THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT CRISIS: A TENTATIVE PROGNOSIS (DELETED)

Created: 2/2/1979

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

memorandum waa prepared by

Offias of Regional and Political

predict in any detail hc> tha crisis uill develop. Certain broad trends can ba discerned, houever. First, it aeems likely that rotations betuaen the Christian Denoci-ats and Corrauniets uill grcv more tenee in tha next feu veake, uith increased possibilities for stCawleulation by both parties. Second, if this isound of parliamentary elections uill ba very difficult to avoid. Third, Qhether or not aleotione are held, the central foot in Italian political life is unlikely to change: that it is all but impossible to settable government, much lata an effective one, unless Italy's tvo biggest parties oanay to_ And fourth]]eventa cf the last year have node the

Con-runic to much more rcluatant to-cooperate without

guaranteo of an expanded role in tha governing process.

CeecrjMtt Alas

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The Communist cove does not so farasic shift In the party's strategy, which continues toround Enrico3 call for an 'historica broadly-based government centering on cooperation between his party and the Christian Democrats. tjjhlle there hasierce debate in the Cosmtunist Party recently over relations with the Christian Deoocrats, the debate has reflected differences over the modalltie? and timing of flerllnguer's tactics for moving toward his objective rather than disagreement with it. This fi not to say the "historic compromise"opular Idea in the party; but uncomfortable though many Comaunlsts may be with the 'hlstfli-lcone seems able toorkable altarnatlveTfl

tit the same time, there is clearly wide agreement In the party that the cooperative tactics followed since6 election--when the4 percent brought them to within four points of the Christianbegun to bactfirejime It appeared as though the party waslear trajectory toward cabinet status, but in recent monthsasuccession ofmembership, local election losses, strained relations with Its labor base, an apparent loss of support among moderates who thought their votes for the Comounlst* would produce more effective government, and growing criticism froa the Christian Democrats and smaller parties, who have idoved quickly to exploit the Communists' vulnerability.|

Communist leaders generally agree that the way to reverse these trendstiffcr attitude toward the Christian Democrats. 8ut how muchhere is bound to be sharp debate in the party whether It shouldsoft" or "hard" opposition policy while the present

crisis Is sorted out. Those whoough stance will assert that the party's current problems can be traced to the flexible line It has followed sincehen the Coewunistsnew andby Implication,egree, chis argument Is likely to strikeresponsive chord with Berlinguer, because his essential problems are how to Impress the Christian Democrats with his seriousness and how to prod an unambiguous response from themT]he Christian Democrats have skillfully used their traditionalfor time when under attack, weaving elaborite but vague compromises on controversialdraw Berlinguerhip that he now seems convincedestroying hisdentity.

On the other hand, how rough can Berlinguer play withoutisfitatesoanlU^ icugeT He cannot afford to foreclose the possibilityegotiated settlement In the present crisis. Nor in the event of new elections will he want to^rlsk runninglatform that suggests Irresponsibility, j

Qhese considerations suggest Berlinguer willelective opposition policy, opposing the government when he detects widespread discontent but moving more cautiously otherwise. Comnunist gains as an opposition party in every postwar parliamentary election testify to the party's skill at choosing and exploiting controversial Issues. And the progressive broadening of the party's constituency (Itsprofile now nearly parallels the Christian Democrats') indicates that the Communists can follow yjjj strategy without necessarilyarticular group of votersTJj

(HeanwhUe. Borllnquer will probably try to deflect criticism by citing the Christian Democrats' reluctance to take certain actions, such as trimming their use of government programs for patronageajor factor behind the soaring public sector deficit. He would also argue that certain Communistaswed fate Italian entry Into the European Monetaryshared by some respected figures outside the party. In"short]}Berlinguer has plenty of rhetorical ammunition to use against those who might accuse htm of demagogy.

An early test of Communist Intentions aay come during negotiations Just getting underway on key labor contracts Involvinghird of Italy's Industrial work force. Although the Cosmuntsts do not control labor, they remain the most Influential party in thed Indications are that Communist laborprincipal advocates of moderation during the last twobeginning toej7 metalworkers--Italy's bellwetherbegin talks tMs

month. The me til wooers' bargaining platform exceeds governmentcall for keeping real wages constantt yenIt is difficult to Imagine Communist union leadersgovernment's side in these

If the metalworkers achieve their waged the agreement proves to be trendsetting, chances ofise In the cost of labor this year will be slim. Failure to curb labor costs-whlch have increasedaster rate In Italy duringhan In any other Industrialized country-would serlc-wly Jeopardize the governawnt's three year economic plan, which aims to restore balanced growth by cutting labor cost*the public sector debtf expected toillion

