Pentapartito

   This term was used to describe the five-party coalition of the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC), the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI), the Partito Repubblicano Italiano/Italian Republican Party (PRI), the Partito Socialista Democratico Italiano/Italian Social Democratic Party (PSDI), and the Partito Liberale Italiano/Italian Liberal Party (PLI) that governed Italy between June 1981 and April 1991, with two brief interludes. Between December 1982 and September 1983, the veteran DC statesman, Amintore Fanfani, presided over a government that did not contain the PRI; between April and July 1987, Fanfani also headed a short-lived DC-only minority government. In all, there were nine separate governments that fitted the pentapartito model. The first two were formed by the PRI’s Giovanni Spadolini (July 1981–December 1982). After the first Fanfani interlude, direction of the government passed to the leader of the PSI, Bettino Craxi, who was prime minister from August 1983 to April 1987. Between 1987 and 1991, the premiership passed back into the hands of the DC. Three senior DC politicians headed administrations in the last four years of the pentapartito: Giovanni Goria was in office from July 1987 to April 1988; Ciriaco De Mita, then secretary of the DC, was in power from April 1988 to August 1989; and Giulio Andreotti, who became premier for the sixth time after the June 1989 elections, governed until April 1991, when he attempted to reshuffle the cabinet to remove the PRI’s hold on the ministry of post and telecommunications. The PRI left the government in a huff, and Andreotti reconstituted his government with representatives from the four remaining parties and with a heavy presence of ministers from the PSI.
   This account of the numerous ministerial changes underlines the most important feature of party politics during the pentapartito decade: their extreme tendentiousness. The Craxi governments were sabotaged by the DC, which feared the PSI leader’s emergence as a national figure; between July 1987 and June 1989, the PSI repaid the compliment with interest. The political instability of the pentapartito coincided with extraordinary misgovernment. The national debt expanded from approximately 60 percent of GNPin 1981 to about 100 percent in 1991; there were several years in which annual government spending exceeded tax revenues by as much as 12–14 percent of GDP. In southern Italy, the mafia’s influence grew sharply. Law and order all but broke down in regions such as Calabria and Sicily. Worst of all, these years saw the cancer of endemic corruption metastasize within the Italian body politic. Apart from Spadolini and Fanfani (who in any case belonged to an earlier, cleaner generation of politicians), most of the principal figures of the pentapartitoera were tarnished by the anticorruption and antimafia investigations of 1992–1994.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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