ITALY: PROSPECTS FOR BETTINO CRAXI'S SOCIALISTS

Created: 3/1/1981

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i(aly: Prospects for ,

Socialist Chief Bciiino Craai. aflcr nearly bcini ousted in January

at managed lo aucn virtually unprecedented control over his party. Aidedeneral perception in lhc couniry thai lhe Cummumm were on lhe defemive. Craai hat moved lhe Socialuuby iiepowtion of lacil xepport for Ihe fini Cuuiga governmenihat seems lobe lhe prvoUl role in Forlani'i coalition. His achievemenu have been so impressive lhal Craxi tccrm. lubedrcammgucialisl-lcd federation of "lay" parties lhal could rival lhc Chriilian Democrats and rommunitu.

The apparent case with which the Socialisl kader has scored his victories, despite lhc formidable obstacles in his path, inevitably raises doubts aboul the durability of hishe question of Craxi's ability lo continue his winning ways has become central in light of growing evidence lhal Socialistlhc backing uf ihebeirelease luly from ihe treadmill of unstable and ineffective governments. Crati't accomplahmeau have been considerable, but his gains could evaporate at quickly as they appeared, confronting luly once again with lhc difficult question of Communisl panKipalioa in lhc national government.

Italy:for Ik-ItaxIN Socialisl

I'm.ntu Opc-ralinn

niviiu Mmi.:In'v'innLttif inmirn! at lhci". however.vhilicd. UMi4ll>" lhcpari'> Imh

ilieirfiik'* partner in* ilw (blame* for lhc gradu let.' thecun>liliriwt Heu-id iiMi.M'iK atnI "joininuMi,"rusting jnSocialist Pari) .Jnuni frmi bothr^tunml CumiiiuniM* and ultimatelybreak gincmmcnul .illi-

anve*VhIici of lhc larger rurucJ

I (id'flunjKl.ail's iluliii. htfI "dineJ.iljr ndependence" when relations betweenitw*rals and-unusuall) giNkl.jlk'd "programmatic-[urlljmcnlJfJ nu)otii>"tW I'rimc Minister AndicuUi effcemd) kepi the .Soc'ialrM* on lhe margin*the nuiilKal sceneeir new dance. So long as lhclarger parlies were willing Iu trj lolhc Soyrjlrsl* remained -i'1and Craxi'* strategy remained mil

dainc Momentum

doclopmcni. inxumuJ Craxi irut lhc- right iu U) owl hi* idea forn lhc larger puliiH'al arena When lhc Communisu vcullkd lhc Christian Uemocral led Andrcuui

coalition incialidtemerged in lhe Christian Ocmocrau' view avlheuol) acvcrnabk alternative fura new governing arrangc-incni. Sharp Communist kisses in the general ctcctwn in June allowed Cravi io play ihe key role in ending lhc king governmeni emit by lending hissupport to lhc minorii) Cuuiga governmeni in August. This move fell vhotiormal alliance, but it immediately heightened lhe suspicions of the Socialist leftall) in taking control uf the party the previous year. The part)'t relationship lo lhc new gou'inmeni vcemcd lo this faction dangcrouvl) close lo lhe discredited ccnicr-lefl esnenmcnis of the IvtiOv The Socialisthich prefers cuoperalion wiih the CommunisU -feared ihai Craxi's aim was to

Willi lilt

ull-fledged alliance wiih the Christian Democra

A potentially explosive confronialion between lhe Icfl wing and ihe Craxi wing of lhc pariy which threatened lo unseal Craxi was narrow l> averted al the central commiilce meeting inakeshift compromise called for lhc parly lo.

' Alio* thegmcrnincnl toaillar^aficMhc< nrislianKiErevi scheduledI'cbrunry.

