Christian Democracy (Democrazia Cristiana, DC), the Christian democratic party of Italy, dominated government for nearly half a century until its demise amid a welter of corruption allegations in 1992-94.
As Fascism's ruin approached in the latter years of World War II, the Christian Democrats started organising post-Fascist Italy in certain competition but also for a time in coalition with the parties of the center and left. Breaking decisively with its former Communist coalition partners in May 1947, the party went on to win its greatest election victory in April 1948 with the support of the Church and the United States.
After the recovery of Moro's body in a road midway between the headquarters of the Christian Democracy and the Communist party in Rome (with a clear symbolism), the Minister of the Interior Francesco Cossiga resigned, gaining trust from the Communist party, which would later make him the first President of the Republic to be elected at the first ballot.
Having ruled the nation for over 40 years with no alternative other than the Communist party, DC members had ample opportunity to abuse their power, and undoubtedly some did.
In the 1960s scandals involved frauds such as huge illegal profits in the administration of banana import quotas, preferential allocation of purposely misprinted (and, therefore, rare) postage stamps ; president of Italy Giovanni Leone himself was forced to resign after a scandal involving Lockheed aeroplanes.
The scandal regarding the secret society P2 forced the premier Arnaldo Forlani to resign, because he had delayed the publication of an alleged member list (among which many high-ranking bureaucrats, enterpreneurs, army generals and also Silvio Berlusconi).
In 1992 an investigation was started in Milan, dubbed Mani Pulite. It uncovered endemic corruption practices at the highest levels, causing many spectacular (and sometimes controversial) arrests and resignations. After two years of mounting scandal and divisions, the party disbanded in 1994. Party treasurer Severino Citaristi became the recordman of investigations, with an impressive 72 investigations on him.
Being the party's stronghold in the Italian south, it was likely that the Mafia and dishonest politicians may try to collaborate. Of all government parties, DC was the most associated with Mafia in the popular opinion. Leaders as Antonio Gava, Vito Ciancimino, Salvo Lima and especially Giulio Andreotti were perceived by many to belong to a gray zone between simple corruption and mafia business.
In the 80s, the "Pentapartito" (five-party coalition) made up of Christian Democracy, Italian Socialist Party, Italian Socialist Democratic Party, Italian Republican Party and Italian Liberal Party was started as a government alliance. Its main aim was to keep the Italian Communist Party away from power. However, after a disappointing result in the elections of 1983 (just 34.8%), the DC was forced to cede the premiership to the powerful Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party, Bettino Craxi. Craxi stayed in office for 4 years, leading a Government where the Socialists were junior partners, with DC representatives as ministers of internal and foreign affairs. Craxi and his PSI aimed at replacing the Communists as main reformist left-wing party, but never polled more than 14% in national elections, while the PCI managed to rise to 36%. While Italy experienced continuous economic progress in these years, Italian economy was being undermined by constant devaluation of the Italian Lira (2000 lire for a u.s. dollar in 1988) and emission of excessive amounts of high-interest treasury bonds, the excessive budgetary deficit (between 1982 and 1992 Italy did build half of the deficit still plaguing her 15 years later) caused exchange rate instability and political confusion,
In the nineties, some of the politicians prosecuted during the "Mani Pulite" investigations were acquitted, sometimes however on the basis of legal formalities, or on the basis of statutory time limit rules.
Pierferdinando Casini and Clemente Mastella, representing the centre-right faction of the party (previously led by Arnaldo Forlani) decided to launch a new party called Christian Democratic Centre and to make an alliance with the new party of Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia. A leftish faction founded the Social Christians, which decided to enter in coalition with the Democratic Party of the Left.
The party's ideological sources are principally to be found in democratic and social Catholic doctrines of the 19th century (see Christian democracy), developed in France by Buchez, Lamennais and Le Play, and in Italy by Giuseppe Toniolo and Romolo Murri; in addition, the movement gained limited elements from liberal and social-democratic influences.
Of particular influence were the two Papal encyclicals, Rerum novarum (1891) of Pope Leo XIII, and Quadragesimo anno (1931) of Pope Pius XI, which were offered a basis for social and political doctrine; in economy, DC opposed the concept of cooperation to competition, and rejected Marxism's idea of conflict among social classes.
The so-called "leftist wing" of DC, originating with Dossetti, Giorgio La Pira, and Lazzati (represented by the magazine Cronache Sociali), advocated dialogue with leftist parties and gave birth to the concept of center-left, proposing governments with minority socialist participation.
|Alcide De Gasperi||July 1944 - September 1946|
|Attilio Piccioni||September 1946 - January 1949|
|Giuseppe Cappi||January-June 1949|
|Paolo Emilio Taviani||June 1949 - April 1950|
|Guido Gonella||April 1950 - September 1953|
|Alcide De Gasperi||September 1953 - June 1954|
|Amintore Fanfani||June 1954 - March 1959|
|Aldo Moro||March 1959 - January 1964|
|Mariano Rumor||January 1964 - January 1969|
|Flaminio Piccoli||January - November 1969|
|Arnaldo Forlani||November 1969 - June 1973|
|Amintore Fanfani||June 1973 - July 1975|
|Benigno Zaccagnini||July 1975 - February 1980|
|Flaminio Piccoli||February 1980 - May 1982|
|Ciriaco De Mita||May 1982 - February 1989|
|Arnaldo Forlani||February 1989 - October 1992|
|Mino Martinazzoli||October 1992 - January 1994|