Since 1992, Italy has been rocked by the disintegration of its traditional ruling elite as dozens of leading politicians have been accused of corruption, extortion, and Mafia ties. The two linchpins of the former governing coalition, the Christian Democrats and the Socialists, have been shattered by scandal and humiliated at the polls. New political forces, such as the Northern League, have rushed to fill the vacuum. The traditional opposition, the Communist Party, changed its name to the Democratic Party of the Left in 1991 and has since emerged as the leader of a coalition of progressive forces that may yet prove itself as Italy's natural government. The neofascist Italian Social Movement, profiting from the chaos, has become the largest party in Italy's economically depressed South. All these political disturbances have taken place against a backdrop of mounting economic worries and an internecine war between the state and the Mafia.These political convulsions could well be designated a revolution. Since the fall of the Fourth Republic in France, no Western nation has undergone such a dramatic period of upheaval. This clear and balanced book provides both a historical account of the circumstances that led to la rivoluzione italiana and an explanation of why it took place after decades of complacency.