I'tinpurl an emergency government intluUintiinmunKlv

Ihi all il oiuld ui awiid ne* elections

cjauomeni

It became apparent that Ihe deal was weighted in Cruxi's fan* when ihe Christian IJCflKKfalsovernment partnershiptheThe Christian Democrats" rebuff of ihe Communists nude Craxi's own reluct it nee lo form an alliance wilh them more credible wjihin his ownflcrlcJiyinB lipscrvke lo the ideal .rf "leflist unity" antjpraising the Communists' "demoerraxi lamcnied lhat the process remained incomplete and thereby disqualified Ihcmovernmental rule. The Socialist chief then argued lhat unly by joining the Christian Democratswl it in- .mid his party forestall early election* and avert continuing political chaos. The formation of the second Cossiga pnunmcnithe first major victory for Craxi and his polilical

( raxiassuming the manilc of "guarantorraxi

Masterahead lo Ihc regional and adminiuralive eleciioni in JuneHi-

gambit bore fruit: the Sociilitifc registered unexpecicdhile ihe Christian Dernoeraii and Communtiu barely held their ground. Theresults further undercut Craxi's pro-leflirt opponents -ithin the puny and convinced him lo move quickly on both the local and national levels. He maneuvered to improve the Socialists' alliances with both the Communist* and Christian Democrats in local governments. Relation* with ihe Christian Democrats in Rome, however, were ihc key lotrategy, and he bent his criotIs toward convincing them lhat ihe Socialist* were loyal and

responsible allies. He hoped not only to broaden his pa responsibilities, but perhaps even to lead ihe govcrnme

Craxi apparently underestimatedonenls inside and outside hi* party. Dissatisfied leftwing Socialists and the leftwing Christianthose favoring greater cooperation wilh theresources lo prove ihal even with Craxi's party formally supporting the government, the continued exclusion of the Communists iefi ihc coalition only slightly more effective lhan its predecessors.apid fire series of parliamentary challenges to the Cossiga government, these dissidents deserted ihe majority ranks under ihc coycjjjLlhe tcercl vote and ultimately forced the Prime Minister lo resign

Craxi. faced with ihc prospect of losing what power he had gained, counterattacked. He:

- Stacked ibc parly* Directorate trill hisvxc influential SoculKt vokeew pauMiJ" aifccoKM

p.Jkic*and b> lining'hat parly's tatf) Bttua rcM'ociured

. Sought the lacil supportIK* Radicals, one of Ihc mmicni* ofthristianvialisl rule,ew

Nonetheless.ealized thatriMian Democrats would nottheir preeminent political sia.usefacedIihal iheChrKiun-ae lo>.n, -ilh ihc .dea dialogue with ihc perhapsrhwartAwarenosofpU)cd.mp-rian. pa-ial.itude toward thecrnmcn. thateems lhat from them.imcnlChrrslian IkmoviaU asa>bsaJirncfuror an carl) parliamentar)

Bidimtdue* noi believe Ihc Suculw. -re >ei read) topull off another

Tn Uupset, and he conunuc* io ir) to cane out an electoralor

dependent of both the Chrutun IVmocrats

and Common.su Meintend* lo highlgjht .hea).

libertarian character-crong onUUlt* so.es from .he

otheror iestaace. Craai ha. *oughi w

. Woo worker support from ibe Communru* bya. hea new. moderate trend ia ihe

. Rally ihe considerable antklerical and secular sentimenttal>.with ihe Communists and smaller la) parties, by disputinganltaburiion stalemcnis.

. ArVue lha.ear* of Christian

incompetence, using a* an example the alleged Chrutian.nvcJvcmen. in .he scandals and mistakesf* earthquake rcUcf

. Cnttaliic on the Wnapingrugauaie Ut- December to reignite .heconirovertythe policy of the Christian Democrat* and Communis* to^efusc to negotiate terror* demands, even to savea victim's lift

Urgelyesult, trie Forlani government has undergone more than its ,hare of parliamentary tests. In each case, ihe Communistsbeen ihe firstoint out lha. Socia.is. support has managed to keepafloat but done little to helptackleersistent economic, social, and political problems| |

adfly approach In politics, seeking to imitate Ihc Radical "pariy'sMiec'css in prornoiini* cause* generally ignored b> ihc ptiliticil establishment bui popular with ihc man in (he *lrcci. The Socialist chief probably will continue these ladies nl least until after the Socialist I'ariy cnercss scheduled fur April which isexpocled to sanction his polkie* and may grantandate lo demand ihe primee may also decide In wail andul impact hi* ladies have <Ht the party'siu sis referendum* and scattered local cleciions slan^JiofMay and

