The year 2000 remains marked by an atmosphere of bitter tensions. The stark contrast between the two center-right and center-left political camps generates a systematic conflict, devoid of the possibility of confrontation and meeting between the parties, except for a few rare occasions in foreign policy. The weakening of the center left is confirmed in the regional elections of 2000 and D’Alema gives way to a government led by Amato. In the final phase of the legislature, the constitutional revision law (2001) modifies the state order in a federalist sense.
According to iamhigher.com, the 2001 elections saw the clear victory of a new broader center-right alliance, the Casa delle Libertà (CdL), of which, in addition to Forza Italia, AN, the Biancofiore – which brings together CCD and Christian Democratic United (CDU; unified since 2002 in the Union of Christian Democrats and Center, UDC) – and the Northern League, which has rejoined the center-right.
After the terrorist attacks of 11 September in New York and Washington, the government led by Berlusconi aligns the country with the United States and decides the participation of the Italy, even by sending a military contingent, in the war against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan gaining the support of the center left. While differences of views on pro-European politics emerge in the initial phase of the introduction of the single currency (which entered into force on January 1, 2002), the choice to align with the policies of G. Bush and T. Blair that culminated in the war on ‘Iraq (March 2003) arouses tensions and friction with other members of the European Union (such as France and Germany), who are more critical of Anglo-American initiatives. In 2003, after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, she was sent to the country, under a UN mandate,peace keeping, a decision that divides Italian public opinion as well as political forces.
Government plans to revive the economy, making the labor market more flexible, are met with opposition in the ranks of the union and the center-left; the tensions on the issues of work and employment are intertwined with the concerns deriving from the killing, in 2003, by the new Red Brigades, of the jurist M. Biagi, engaged in the definition of the technical aspects deriving from the changes to the labor regulations; in 1999, the labor lawyer M. D’Antona fell under the blows of terrorists for similar reasons.
Other divisions, transversal to political alignments, are manifested in the country on the subject of the regulation of medically assisted procreation between the proponents of a broader liberalization and those who instead deem it necessary to place strict limits on a widespread practice, also referring to the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Approved in 2004, the law seems to displease many, but the referendum then promoted to repeal some parts does not obtain the necessary quorum.
In 2005, the UDC is one of the major supporters of the new electoral law which combines the return to proportional representation with a majority award attributed to the winning coalition, calculated nationally for the Chamber and on a regional basis for the Senate. Membership in the coalition neutralizes the barrier placed on unrelated lists, facilitating the proliferation of small formations. On the other hand, the constitutional reform to broaden the federal nature of the state and the powers of the head of government, rejected by the referendum (2006) held in this regard, is not successful.
While the center-right government concludes its five-year term without being able to carry out structural interventions, nor to liberalize the economy, to reduce public spending, to relaunch competitiveness as it was in the assumptions of its free-market options, in anticipation of the 2006 elections a new candidacy of R. Prodi is being defined at the head of a large center-left coalition. Prodi’s plan points to the constitution of a force that unites the various reformist components (La Margherita, the new political center set up in 2002, and DS). The elections give a victory with very narrow margins to the center-left, united in the alliance called the Union (in addition to the Margherita and the DS, the radical left and other minor formations are part of it). After the election of the new President of the Republic, diessino G. Napolitano, Prodi forms the new government. In the executive there are marked divergences on many issues and the difficulties deriving from the attempt to reconcile the different political cultures represented in the government soon emerge. These difficulties re-propose the problem of the unfinished form of Italian bipolarism and the complexity of the long transition that began in the last decade of the twentieth century. The delays in politics are part of a more general process of laborious adaptation of the country to the new scenarios of European and global interdependence.
In February 2007 the government falls to the Senate on matters of foreign policy and this determines the resignation of Prodi, who is however renewed the post. A new and fatal crisis of the majority occurred at the beginning of 2008, leading to early elections characterized by new processes of aggregation in the center-left (birth of the Democratic Party-PD) and in the center-right. In April 2008, the victory of the People of Freedom, related to the Northern League and the Movement for autonomy, led to the formation of the fourth Berlusconi government.