The Lega Nord government party, which is working for increased self-government for Northern Italy, threatened to leave the coalition unless a far-reaching decentralization was introduced.
The fight escalated when Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s own party Forza Italia returned to the local elections and to the European Parliament elections in June, while the other coalition parties went ahead. The three smaller parties then moved forward positions towards the larger Forza Italia. The ruling parties National Alliance and the Democratic Center Union forced Berlusconi to kick his party mate, Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti. The politically unbound Domenico Siniscalco took over as finance minister. Conflicts got worse when even the influential Umberto Bossi, former leader of Lega Nord, left the government, officially in protest against the government’s policy. However, earlier in the year he had suffered a heart attack. However, Berlusconi succeeded in balancing the parties’ wills and in doing so kept the government together.
One remission Berlusconi made to keep his fraternal party of Christian Democratic UDC satisfied was to appoint the European Minister and UDC politician Rocco Buttiglione as the new EU Commissioner. However, at the hearing in the European Parliament, the strictly Catholic Buttiglione expressed views on women and homosexuals that caused outrage among parliamentarians. Berlusconi persisted in his fight against “left fundamentalism” and refused to withdraw his candidate. EU President José Manuel Barroso supported Italy, but when it became clear that the whole new Commission would be rejected by the European Parliament because of Buttiglione, Barroso withdrew his Commission proposal and called on Italy to appoint a new Commissioner. The cool and uncontroversial Foreign Minister Franco Frattini became Berlusconi’s new choice.
In October, the Italian government again received sharp criticism from the outside world when it decided to fly hundreds of African refugees, who have made their way to the Italian island of Lampedusa, back to Libya. Nearly 800 refugees in three boats had arrived in the island a month earlier. At Lampedusa’s refugee reception, intended for 190 people, 900 refugees were crowded in September. Normally, refugees who came to the country, often in seaworthy boats with the help of human smugglers, were sent to the mainland for asylum testing. But in recent years, the flow of refugees to Italy has steadily increased, and in 2004, more than 10,000 refugees reached Italy An unknown number of people died along the way. Both within the government and among the general public in Italy there was a growing dissatisfaction with the refugee problem, and Berlusconi had earlier in the year signed an agreement with Libya’s leader Muammar al-Khadaffi on cooperation to stop the human stream. Similar agreements had previously been concluded with Albania and Tunisia. Italy also suggested that the EU should set up a kind of shelter in North Africa where the refugees could seek asylum in other countries.
Italy, who contributed to the US-led coalition in Iraq with about 3,000 soldiers, received several threats of terrorist attacks from various groups that opposed the occupation of Iraq during the year. Several Italians in Iraq were kidnapped; Special attention was paid to the removal of two Italian shoes that worked for an organization that opposed the occupation. They were released later. An Italian was killed by his kidnappers.
In April, four officials at Linate Airport in Milan were sentenced to between six and a half and eight years in prison for manslaughter and neglect in connection with the October 2001 accident when 118 people died when a SAS plane collided with another plane on the ground.
In December, Berlusconi was acquitted of bribery charges in connection with the so-called SME deal as well as of the allegations that he bribed a judge to obtain benefits from his company Fininvest. The prime minister was released in the first case for lack of evidence and in the latter for the limitation period to expire.
Italy’s labor market legislation is the most rigid in Europe and the Berlusconi government therefore declared it would implement reforms to make it easier for employers to fire and hire employees. On March 23, 2002, 1-2 million workers in Rome demonstrated against the government’s plans.
That same month, Interior Minister Claudio Scajola stated that there was evidence that the Red Brigades had resurfaced and that a government adviser had been murdered. The assassination, however, only helped to widen the gap between government and trade union movement, causing many to fear that the political violence that characterized the country in the 1970’s and 1980’s would return.
On April 16, the trade union movement brought together millions of workers for a one-day general strike – the first in two decades – against Berlusconi’s reform plans. In September and October, demonstrations against US war plans against Iraq and Berlusconi’s support for these hundreds of thousands of Italians drew.
In November, former prime minister Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years in prison for ordering the mafia to liquidate a journalist in 1979. however, his advanced age – 84 years – escaped the killer’s imprisonment.
In May 2003, Berlusconi was brought to trial in Milan for bribing judges ifbm. the sale of the food business SME in 1985. The following month, Parliament passed a law granting ministers immunity during their reign. The purpose was to prevent Berlusconi from being humiliated as a criminal when he took over the post of President of the EU on 1 July. However, the scandals did not fail. The scandal-ridden multimillionaire was a favorite in the international press, and in early July, he eyed the European Parliament by calling the president of the European Socialists – a German – a Nazi.
In December, the country was shaken by a major financial scandal when it was revealed that the food group Parmalat had been scammed for $ 14.3 billion. Euro. The Group consisted of 197 factories in 30 countries with a total of 36,000 employees – of which 4,000 are in Italy. The government intervened financially in the scandal: “to secure employment, not to save shareholders or management”. The scandal is believed to have cost 800,000 Italian shareholders 30 billion. Euro. In December to February 2004, 17 people were arrested. These include founder Calisto Tanzi, the management and executives of the consulting firm Grant Thornton, who had falsified the group’s invoices. Citigroup, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Deloitte & Touche as well as the Italian major banks were also investigated.
In December 2003, a million in Rome gathered to demonstrate against the Berlusconi government’s plan for reforming the state pension.
On January 13, 2004, the Constitutional Court declared the Immunity Act of June 2003 unconstitutional.
On June 4, 2004, US President Bush visited Italy as part of a European tour. It triggered major demonstrations in Rome under the slogan “No Bush, No War”. The demonstrations were conducted a few days after Pope Paul once again condemned the US war in Iraq. The Pope had stated that the situation in Iraq should be normalized as soon as possible with the participation of the international community and especially the UN. In December, Berlusconi was acquitted of the charges of corruption. But according to. several political observers had made the 4-year-long case against the prime minister big cut in his image.
The government coalition suffered severe defeat in the regional elections in April 2005. Berlusconi resigned but was immediately reinstated by President Carlos Ciampi. In the same month, Parliament ratified the EU treaty, which, however, subsequently fell by referendums in France and the Netherlands.
In April 2006, Berlusconi had to see himself defeated by Romano Prodi’s Olive Tree Coalition. It happened by a narrow margin, and only after demanding recount of all votes did Berlusconi acknowledge his defeat. Prodi declared in May that Italy was withdrawing all its troops from Iraq and that the whole war and occupation was a “mistake”. The US thus lost yet another support for its occupation. On the other hand, in August, Italy sent 3,000 troops to the UN peacekeeping force established in southern Lebanon following Israel’s 1½-month war against Lebanon.
In April 2006, Italy’s most wanted man, Bernardo Provenzano, was arrested on a farm in Sicily. El tratturi – the tractor he was known as on the island – was considered the head of the Sicilian mafia and had been wanted since he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the death of two judges in 1992.
Former Communist Giorgio Napolitano was elected president of the country in May 2006 with 543 votes out of 1009 possible. That same month, Romano Prodi took office as prime minister and, in addition to announcing Italy’s withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, he spoke of “the moral crisis in Italy”.