1946 Italian institutional referendum

Last updated
Italian institutional referendum, 1946
Flag of Italy.svg
2 June 1946
(together with Constituent Assembly election)

Repubblica o Monarchia?
Republic or Monarchy?
RepublicMonarchy
Italy-Emblem.svg Lesser coat of arms of the Kingdom of Italy (1890).svg
ResponseRepublicMonarchy
Votes12,717,92310,719,284
Percentage54.3%45.7%
ResultYes check.svgY
Selected
Republic established
X mark.svgN
Not selected
Monarchy maintained
Ita referendum 19460602.svg

An institutional referendum (Italian : referendum istituzionale, or referendum sulla forma istituzionale dello Stato) [1] [2] [3] was held in Italy on 2 June 1946, [4] a key event of Italian contemporary history. Until 1946, Italy had been a kingdom ruled by the House of Savoy, kings of Italy since the Risorgimento and previously rulers of Savoy. However, Benito Mussolini imposed fascism after the 28 October 1922 March on Rome, eventually engaging Italy in World War II alongside Nazi Germany. In 1946, Italy became a republic after the results of a popular referendum. Monarchists had suspicions of fraud, but were never able to prove these. A Constituent Assembly was elected at the same time. [4]

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. In spite of not existing any Italian community in their respective national territories and of not being spoken at any level, Italian is included de jure, but not de facto, between the recognized minority languages of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both standardized Italian and other regional languages.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

House of Savoy noble family

The House of Savoy is a royal family that was established in 1003 in the historical Savoy region. Through gradual expansion, the family grew in power from ruling a small county in the Alps north-west of Italy to absolute rule of the kingdom of Sicily in 1713 to 1720. Through its junior branch, the House of Savoy-Carignano, it led the unification of Italy in 1861 and ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1861 until 1946 and, briefly, the Kingdom of Spain in the 19th century. The Savoyard kings of Italy were Victor Emmanuel II, Umberto I, Victor Emmanuel III, and Umberto II. The last monarch ruled for a few weeks before being deposed following the Constitutional Referendum of 1946, after which the Italian Republic was proclaimed.

Contents

Background

Referendum Exhibition in Genoa, Italy Genova-Euroflora 2006-stand Italia.JPG
Referendum Exhibition in Genoa, Italy

The Italian referendum was intended only to determine whether the head of state should come from a family dynasty or be elected by popular vote. Democracy was not a new concept in Italian politics. The Kingdom of Piedmont had become a constitutional monarchy with the liberalizing reforms of King Charles Albert's famous Albertine Statute in 1848. Suffrage, initially limited to select citizens, was gradually expanded; in 1911, the government of Giovanni Giolitti introduced universal suffrage for male citizens. In this period, the provisions of the Statute were often not observed, however. Instead, the elected Chamber and the Head of Government took major roles. At the beginning of the 20th century, many observers thought that, by comparison to other countries, Italy was developing in the direction of a modern democracy. Essential issues that needed to be resolved included the relationship of the Kingdom with the Roman Catholic Church.

A head of state is the public persona who officially represents the national unity and legitimacy of a sovereign state. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government. In a parliamentary system the head of state is the de jure leader of the nation, and there is a separate de facto leader, often with the title of prime minister. In contrast, a semi-presidential system has both heads of state and government as the leaders de facto of the nation.

Democracy system of government in which citizens vote directly in or elect representatives to form a governing body, sometimes called "rule of the majority"

Democracy is a system of government where the citizens exercise power by voting. In a direct democracy, the citizens as a whole form a governing body and vote directly on each issue. In a representative democracy the citizens elect representatives from among themselves. These representatives meet to form a governing body, such as a legislature. In a constitutional democracy the powers of the majority are exercised within the framework of a representative democracy, but the constitution limits the majority and protects the minority, usually through the enjoyment by all of certain individual rights, e.g. freedom of speech, or freedom of association. "Rule of the majority" is sometimes referred to as democracy. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.

