ITALIAN COMMUNIST POLITICAL STRATEGY

Created: 7/15/1980

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ITALIAN COMMUNIST POLITICAL STRATEGI

Italian Camruniat chief Bet-linguae apparently lias resisted intense pressure from his party'sng to abandon the "historic compromise" strategy. On the surfaoe, this stance appears -ibiguous because in order to placate his internal opponents, Berlinguer hae pledged to give greater emphasis to Comuniat relations with the Socialists, fnis in ttcn has raised questions in seme quarters about whichSocialists or ChristianCommunists will now view as their principal interlocutor on the question of, Ccauniat involvement in the governing process-

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Our best guess is that Berlinguer aoy have acquiesced in hia opponents' demand not only because he needs to protect his position within the party but also because heonciliatory stance toward the Socialists as the most premising tactic to woo than totay from their governmental alliance with the Christian Democrats. Berlinguer may hope eventually to co-opt or neutralize the Socialistsdepriving the Christian Democrats of any otherrevive tlie question of direat Communist participationuture coalition government

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The recent internal debate over the party's "historic compromise strategy--with Its emphasisreferential relationship with the Christian Deeocrats--has been promptedrowing body of evidence that Communist monentuairect governing role Is stalled. Therception stems in part from the party's mediocre performance in last month's local elections- The Communist vote totals dropped nearly three percent compared to the last running of these elections The party did come close to holding its own in relation to its performanceast year's pariiaaentary vote, but overallf the Communistsynamic political force ha> faded.

The party's problems were compounded by the Socialists' decision to participate in the Cossiga government. During the "crisis" which existed earlier when the Socialists rejected an alliance with the Christian CtbO-crats, the Communists could-with some effect-pressure the Christian Democrats to consider the possibility of Communist cabinet ministers. How,ertain sense, the question of Communist participation in the goverment has become problematic, despite the party'sapressive influence in parliament and Italian societyhole

Discontent with party strategy emerged clearly during theentral Committee meeting late last month. In that meeting, leftwing Communists argued for the replacement of the "historic compromise" with the "unity of the left" strategy in which the party would striveovernmental alliance with the Socialists and other leftist forces. Berlfnguer's response to this challenge exemplified the Ccomunlst leader's flexibility In dealing with controversial Issues and his ability tootentially difficult situation to his advantage. He allowed his QDWMr.ts to vent Weir feelings, while at the same time co-opting their call for improving the party's relations with the Socialists and adapting it to his own purposes. This moveactical adjustment in his existing "historic ccnpromlse" policy necessitated by his perception of several new realities of Italian politics:

the election results seem to confirm the Communists' relatively weakened positionis the Christian Democrats.

that the new Christian Democratic leadership appears for the time being in the hands of the party's anti-Coamunist majority.

in order to avoid the plight of the French Communists--whom Berlinguer sees as being isolated andr^unists. must improve their ties with the Socialists.

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flerlinguer's movesacit acknowledgement of the Socialists' pivotal role in Italianby their tnpressive showing in last month'sare aimed ultimately at re-enlisting than in the campaign to include the Communistsuture government. In pracMcal terms the Communists are working both to disengage the Socialists from the Christian Democrats at the national level and are determined to maintain as much leverage as possible over the Socialists by str^ngtha-fiirto and extending "leftist coalitions" in local administrations.

At the sane time. Berlinguer seeas doubtfulelationship with the Socialists could ever replace one with the Christianthe single strorgest force in lulian politics. Hjreover, there apparently is substantialwithin both the Cotaeunlst and Socialistthe "leftist alternative." 3erlinguer reportedlyonvinced tnat the major obstacle at present to the "unity of the left" is Socialist chiefriding highesult of the Socialists' electoralundoubtedlyhis strength by courting the Socialist left. T

Forreasons, Berlinguer has refused to budge, even in the face of leftwlng Communist pressure, from his commitment to an Italian government In which all "progressive"Conuunists, socialists and He reportedly Intends to continue cultivating the Christian Democratic left wing. Berllnguer is aware, however, that any open conciliatory gestures at this point toward the Christian Democrats are likely to stir up considerable opposition from the Coaaiunlst left. He apparently hopes to head offeaction by simultaneouslyardline opposition to the Cossigaparticularly to Its economic policies. Berllnguer bears no personal grudge toward Cossiga but seems determined to bring down theut of the conviction that the longer the coalition remains in office, the more dlfflctilx-li wlUn renlace It with one more open to the Cceanunists

iiuui vneiiic'ilc. me/u riupc to spur MXBlinaea Christian Democrats and Socialists to use the opportunity to capture control of tneir respective parties and prepare the wa> for an eventual deal of some sort. Inevitably, fto-ever, these tactics have the effect of heightening thesentiments of the current Christian Democratic and Socialist leaders,iirtherhe party in its opposition role for the time being]

The Communists seen under no Illusions that this new policyImmediate results. In fact, the party seens prepared toat the government froa the sidelines for some time, perhapsasrniiji*plr|fj term of the current

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'i policies, the Coarnurii: -risk becoming political pariahs, particularlyhe new center-left coalitionble to govern effectively. This could prompt another pound of vitriolic Internal attacks nn Berlirtcuer's leadership and policies of thrtbat followed9 parliamentary elections. On the other hand, if Ineffective government continues to be the rule durfrvg thfs pericd. che Conaunists du likely to be rewarded by the electorate for their opposition and enabled tn rrtnnen.the Question of their participation In the governaent. J

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