Italians Vote For A Republican Government


The Italian people voted in a referendum to abolish the Monarchy and establish a Republic. Victor Emmanuel III had abdicated in 1946, in favor of his son, Umberto. Umberto now went into exile in Portugal. Enrico de Nicola became the provisional president and served until the new constitution went into effect on January 1, 1948.

The Italians had ended the war on the Allied side. Thus they were treated differently by Allied forces. The Italians had lost some territory, but most Italians considered it a small price to pay for being an ally of Hitler and the Nazis while Mussolini ruled. The question facing Italians was what sort of government did they want to lead them. The Allies had left in place, King Victor Emmanuel. The major political parties favored ending the monarchy in replacing it with a Republic. In February 1946, local elections took place, the first since 1920. The election result indicated a nearly even divide between the Christian Democrats and Socialist Communist bloc. Both groups supported an end to the monarchy, and thus King Emmanuel decided to abdicate the crown and left the country on May 9, 1939. The King's son Umberto II declared himself the King. There were demonstrations for and against him. On June 2, 1946, a special referendum was held on whether to continue the monarchy or not. Initial results indicated an overwhelming vote to end the monarchy, but the final results would not be known for two weeks. On June 11, 1946, the cabinet authorized Prime Minister Alcide de Gasperi to assume the powers of the head of state until a Constituent Assembly could be held. Umberto protested, claiming the government had taken powers it did not have. He left the country and into exile. On June 18, the full results of the referendum were published: 12,717,923 Italians voted to end the monarch while 10,719,284 voted for it to continue. The industrialized and urbanized North had voted overwhelmingly against the monarchy, while the more traditional and rural South voted for it to continue. Italy was now a Republic.