chapter  6
20 Pages

The first ‘economic miracle’: industrialization and the economy, 1896–1914

Cultural changes were even more striking than economic decline. By the 1970s only just over one-third of the people went to mass weekly; over half declared that they were indifferent to religion. By December 1970 Italy had her first divorce law, allowing divorce in certain restricted circumstances. Catholic lawyers argued that it was unconstitutional however, the Italian Constitution includes provision for a referendum, if 500,000 electors request it; the referendum can abrogate, that is, repeal, all or part of most laws. By 1974 there was a Committee of Democratic Catholics campaigning for the divorce law; it claimed that over 20 per cent of the priests it had contacted supported its views. Divorce was the most spectacular aspect of the crisis of the family, but it was not the only one. It all confirmed the Great Cultural Revolution of the previous few years. This chapter discusses the new role of the trade unions already; the other outstanding example was the historic compromise.