ITALY: PARTY RELATIONS AT THE LOCAL LEVEL

Created: 3/16/1979

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MEMORANDUM

ITALY: PARTY RELATIONS AT THE LOCAL LEVa

: Introduction

During recent months, observers of Italian ' politics have focused mainly on nationalthe Andreotti government's collapse the ef forte toew governrvmt, and now tha impending national election. Ir. many instances, howavar, local political trends have .refleeted, or sometimes even foreshadowed,the interparty tensions which led to theaet, the;.national level.Local potiiical developments during the' past several months illuotrate two generil tienda: .the weakening of Christianom-muniet cooperation end increased Socialist ambivalence toward both larger parties. These factors have alreadyumber of.key regional adrrinistrcticnewill threaten others unices relations among the parties improve at .the national lev*]} here are eigne that the composition of local governrtente couldargaining chip in ths 'current maneuvering toow national government

General Trends

The Impressive Connunist gains, in5 local6 general /times the party won morehird oV thethe party's standing and contributed to the ImpressionItaly's pressing economic and social problems cannot be treated effectively

This memorandum was preparedthe Officn of Pactional and Political^

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-in cany local administrations.

without Coeinunist assistance. The Communists' subsequent decision tohristian Democratic minority government at the nationalreturn for an understanding that they would be consulted on major policya trend toward similar cooperation

Communist gains in areas where the party had been weak gavehe leverage to work out formal consultative arrangements with Christianedreturn for Communist support in local legislatures. And In traditional Communist strongholds, the party's gains led not only to an increased number of Communist-Socialist coalitions, but also to some Instances of Christian Democratic support for such governments, f

These arrangements seemed fairly stable until recently, buthe last few months the same factors that have soured Interparty relations at the national level have begun to affect local politics. The Communists have been particularly anxious about the possible revival of Christian Democratic cooperation with their former Socialist allies. Consequently, the Conmunlsts have sought to work out more formal alliances with both partieshe regions where Ccarmunists dorairate; elsewhere, they have increased their demands to participate fullydministrations they suotort. The Socialists have becoxe increasingly concerned thathristian Democratic cooperation will weaken their party's political Importance. They have recently attempted to be more Independent in local government affairs by backingit from the Cormunists without becoming too closely linked to the Christian Democrats. For their part, the Christian Oemoerats are reconsidering various commitments to cooperate with the Cctmunists and are refusing to grant then new concessions in local administrations. Some of the Christian Democratic leaders apparently hope the growing differences among the parties will provi^*ftnportunlty for the Socialists to rejoin them In regional coalitions.

Regional Variations

The "Red Belt*: The Connunist Heartland

The Communists have been predominant in the north-central regions of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscanynd Umbria throughout the postvar period. They have traditionally governed in these regionsoalitions with the Socialist Party. Cooiiunist gains in5 regional elections allowed the party to put together similar leftist coalitions injhrje additional regions: Piedmontlguria, and Laiio. [

Emilia-Roraagnapecial case. With more thanercent of the vote, the Communists are stronger there than in any other region, and they have used that position to worknique arrangement under which the Cocmunist-Socialist government formally negotiates its program with the Christian Descents, who are then pledged to supoort it in the regional assembly. Thiseversal of the arrangement that has governed Christianommunist relations at the national level for most of the last twoalf years. Last fall. Communist efforts to reaffirm and expand the program agreement with the Christian Democrats met with stiff resistance froa the latter, who threatenedithdraw their support. They apparently were concerned that the arrangement would become institutionalized--and might further blur party distinctions.with respect to local administrative policy.

Dur!ag the past several months, the Socialists have been eager antagonize theInisolated but controversial issues such as the Communists' equivocal position on the questions of Soviet dissidents and the presence of Warsaw Pact troops in Czechoslovakia. Because the Socialists are reluctant to Jeopardize their relationship with the Communists 1nSocialists have offices and influence In this region that outweigh their electoral strength--they refuse toefinitive break. For their part, the Communists have refused to make administrative policy changes in the Socialists' Interest. The Communists in some Tuscan towns have even stripped uncooperatlyc.Socialists of theirffices to emphasize this point.

Ccerajnists In Sicily, lonbardy. andnortheast: One Foot in the Door

a step toward

Although different In most other respects, these regions are linked by one key political attribute: they havp. all had regional administrations led by Christian Democrats, allied with the Socialists and some smaller, parties, which enjoy Communist support. The Christian Democrats apparently agreed to these arrangements morely to bring the local situation Into line With developments at the national level. The Communists view this cooperationteji_ioward their eventual full participation in these administrations.

The Co-nounlsts are clearly preparing to escalate their campaign for full coalition status in these regions. Early this month, for example, they withdrew their support from the Sicilian regional government after the Christian Oeoacrats and their allies refusedequest. The regional government then resigned,risis that Is not likely to be resolved before the one In Rome.

The Socialists have also timidly indicated their willingness to put some distance between themselves and the Comrrunists in these areas. Qhey are apparently prepared to support the Palermo city administration In Sicily (Sfcllla) despite Communist opposition and to block changes in the lombardy (Lombardla) and Venice (Veneto) regional program agreements proposed by the CommmistsT) But in the city ofthe Socialist mayor remains In office at the pleasure of thethe Socialists show no inclination to Irritate their allies.

The Communists in Calabria. Campania, and Apulia: Pryingoer Open

Tensions among the three parties have been most pronouxed In these southernhe Communists have had less influencehese regional aeSir.istrations, even though they have formed part of the majority supporting their legislative programs. In recent months, the Communists,have labeled the administration of each region ineffective and have withdrawn their support to emphasize their demands for full participation. They have also declared that adjustments in the programs would be Inadequate, but have accepted an offer toegional program control cocnsisslon Inwh1ch would greatly Increase Coranunist influence in the planning and distribution ofIf the party remained excluded from the administration. imilar arrangement proved ineffective in Calabria, and the Christian Democrats remain unwilling to offer such concessions in Campania. The Socialists hold the balance of power in both these provinces, but continue to support

Ccrrminists' demands rather than risking exposure to Communist attacks by

siding with the Christian Democrats In these three-nonth-old disputes, j

Outlook

The withdrawal of Comnunist parliamentary support for the Andreottl government two months ago virtually eliminated local party Initiatives to overcome Interparty tensions, fjnd most such efforts are likely to remain stalled until the impasse at the national level Is

At tho national level, the renewed Communist insistence on direct participation In the Cabinet and the Christian Democrats' refusal to meet these demands are the most serious barriers fa compromise. Since the Socialists refuse to support any government that excludes th* Communists, it Is unlikelyormula acceptable to the parties can be reached without an early election.

Even an election might not overcome these difficulties. ote that does not appreciably change the Italian political equation in numericalcurrentreinforce the Impression thatenewal of Christianommunist cooperationay out. Thus, tho parties rrig^iti^jtentually have to reconsider compromises they have already rejected.

olution, which was never specifically offered by the Christian Democrats nor rejected by the Communists,ledge of greater cooperation between the parties at the local level, that is, full Comunist participationegional aoainistrations in theicily, and the northeast. This alternative would probably be partarger cccsproalse that Included some independent leftists associated with the'Comsunists In Cabinet postsreaterty in national government policymaking and ioplecentationj

(it Is uncertain whether local Christian Democrats would resist or obey directives froa the national party to surrender some administrative authority to the Communists. Since interparty tensions reappeared first In thethey are frequentlyprobably cannot be submerged so sasilyjp

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