Statuto Albertino

The Statuto Albertino, was the constitution that Charles Albert of Sardinia conceded to the Kingdom of Sardinia in Italy on 4 March 1848. The Statute later became the constitution of the unified Kingdom of Italy and remained in force, with changes, until 1948, although, de facto, it was mostly voided after 1922, when the premier Benito Mussolini began acting as dictator.

King Victor Emanuel III in his uniform as Marshal of Italy, 1936 Vittorio Emanuele III 1936.jpg
King Victor Emanuel III in his uniform as Marshal of Italy, 1936

A crisis arose in Italian society as a result of the First World War, social inequalities, and the consequent tension between Marxist and other left-wing parties on one side and conservative liberals on the other. This crisis led to the advent of fascism, which destroyed freedoms and civil rights and established a dictatorship, breaking the continuity of the still fragile new parliamentary tradition. The support of the ruling class and especially the monarchy was crucial for the seizure of power by Benito Mussolini. After Mussolini's March on Rome, King Victor Emmanuel III refused to sign a decree to declare a state of siege and instead asked Mussolini to form a new government. The King's decision was within his powers under the Italian constitution, but contrary to the parliamentary practices of the Italian liberal state, as the Fascist Party had only a small minority of the parliamentary deputies.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Marxism economic and sociopolitical worldview based on the works of Karl Marx

Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that views class relations and social conflict using a materialist interpretation of historical development and takes a dialectical view of social transformation. It originates from the works of 19th-century German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Fascism form of radical authoritarian nationalism

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.

After the invasion of Italy by Allied forces in 1943, Mussolini's Grand Fascist Council, with the co-operation of the King, overthrew Mussolini and established a new government headed by Marshal Pietro Badoglio. However, Germany, worried by the new government's intention to negotiate a separate peace with the Allies, invaded and occupied Northern Italy. In the Gran Sasso raid, or Operation Oak, German paratroopers rescued Mussolini from the hilltop hotel in which he had been imprisoned by the new government. Under pressure from Hitler, Mussolini then established a puppet state, the Italian Social Republic to administer the German-occupied territory, leading to Italy being split in two, each with its own government. In the north, Mussolini declared that the monarchy had been overthrown and began to establish a new republican state, with himself as Duce , but for practical purposes under the control of Karl Wolff and Rudolf Rahn. The Italian Social Republic had its seat of government in the town of Salò, so is commonly known as the Republic of Salo.

Grand Council of Fascism

The Grand Council of Fascism was the main body of Mussolini's Fascist government in Italy. A body which held and applied great power to control the institutions of government, it was created as a body of the National Fascist Party in 1923 and became a state body on 9 December 1928. The council usually met at the Palazzo Venezia, Rome, which was also the seat of head of the Italian government.

Pietro Badoglio Italian general during both World Wars and a Prime Minister of Italy

Marshal Pietro Badoglio, 1st Duke of Addis Abeba, 1st Marquess of Sabotino, was an Italian general during both World Wars and the first viceroy of Italian East Africa. With the Fall of the Fascist regime in Italy, he became Prime Minister of Italy.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Southern Italy, meanwhile, remained nominally under the control of the new legitimist government of Badoglio, continuing to operate as the Kingdom of Italy. Rome descended into chaos, as fighting erupted between Mussolini loyalists and supporters of the new government, as well as leftist opponents of fascism who emerged from hiding. The King and the Badoglio government left Rome to seek the protection of the Allied forces that occupied the South. With half of the Italian peninsula occupied by the Germans and the rest by the Allies, a return to civil rights was suspended due to the complete disorder in the country. The pre-Fascist-era parties had been formally disbanded, and so far as they still existed their activity was clandestine and limited, with no form of contact with most of the population. Consequently, the future relationships between these parties, and the balance of power, was left to be decided at a later, quieter time. However, some political forces organized the Italian Resistance, which enjoyed strong popular support, but without an election, which could not be held because of the chaotic situation, it was impossible to determine how many people that represented. Almost all of the Resistance was anti-monarchist. Nevertheless, a temporary alliance between them and the Badoglio government was created by the decision of Joseph Stalin and Palmiro Togliatti, secretary of the Italian Communist Party, to postpone the problem of the state organisation and focus all efforts on the fight against Hitler's puppet state in the North.