taxi bides his lime on ihc domestic front, foreign policy probably will play an important rule in his efforts to set the state for his next major move. Socialist altitudes on iniernational questions in the past iwo years have been shaped to advance Ihcfor power. Craxi's support forecision in Decemberto participate in SATO'* theater nuclear force modernization program was meantlear signal lu the Christiannd lo the United Slates a* well lhat ihe Socialist* wouldesponsible governing partner. Since then, the Social-isis have agreed in ihe same spirit lo impose sanction* on Iran and to lake ecunomie measure* against the Soviet Union. Most rccenilj. Craxi* pari) was particularly vocal in publicizing the view-articulated independently by July's Socialistpolilical terrorism i* an international phenomenon backed by Moscow and it*still *ecm* concerned, however, about how hit kfiisi party i* perceived by the new USItalian domestic politics aside. Craxi appears to believe Washington's imprimatur i* vital lo his quest for the prime ministry. It i* likely. therefore, that ihe Socialiil chief will tryisit to ihe United Slates within the next several momhs io argue his parly's case]

( ravi

uf Cruxi'i success this past year can be attributed to good fortune. He has benefitedoincidence of events highlighting his party's "in-dispensability" as ihc only alternative to ihe Communist*overning

coalition with the Christian Democrats. In this heady atmosphere. Craxi has movedroven method of operationigher risk lactic. The secret of his past successes has been his ability lo produce tangibleresponsibilities and influence for himteirand for hisaxi's current contcniiousness. however, may make il more difficult for him to hold on to gains already achieved. All now seem* to be rir-mg on the possibilityocialist election victory. Ironically, any sign from the party that ii wants early elections would lend to undermine the formula thai pr.rvcd so effective last June-lhe Socialists as the "guarantors of Italy'sraxi's current efforts to build popular support for hU party by hammering awayariety of controversial issues run ihc risk of

*.3

evoking in ihc public mind ihc image of Ihc Strolls'* a* ihc party olevelopment Ihni could cause Craxi's electoral aspiration* lo boomerang.

In addition. Craxi'* claim to undispuied control of his party already seems tenuous and may weaken further if hi* election gambitor example. Craxi's survival during last January'* Central Committee meeting was the result uf the bandwagon phenomenon, with some kflisl* providing Craxl Ihc balance of power. Such sentiment could dissipate rapidly if he begin* lostumWc- The preemptive move lasi fall against his opponent* in ihc Directorate undeniably ha* weakened and disorganized ihe Socialisi lefi wing further, ll has. huwevcr.onsiderable reservoir of resentment within that group, increasing Us determinationtrike at Craxi

increasing

Ihc instant he appears vulnerab

Craxi's dominance over ihc party '* highest level* doc* not *ecm lo extend to the local rank and Tile. After ihc June adminUtraiive election* he wanted lo form center-left coalition* al the regional level, but has not been successful. Only in Liguria ha* the national party been able to persuade the local Socialist* to abandon alliance* with the Communists in favor ofilh the lay panic* ihat arewpportcd by the Christian Democrat!

The value of Craxi'* opening to other la) and socialist parties also may be more apparent lhan real. For instance, the agreement with ihe Social Democrats seems to behort-term uciical move by both parties. Craxi had been adamant in opposing the inclusion of the Social Democrats in thebefore ihe9 elections in which the iwo parlies competed foro *ave face after ihc Cossiga government'* resignation-and lo create al Icasi the impression ihal he had emerged from the affair even morelater was willing lo welcome the Social Democrats into the government so long as ihey were perceived as his clients. From the Social Democratic poini of view, an agreement in principle io coordinate iheir policies wilh Craximall price to pay tohare of governmental power. It is virtually certain ihal the iwoonce again will be at each others* throats in the event of another electionr

Finally, the difficulties surrounding Craxi's approach to the Radicals are symptomatic of ihe problems inherent inon-Communist. non-Catholic political alternative. In seeking to aitract Radical support for his plan by adopting their lactic and promoting iheir favorite issues. Craxi risks both undermining his efforts to keep the various Socialist factions in line and alienating fulurc backers among the other lay parties. Neither result would be likely lo reassure the Christian Democrats about Craxi'* ability io deliver votes. Either wouldevere blowopes for a ,

overnment with some form of Communist involvcmcm

Ii is, uf course, possible thai Craxi's remarkable run of luck willhe will score new gains fur his parly in an early election andsupporter* to the banner of lay party unity. liven so. his fatestill rest in the hands of the Christian Democrats. It would be upto decide whether slaying in league with Craxi was wort hf*ubjeetlo whal might turn out to be steadily increasing pressureto relinquish more and more of iheir polilical dominance. Theyconclude the.cost was too high fJ^ keeping the Communists out uf

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