Italy’s population in 2015 was estimated to be around 60.6 million people, making it the fourth most populous country in the European Union. The majority of Italian citizens identify as Roman Catholic, with sizeable minorities of Muslim and other religious people also present. The Italian economy is heavily reliant on services and exports, with the sector accounting for roughly two-thirds of the country’s GDP. Other exports include agricultural products and luxury goods. Italy has strong trade ties with its European neighbours, particularly France, Germany and Spain, as well as other countries worldwide. In terms of politics, Italy is a parliamentary republic with a multi-party system. In 2015 Matteo Renzi was the Prime Minister after winning reelection in 2014. In foreign relations, Italy is a member of both the United Nations and European Union and is actively involved in international affairs such as peacekeeping operations. Relations with its European neighbours have been mostly positive but tensions remain between Italy and some countries over migration policies. See ehealthfacts for Italy in the year of 2005.
Italy. In Italy, Parliament voted during the year through political reforms that could have profound effects. On the one hand, the country was given new electoral laws aimed at giving the country more stable governments, and on the other it was decided on a constitutional change which means that the Senate – the Italian upper house – will be abolished in its current form.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Rome is the capital of Italy which is located in Southern Europe. Both of these changes were announced in early 2014 by the new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. During his first year in the office he slaughtered one of the country’s holiest cows: the labor market laws that had hitherto been a strong protection for the already employed but who were considered to close the young people out.
- Also see AbbreviationFinder.org for Italy country abbreviations, including geography, history, economy and politics.
In 2015, employment has increased in the country, but analysts have difficulty saying whether the increase is due to the new legislation or is related to the upturn in the economy that Italy has seen after several years of stagnant or negative development.
During the year, Prime Minister Renzi wrote political history when he succeeded in enforcing a constitutional reform that abolishes the Senate in the Italian Parliament. Unlike other countries with an upper house in their parliaments, Italy’s two chambers have had the same legislative power, which has meant that every bill has been bounced back and forth between the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The system has been particularly complicated when the party political majority has shifted between the chambers.
Another historic event occurred in October when the Italian senators voted for themselves. The 315 elected senators will now be replaced by 100 representatives of the country’s various regions, and the new upper house will lose its legislative power. Combined with the new electoral law, the reform would mean that future governments could rule the country for the entire five-year term without political crises. Since the abolition of the Senate in its current form implies a constitutional change, the law will be subject to a referendum in 2016.
During the year it became increasingly clear that Silvio Berlusconi’s star has fallen. According to opinion polls, Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia would today receive no more than about 12% of the vote. At the end of the year, Berlusconi showed clear signs of wanting to ally its party with the xenophobic and EU-skeptical Lega Nord, which today is led by Matteo Salvini.
However, the threat to Renzi’s government is greater from the left-wing populist Five Star Movement (M5S). During the year the movement has developed into a more traditional party and its founder, the comedian Beppe Grillo, has allowed his parliamentarians to act as ordinary politicians. Having previously communicated solely via the Internet, the former anti-politicians during the year began to take part in TV’s debates. Political analysts point out that the M5S today attracts young people on the left who are disappointed in the ruling center-left party.
During the year, a scandal erupted in Rome that led to the resignation of the city council to get the mayor to leave his post. The mayor, the surgeon Ignazio Marino, is not himself suspected of corruption, but was found not to have the capacity to deal with criminal politicians from various parties who have shot at public procurement.
The Christian Democratic Party
The leftist resistance movement, after the war, sought to maintain its influence in the public administration in Northern Italy. But both this and the end of the fascist period were slowed down by the Christian Democratic Central Government’s policy. The Christian Democratic Party, DC, led a conservative economic policy and opposed a series of important reforms. They managed to bring the labor movement into the defensive. Until the late 50’s, professional activists were often brutally suppressed. The notorious Interior Minister Scelba made frequent use of the police.
Italy’s military and economic participation in the Western alliance sphere was secured by NATO membership in 1949 and by the Treaty of Rome in 1958. At the International Conference in 1946, Italy was allowed to provisionally administer Somalia. A scheme that was extended until 1960.
