term which translates, roughly, into Kick Back
City. It now refers to a series of scandals
which occurred in Italy
between 1992-1994, but are still reverberating through out the country (and continue to plague the current Prime Minister
, Silvio Berlusconi
. They led to the complete collapse of the government
, almost destroyed the constitution
of the country and spelled the end of Christian Democrat Party
) who had controlled politics in Italy
It started with a simple arrest of low-level official in Milan, Mario Chiesa, who had been selling government contracts for cleaning services (he also happened to have some Mafia ties). This led a number of ambitious lawyers and judges to investigate the extent of bribes and corruption in the government. What they discovered was that almost every politician had, at one point or another, received some sort of kick backs. It had, over the course of Post-War Italian society, been part of doing business since the government had some sort of interest in almost all aspects of business in Italy.
This led to a wave of sensational arrests and the collapse of the current coalition government, which was being led by the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). The head of the PSI and a former Prime Minister, Bettino Craxi, was told he was going to be indicted for corruption and promptly resigned as head of the party and headed off to Tunisia to spend the rest of his days living in opulent splendor off the money he had collected off all those bribes. Meanwhile, he was convicted of corruption in absentia.
As all of this was occurring, the main party in country, the DC, was hit hardest of all as they had been in power all this time. In local elections, the DC and PSI were steadily losing votes, particularly in the North where a new party, The Northern League (who had a plank in their platform calling for northern Italy to break from the south) had formed. Finally, in mid-1993, the DC completely collapsed and broke apart. A new incarnation quickly reappeared, but the damage had been done.
Meanwhile, since the government had collapsed, new elections were called. Berlusconi formed a party called Forza Italia, allied him self with Neo-fascists and other conservatives and swept into office on a campaign claiming that he was in fact un-corrupted. The honeymoon lasted about 3 months when posecutors and magistrates began looking into Berlusconi's many business' and noticed that he too might have been invovled in the corruption scandals. The Forza Italia government promptly collapsed and new elections were called again. This time, the new incarnation of the Communist Party of Italy came into office and managed to keep it for the length of its term. Berlusconi has managed to avoid being convicted, mostly through a number of loopholes in the law (like statute of limitations running out while he was being tried) and is now back into office with a slightly less conservative coalition.
These are not the only moments of corruption in recent Italian history. Most of these scandals occurred in Milan and Rome. They don't include the massive problems that have occurred in the South with the various Mafia organizations (and were far less bloody in comparison). But that's for another day.