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Tangentopoli (Italian pronunciation: [tanʤenˈtɔpoli]; sometimes translated as "bribesville") is a term which was coined to describe pervasive corruption in the Italian political system exposed in the 1992-6 Mani Pulite investigations, as well as the resulting scandal, which led to the collapse of the hitherto dominant Christian Democracy party and its allies.  The term derives from tangente, which means kickback, and in this context refers to kickbacks given for public works contracts.
The number of suspects involved varies but as many as 5000 have been cited. At one point more than half of the members of the Italian Parliament were under indictment. More than 400 city and town councils were dissolved because of corruption charges. The estimated cost of the bribes paid annually in the 1980s by (Italian and foreign) companies bidding for large government contracts in Italy was 4 billion dollars (6.5 trillion lire).
The term lottizzazione, meaning the way a terrain is divided up in minor parts or lotti, came to indicate the procedure of awarding guidance of such important state conglomerates as IRI, ENEL or ENI to political figures, or at least managers with a clear political orientation. This usually trickled down to lower levels, creating power centres depending on political parties that controlled a significant part of the production system.
The available seats were usually awarded so that government parties (and opposition parties like the Italian Communist Party) would get a share of power corresponding to their perceived influence in the government. Most people suspected that this "market" could hide less-than-clear interests, and also be a way to illegally accumulate capital by means of corruption and mismanagement. Sadly, the investigations of the early '90s proved these suspicions to be mostly true.
- ^ Moliterno, Gino (2000). Encyclopedia of contemporary Italian culture. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-14584-8.
- ^ a b Stephen P. Koff (2002). Italy: From the 1st to the 2nd Republic. Routeledge. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-203-00536-1.