Berlinguer's Socialist Card

Gerllngucr has another overriding-goal. Hot only must he prove to his followers and to Italians,hole that his party is trival for the Christian Democrats; he must also prove that the Christian Democrats cannot govern Italy unless they deal politically with the Cwinlsts. Given the parliamentary arithmetic and theof Italian political life, this twinsffect proving Out the Christian Oemoerats cannot look to the Socialist Party as an alternative governing partierjf I

During the last year. Socialist chief Craxi haskillful balancing act that seemed to give his party new vitality. He attacked the Communists on ideological grounds, hinting that his party might ultimately renew the alliance It had with the Christian Democrats Innd. (This encouraged many Christian Democrats to .ook again for common ground with tht Socialists and to try undoing seme of the legislative agreements Andreotti had made with Berlinguert the saa* time, Craxl sought to hold his divided party together and to attract new support by stressing Socialist -autonomy' from both the Christian Oemoerats and Communists. 1 1

(Jut 'autonomy' made senseocialist policy only so long as the party did not have to choose between Berlinguer and the Christian Democrats-an agony spared the Socialists by the Inclusion of all three parties In Andreotti's parliamentary aajorlty. Now that the Christian Democrats and Ccaxmnlsts are on opposite sides of the aisle, Craxl will find It much harder to avoid following either one or the other. Itrecisely that kind of choice that has kept the Socialist Party sharply divided throughout the postwar period and made it an unstable and

unreliable ally for the Christian Democrats. By pulling out of the governing majority. Berlinguer clearly Interds to undercut Craxi and to sharpen the Socialist Party's traditional dllemu: whether to join the oavernment and risk losing supportommunist Party sniping from the sidelines, Cir_io_side with the Cossmuntst Party and risk getting lost In Its shadoO

The fascination of cost observers with the Communist Party's internal problems has tended to obscure those of theImportant In view of the pivotal role they would Inevitably play in any coalition excluding the Cooraunists. At the grass roots and among the Socialists' intellectuals and influential left wing, thereesidual antipathy to cooperation with the Christianourse which they feel has damaged the party in the past, morally and materially, tiany of these Socialists still want to work for in eventual leftist government with theeven though the Communlsts'repeatedly and firmly exclude this optlonj I I

And there Is an Inherent tension In the factional alliance Craxi has put together at the top of the party. While Craxl personally leans toward the Christian Oemocrats, his control of the party restsealeft-wing faction whose members tend to view the Communists as natural allies and the Christian Democrats as natural enemies. Cf there Is any issue that could cause turbulence in Craxi's najority it Is the questionew center-left coalition^

S

raxl managed to tighten his grip on the party leadership at the 1st congress last April, but he had hoped to have more time to work at resolving the party's Internal differences. He has apparently not made much progress, however, which explains why sojafi-Qawunlsts refer to Berllnguer's move as "playlnj the Socialist card,

The Christian Democrats and Elections

The Christian Democrats too face difficult choices. As recently as last August, there were two clear tendencies in the party's hierarchy: one leaning toward continued cooperation with Berlinguer and the other doubting the Communist's democratic conversion and stressing that Chris-Deaocratic Interests will always be antithetical to the Cccinunists'.

. JUAD|I

The latter group appears to have gained the upper hand In recent months and that has contributed to the Impression that the Christian Deswcrats are united In wanting to reverse the trend toward rapprochement with tne Communists. Qut Andreottl for one does not seen to be in that

; reliable reports on his recent discussions with theillingness on his part to workew egreeaeet with theaT)

S

at sentiment is undoubtedly shared by other Christian Democrats ther it grows will depend largely on the party's assessment of Its options-whtch will depend in turn on how flexible the Communists are but, more Importantly, on how the Socialists react to the tremendous pressures th* crisis will train on them. If the Socialists shy away, as they probably will, from involvementovernment excluding the Communists, the Christian Oemoerats will have to choose between renewing ties with Berlinguer orew election^ I I

At this point, an electionisky proposition for all of thethe Communists becausemall loss wouldsychological blow, for th* Socialists because losing votes or gainingew would leave then caught between the two giants, and for the Christian Democrats because the balloting would probably not solve anything. Although it Is too soon to assess the outcome with any precision, most early predictions have the. Communist vote fallingew points but probably not belowercent. Th* Christian Democrats are generally expected to stay the sane or gain slightly, but remain aroundercent. Estimates on the Socialists vary. No one says theycore large gains, although some observers say they would hold theirpercent Inoaln slightly. But the prevailinghared by the Socialists th*mselves-js that they would run the riskharp setback. This possibility would grow If the election was precededrotractedbetween th* Christian Deaocrats and Ccaaajnlsts, sincecrlnonious campaign of this sort would tend to polarize the electorate and further blur the Socialists' Image.'