DC was supported by the Catholic Church, which has traditionally been the strongest among the peasants of Northeast and Central Italy. The party eventually gained support from the city’s citizens and petty bourgeoisie, as well as parts of the working class. The Catholic labor organization ACLI and the association Goldiretti, which controlled 90% of the small farmers, were important supporters of the party. But the complex voter base created political tensions. The policy was determined by the strength of relations between the many factions, which often had strong economic interests. The largest groups had their own organizations with their own office and press. This party structure was a major cause of DC’s – and thus the government’s – extreme lack of political power.
From the late 50’s, the state’s industrial and credit institutions were expanded. By unscrupulously applying the country’s resources to its own supporters, DC succeeded in gaining loyalty in broad strata. With this so-called “clientelism”, the Christian Democrats gained both political and economic influence, which had escaped the control of elected bodies. This was called “Sottogoverno” (sub-government).
Unlike Northern Europe, the working class was consistently excluded from governments and departments after 1947. The Social Democrats (PSDI), led by Saragat, were good enough on several occasions to be government partners, but PSDI has always been a small party that has never been able to mediate class cooperation through a state policy.
PSI has had a significantly greater influence in the working class. The bourgeois parties therefore exerted a strong pressure on PSI to break the unity front with PCI. This happened only after Khrusthov’s speech at the 20th Party Congress of the SUKP and after the 1956 uprising in Hungary had led to serious crises in the Italian workers’ parties. At the PCI Congress that same year, Togliatti spoke for the first time about “the Italian path to socialism,” and he put the concept of “polycentrism” against the unity center of the international communist movement. But it turned out that PCI did not dare to come up with an independent analysis of developments in Hungary.
After the break with PCI, PSI could develop more independently. The various leftist tendencies in the party (Lelio Basso, Vittorio Foa) suffered defeat, and Pietro Nennis’s line of opening against the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats prevailed.
Rome – architecture after antiquity
In the oldest Christian town, monumental Christian basilicas, churches and bishoprics were built, often adjacent to existing luxury villas. The road between the Lateran Church (Rome Cathedral) close to the city wall and St. Peter’s Church outside the wall was the most important of the medieval city.
Other significant early churches are Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, San Paolo fuori le Mura, San Lorenzo fuori le Mura and San Sebastiano.
A pilgrim in Rome was primarily to visit these seven pilgrimage churches. During the Renaissance, the pope moved his residence from the Lateran to the Vatican.
The papal palace was extended to a pompous ruler’s residence, and large cardinal palaces shot in the 1400’s-1500’s, up along the roads to St. Peter’s Basilica, Palazzo Venezia, Palazzo della Cancelleria and Palazzo Farnese. Pope Julius 2. had Donato Bramante begin the construction of St. Peter’s from the ground in 1506 in place of the Basilica of Emperor Constantine; construction was not completed until 1612.
The Baroque is the richest period in Rome’s building history. Large streets, squares, fountains, palaces and churches were built in the 1500-1600-t. in a dramatic, lavishly space-creating building style that still characterizes the city. Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Navona, Saint Peter’s Square, San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane, Sant’Ivo and Sant’Andrea al Quirinale must be highlighted.
Late Baroque masterpieces are the Trevi Fountain (Trevi Fountain, 1762) and the Spanish Steps (1726). Recent architecture includes the Vittorio Emanuele monument near the Roman Forum (1885-1911), the symbol of Italy’s unification and of Rome as a modern, secularized capital. At this time, the city center was again moved, now from the domain of the popes back to the center of the pre-Christian city.
Wide streets (Via Nazionale and Corso Vittorio Emanuele), monumental government buildings and neighborhoods with rental properties are the hallmarks of the new capital’s early days. During fascism, it was built in an antiquated style as an expression of power and imperial grandeur, such as the EUR district (started in 1937).
It is true of the life of architecture in Rome that the ancient architectural heritage has been an inexhaustible source of inspiration both formally and ideologically. Recreating the world city of the Roman emperors was the dream of both the popes and the later secular rulers. After World War II, the city expanded with rapidly growing residential neighborhoods. A large outer ring road has been laid out as a new kind of city boundary.
Rome’s many museums include the Musei Capitolini, the archeological museums Palazzo Massimo alle Terme and Palazzo Altemps, both of which house the Museo Nazionale Romano, the Vatican Museums, Villa Borghese, Palazzo Barberini and Villa Giulia as well as Rome’s city museum and some smaller, private paintings.