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Comparative Democratization and Peaceful Change in by Marco Rimanelli (eds.)

By Marco Rimanelli (eds.)

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Long excluded from the political fabric by both the Liberal and Fascist states, the Church exploited Fascism’s collapse to replace the state as the country’s chief sociomoral guide, while using the DC for outright political influence. 13 Soon the Vatican-backed DC monopolized the Catholic vote and national politics. Since the resistance, the DC kept alive the difficult political cooperation among the ideologically opposed democratic components of the Politcal Immobilism, Clientelism, Collapse, and Renewal • 39 wartime anti-Fascist coalition so as to jointly promote a post-war “institutional” democratic break with Italy’s disreputable Fascist and Savoyard pasts.

But this policy, rather than destroying the fragile new state, turned into a “God-send” for the nationalist LiberalConservative rulers and Radical-Republican opposition who controlled half of the country. United behind their common anti-clericalism, the two groups could now mold the new Italy without compromising with a powerful, national Catholic party until 1913 (a paralyzing political force in France under Napoleon III in 1848–70, and a besieged rival in Bismarckian Germany in 1870–90s). The “Old Right” successfully absorbed less organized rival factions thanks to a restrictive electoral suffrage favoring the upper middle class.

5 Abroad, Italy’s economic-colonial rivalry with France and her politicomilitary fragility led her to join the Triple Alliance with Germany and 30 • Marco Rimanelli Austria-Hungary (1881–1914), while British friendship and hegemony over the Mediterranean assured Italy’s maritime and trade security as well as the opportunity to slowly expand her colonies in Africa. But by 1896–1911, domestic opposition to these new colonial conquests (Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, Libya) and the radicalization of the northern industrial working class in the radical Socialist Party exploded in widespread anti-governmental demonstrations, once strong-man Premier Francesco Crispi fell on the twin horns of the humiliating colonial disaster of Adua (which halted the conquest of Ethiopia) and the 1896 Banca Romana Scandal (which exposed nationwide patronage and political-industrial collusion).

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