Italian resistance movement Italian combatant organizations opposed to Nazi Germany and Mussolini

The Italian resistance movement is an umbrella term for Italian resistance groups during World War II. It was opposed to the forces of Nazi Germany as well as their puppet state local regime, the Italian Social Republic, especially following the German military occupation of Italy between September 1943 and April 1945, though the resistance to the Fascist Italian government began even prior to World War II. The movement that rose among Italians of various social classes is also known as the Italian resistance and the Italian partisans, and the brutal conflict they took part in is referred to as the Italian Liberation War or as the Italian Civil War. The modern Italian Republic was declared to be founded on the struggle of the Resistance.

Joseph Stalin Soviet leader

Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was a Georgian revolutionary and Soviet politician. He led the Soviet Union from the mid–1920s until 1953 as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1922–1952) and Premier (1941–1953). While initially presiding over a collective leadership as first among equals, he ultimately consolidated enough power to become the country's de facto dictator by the 1930s. A communist ideologically committed to the Leninist interpretation of Marxism, Stalin helped to formalise these ideas as Marxism–Leninism, while his own policies became known as Stalinism.

Palmiro Togliatti Italian politician

Palmiro Togliatti was an Italian politician and leader of the Italian Communist Party from 1927 until his death. He was nicknamed by his supporters Il Migliore. In 1930 he became a citizen of the Soviet Union and later he had a city in the country named after him: Tolyatti.

At the end of the war, Italy was a severely damaged country, with innumerable victims, a destroyed economy, and a desperate general condition. The defeat left the country deprived of the Empire it had fought for in the past two decades and also occupied by foreign soldiers. For some years after 1945, internal, politically motivated fighting continued.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

The emergence of political forces to replace fascism could not occur until the internal conflict ended and elections could be held. After fighting had died down, a few months were needed before attention could be given to institutional matters. The first important question regarded the royal family, blamed by many for the fascist regime, the war, and the defeat.

Republican traditions in Italy traditionally hark back to the Roman Republic and the Medieval Communes, in which a wide spectrum of people took part in the business of government, but remained largely theoretical, as in the conclusion of Machiavelli's Il Principe . The struggle for a Republican Italy independent of foreign powers had been started by Giuseppe Mazzini in the 19th century. The movement Giustizia e Libertà , which continued the traditional Mazzinian ideology, was the second important force during the resistance. It posed the question of the form of the state as a fundamental precondition to developing any further agreements with the other parties. Giustizia e Libertà joined the Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale (National Liberation Committee, CLN). The various competing political factions agreed that a popular referendum would be held to determine the future choice of Head of State.

Abdication

King Umberto II Umberto II of Italy.jpg
King Umberto II

As the Allies advanced down the peninsula, it became apparent that Victor Emmanuel III was too compromised by his earlier support of Mussolini to have any further role. Accordingly, in April 1944, he turned over most of his powers to Crown Prince Umberto. When Rome was liberated on 4 June, Victor Emmanuel relinquished his remaining powers to Umberto and named him Lieutenant General of the Realm, making him the de facto regent.

However, Victor Emmanuel retained the title of king until his abdication in May 1946. Umberto then formally ascended the throne as Umberto II. It has been said[ who? ] that the abdication had been imposed by opponents, but the royal house, too, had an interest in the manoeuvre. It was convenient for the House of Savoy, in fact, to have a popular king "on stage" at that crucial moment. Umberto was more acceptable to the Italian people: he and his wife Maria José were young, elegant and cultivated, and presented a stark contrast to the old, rough Victor Emmanuel who was unknown for any particular activity, apart from his collection of coins (114,000 items). Umberto was relatively well received by the people from the moment of his crowning, even if his wife (a foreigner) was kept at some distance. He was commonly called Il Re di Maggio (the King of May), with reference to his brief rule of forty days.