'Thereideapread assumption that tht Socialiatt' prospects vould improve if an Italian election tsas held concurrent jith or folhxring the direct elections to tht EC's European Parlianent, elated for June. Thiere ttt on tht theory that the Sod alius uould benefit from ateooiation with their more suoatttful northernto bt exoxintd critically. Italian POterr in general tend to be parochial, and thert it no evidence that they attach positive qualities to thtir parties on tht basisoreign party's favordblt Moreover, the Sooialitte are in no volition to monopolize Europeanhe Italian Conrtunitt delegation has been more promnent than ths Socialists' in the existing European Parliament, and Italy's foremost European federalist, former IX conditioner Altiero Spinelli, uas elected to ihc Italian pirliament6 ae an independent on tha Ccrmunist Party'* lieu | j

J

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ew electionharpocialist jump to, sayrercent, it would not alter the political equationnd even that kind of outcome

would not solve the Socialists' central political problem: how to profit from government membership if the Communists are left In the opposition,

free to influence but also to attack the government. So the Socialists would probably still want some guarantee of Communist legislative support in order to help override conservative Christian Oemocrats, whose defectionhe past on key parliamentary votes often shot down legislation deemed necessary by the Soclaltsjsjnorder to justify government membership to their leftist supporters"}

Qhus, any governing formula that would break the current impasse withoutossibly futile election probably would have to meet at least three conditions:

The Christian Democrats would have to be able to claim they had kept the Communists cut of the cabinet;

The Communists, however, would have to be able tothey had made substantial progress toward direct participation tn the government;

The Socialists would have to emerge on an equal footing with the Communists, neither more nor_Je.ss responsible forgovernment decisions.'

{One step in this directionhe formula the Socialists and Social Oemocrats are currently pushing, underhristian Oemcraticwould Include among itsumber of "technicians" chosen for their acceptability to the other panties, including the Communists.

process. Still, he would have to think twice about such an offer, although he would almost certainly need something else before he could accept 1t. In particular, he would probably Insist that the Christian Democrats agreedvance andriting to formal, institutionalized procedures for taking Communist views Into account in most aspects oft least some phases of its Implementation. The Ceamunlsts apparently thought they had such ansort of "gentleman'sthe late Christian Democratic leader Aldo tore, when they agreed last March to support the government.

The essence of their complaint now Ii that the Christian Oemoerats reneged an that agreement, following Moro's murder by Red Brigades terrorists Utt Hay.l

(however, achievingolution would be extremely difficultreasons, not the least of which Is Moro's absence. When thekilled htm, they removed the one Christian Democrat whobeen both willing and able to make partial Involvement In theprocess rewarding for Berlinguer. Since Moro's death, nohas managed to combine the moral authority and politicalto unify the party behind policies more subtle than its Consequently, the Communists are unlikely to trustDemocrat, as they did Moro, to follow through on en

Meanwhile, the failure of the security forces so far to solve the

Moro caseeminder that terrorismajor cause for

about the Italian situation.)

Red Brigades'

eticoi

nulftgmvummunlst laborthey have not been seriously hurt byecent policeoreover, these successes stand in contrast to the general disarray of the Italian securityof our major reasons for believing the Red Brigades could stage another "spectacular" like the Horo affair. Their penchant for long and patient planning probably means they cannot do this frequently or at will. But given their desire to humiliate and paralyze the Italian state, the Brigades will probably be greatly tempted to try another major operation during the government crisis, particularly if It seems to be moving toward some arrangement that reinforces the "historicquintessential leftist sell-out from the Red Brigades' point ofossible constraint on the Red Brigades, however, Is the likelihood that another major attack would encourage cooperation among the political

parties, at leasthll

Qt the moment, such cooperationong way off, and the serious obstaclesegotiated settlement of the crisis will makextremely difficult for the parties to avoid an eventual decision to go to thethough the balloting does not promise toay out of their dilemma. And If an election were to confirm tha predominance of the Christian Democrats and Communists and theof the Socialists, It could easily even compound their dilcmma-by reinforcing the Impression that solutions to Italy's problems remain Impossible without cooperation between the two major partiesj^

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