Today in Italy is celebrated the Republic Day: on 2 June 1946 more than 28 million Italians were called to vote to choose the form of government of the country after the end of fascism, and with about 2 million votes more than the Monarchy chose the Republic. At the same time, the Italians also voted to elect the members of the Constituent Assembly: the Christian Democrats obtained a relative majority with 207 deputies out of the total 556, followed by the Socialists and Communists.
The Republic Day has existed since 1948, but in 1976 the military parade that characterized it was canceled due to the Friuli Venezia Giulia earthquake. From the following year, for more than twenty years, it was a “movable feast”: in order not to lose a working day, in fact, it was decided to celebrate it every first Sunday in June. In 2000, on the initiative of the President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the second Amato government instead re-established the date of the Feast on 2 June, together with the official celebrations.
In 1946, 75 years ago, Italy had just emerged from the Second World War: the vote took place between the rubble of the Allied bombings and those of the demolitions of the retreating Nazis, with hundreds of thousands of Italians still scattered around the prison camps all over the world, entire provinces under foreign military rule and a climate that seemed close to that of a civil war.
The official results of the referendum were announced on the following 18 June, and it was on that day that the Court of Cassation officially proclaimed the birth of the Italian Republic: 12,718,641 Italians had voted in favor of the Republic, 10,718,502 in favor of the Monarchy and 1,498,136 had voted blank or no ballot; more than 3 million did not participate in the vote.
The counting of the result clearly showed that Italy was divided into two halves. In Northern Italy almost all the main urban centers voted in favor of the Republic, which obtained the largest result in Trento, where it won 85 percent of the votes. In many southern cities, on the other hand, most Italians voted for the Monarchy: in Naples, for example, they obtained 900,000 votes against 250,000 for the Republic; also in Palermo the Monarchy obtained a great advantage, with almost 600 thousand votes against 380 thousand. In Rome, on the other hand, the difference in favor of the Monarchy was much more subtle, about 30 thousand ballots.
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Not all Italians had the opportunity to vote. For example, military prisoners of war in allied camps, some of whom were even in the United States, could not participate in the elections, and neither did the inmates in Germany, who were slowly beginning to return to the country, did not vote. Furthermore, there was no vote in the province of Bolzano, which after the creation of the Republic of Salò had been annexed to Germany and which after the end of the war had been placed under the direct government of the Allies.
Nor did they vote in Pula, Rijeka and Zara, three cities that were Italian before the war, and which would have passed to Yugoslavia, just as they did not vote in Trieste, which for several years was subject to international administration and was the center of a complicated diplomatic dispute that would have been resolved only in 1954, with the return of the city to Italy.
Although the legend is still widespread, there was no fraud during the referendum. According to the analysis of historians and experts, who have deepened the results with modern techniques, the vote took place on a regular basis, and artificially creating a gap of almost 2 million votes would have required the complicity of thousands of people and left behind itself a very long trail of evidence. The legend, however, remained alive: partly because of the tense atmosphere that reigned in those weeks and which continued to loom over Italy for years, and partly because the counting and the process by which the referendum was announced were managed in an uncertain and sometimes downright messy way.
The first results arrived on 4 June and seemed to give the Monarchy the advantage, but during the night and the morning of the following day the Republic took a clear advantage and on 10 June the Court of Cassation proclaimed the result: in the statement, however, surprisingly he used a dubious formula, thus postponing the definitive announcement to the following 18 June, after the examination of the objections presented above all by the monarchists.
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The official ceremonial of the Republic Day provides that the President of the Republic places a laurel wreath in homage to the Unknown Soldier, at the Altare della Patria, in Piazza Venezia in Rome. Usually the parade of the armed forces takes place along the Imperial Forums of Rome, which in 2020 was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. After placing the usual laurel wreath in Piazza Venezia, last year the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella visited Codogno, the city in the province of Lodi where the first case of coronavirus in Italy was identified the previous February. After meeting the local authorities and visiting the city cemetery, Mattarella returned to Rome for a concert in the courtyard of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases “Lazzaro Spallanzani”.