Italy celebrates its 25th anniversary as a Republic on June 2 -- commemorating the day in 1946 when a referendum and a general election threw out the monarchy and established a Republican government.
Italy celebrates its 25th anniversary as a Republic on June 2 -- commemorating the day in 1946 when a referendum and a general election threw out the monarchy and established a Republican government. That election was the first for 21 Years, a period during which Benito "El Duce" Mussolini ruled with a dictator's hand. His death, and the referendum-election, heralded a turn in the tide of Italian events and set the pattern for modern Italy. VISNEWS, in this production compiled from its film library, looks back at those decisive events. The film includes Pope Pius XII, who was responsible for establishing the present close links between the Vatican and Rome which are being increasingly questioned today.
SYNOPSIS: Italy, April 1945 -- and an angry crowd mob the body of Benito "El Duce" Mussolini, the dictator who ruled his country with an iron hand for almost a quarter of a century and led it into a war from which it emerged bloody, battered and beaten. His summary execution by underground forces pointed to a turn in the tide of Italian affairs -- a tide which led to the present Republic, the 25th anniversary of which is celebrated on June the second.
Flashback to 1944 -- and a doomed attempt to salvage what was left of the Axis powers. The Germans rescued Mussolini following the Italian surrender, and Hitler helped him set up another Fascist-Republic government, this time in northern Italy. But the end was not far off.....and end which was to mean a fresh beginning for Italy.
Events followed rapidly. King Victor Emmanuel the Third formally abdicated in May 1946 after incurring the wrath of both the Italian people and the Anglo-American allies for his part in the war. His abdication, amid a growing republican fervour, was received with joy by the people.
His son, Crown Prince Umberto, succeeded him as King. The succession, however, was a mere formality of taking the title -- his father had passed on all powers to him two years earlier, the day after the allies marched into Rome. But the tide was against the monarch -- Umberto had only 35 days in which to reign.
The pattern for modern Italy was beginning to emerge. Elections and a referendum were simultaneously held on June the second -- the day Italians celebrate each year, for as a result of these elections the monarchy was abolished and a Republic eventually proclaimed. A joint Socialist-Communist government was elected, with Christian Democrats running a close second. Much the same party power pattern exists in Italy today. The 1946 election, meanwhile, was the first free poll for over 20 years, and set the pattern for continuing democracy with power alternating between the various left wings and the anti-communist Christian Democrat Party.
Pope Pius the Twelfth, who kept the Vatican neutral during the war, was responsible -- as a Cardinal -- for drawing up the Concordat agreement governing relations between the vatican and the Italian government. Today, as Italy celebrates its 25th anniversary, his Concordat is under revision -- after playing an influential part in the modern Republic.