217. Editorial Note
After a prolonged deadlock, Christian Democrat Giovanni Leone, who had previously served as Prime Minister in two short-lived all-DC minority governments in 1963 and 1968, won election as President of the Italian Republic on the 23rd ballot, December 24, 1971. Prime Minister Emilio Colombo resigned on January 15, 1972, after representatives of the Republican Party withdrew from his government. An effort by Giulio Andreotti to obtain parliamentary confirmation of a minority all-DC government failed on February 26. On February 28, Leone dissolved Parliament before completion of its 5-year term for the first time in Republican Italy’s history.
The May elections resulted in only minor changes in the parliamentary representation of the three largest parties—Christian Democratic, Communist, and Socialist. By now the Socialists and Social Democrats had dissolved their merger; running separately, however, their share of the vote closely followed their combined total in 1968. The Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity (PSIUP), however, lost all 23 of its seats in the Chamber of Deputies and in July formally merged with the Italian Communist Party. Among the smaller parties, the Liberals lost heavily in both chambers of Parliament while the Republican Party showed strong gains. The neo-fascist Italian Social Movement doubled its seats in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.