Umberto's few acts[ specify ] were however generally seen[ by whom? ], post facto, as correct and responsible. He repeatedly calmed the population by declaring that he would accept the election results. He did, in the event, accept the results with magnanimity: in his final farewell speech he invited Italians to loyally serve as patriots, absolving them from their loyalty to the crown.[ citation needed ]

Maria José's internal and international relationships (she had had contacts with leftist parties and former enemies since the beginning of the war) were supposed to have been of some potential importance at the right moment. However, she was not able to produce the expected consensus around the Quirinal. Respected as the wife of an esteemed man, she was in fact the symbol of the uncertain, irresolute, ambiguous tendency of the Savoy dynasty to be open to any possibly safe compromise.[ weasel words ]

Referendum

A decree by Umberto II, issued as a General Lieutenant of the government (decreto legge luogotenenziale 25 giugno 1944, n. 151) during Ivanoe Bonomi’s time in office as Prime Minister, prescribed that a Constitutional Assembly would be organized after the war to draft a constitution and to choose an institutional form for the state.

The institutional debate was accelerated in the spring of 1946.

The political campaign for the referendum was framed by incidents, especially in northern Italy, where monarchists were attacked by both republicans and post-fascists of the Italian Social Republic. Following a second decree (decreto legge luogotenenziale 16 marzo 1946, n. 98), during the government of De Gasperi, a referendum was held on 2 June and 3 June 1946 (2 June later was named as a national holiday). The question was as simple as possible: Republic or Monarchy. South Tyrol and the areas of Trieste and Gorizia did not take part in the referendum.

Following Italian law, the results were checked by the Corte di Cassazione (the highest judicial Court at that time), as expected. A problem arose when the Court, itself divided between monarchists and republicans, provisionally declared a republican victory on 10 June, but postponing the final result to 18 June. To avoid huge dangers of political riots due to the Court's delay, the government itself illegally and without any constitutional authority declared a republic and appointed De Gasperi as the provisional Head of State on 13 June.

Results

Ballot paper used in the referendum. Scheda elettorale referendum 2 giugno 1946.jpg
Ballot paper used in the referendum.
ChoiceVotes%
Republic12,717,92354.3
Monarchy10,719,28445.7
Invalid/blank votes1,498,136
Total24,935,343100
Registered voters/turnout28,005,44989.1
Source: Official Gazzette

The table of results shows the referendum results in the different regions of Italy. The peninsula was divided, the North for the republic (with 66.2% of the votes), the South for the monarchy (with 63.8%). For example, Lombardy had far more votes with a majority for a republic, whereas Campania produced a larger majority for the status quo.

Popular vote
Republic
54.3%
Monarchy
45.7%

Aftermath

The new republican constitution was released together with a group of minor dispositions, the 13th of which prescribed that the male members of the House of Savoy must stay in perpetual exile. This disposition was abolished in October 2002, and Vittorio Emanuele, Umberto II's son, entered Italy with his family in the following December, for a short formal visit to the Pope. However, in a deal with the government, he renounced all claims to the defunct throne. Even without this to consider, Article 139 of the new constitution explicitly states that the republican form of government cannot be changed by constitutional amendment, which means that a hypothetical restoration of the monarchy would require a brand new constitution.

See also

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References

  1. http://elezionistorico.interno.it/index.php?tpel=F&dtel=02/06/1946&tpa=I&tpe=A&lev0=0&levsut0=0&es0=S&ms=S
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-03-05. Retrieved 2016-12-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. http://www.codicisimone.it/newdiz/newdiz.php?action=view&id=1011&index=H&dizionario=2
  4. 1 2 Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1047 ISBN   978-3-8329-5609-7