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Implications of the Center-Left Experiment in Italy

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Implications of the Center-Left Experiment in Italy







Collaboration is Formalized and

Center-Left Collaboration Is



cooperation inso-called "openingsucceeded quite well since lis initiationhe coalition has hung together, the parties havethe resiliency necessary to survive the vicissitudesrule, and some important legislation has beenhave been no fundamental changes in Italianalthough Fanfanl's ambiguous performance duringcrisis may have been an effort to avoid actionswhich might upset)

present arrangement for Socialist parliamentaryof the Christian Democratic-Socialis clearly viewed by the parties themselves as anConceivably, this arrangement could gc onwe believe that the leaders of both the major partiescome so far, will seek within the next year or twotheir collaboration and bring the Socialists into

Christian Democrats will probably require furtherof Socialist diasociation from the Communists beforeto formalization and extension of their collaborationSocialists. Collaboration has been increased sinceChristian Democratic-Socialist local coalitionsestablished. At the same time, Socialist-Communisthave been increased. Nevertheless, the Socialistsparticipation in the General Confederation of Labor, which

it is unlikely that they will withdraw for some years to come. If the Socialists can and will take some further steps towardfrom the Communists, the Christian Democraticcan probably obtain party backing for broader collaboration after the elections. )

parliamentary elections which will take place3 will probably not produce any dramaticthe party distribution of the Italian electorate. Theprobably neither repudiate center-left collaboration nortrovertibly endorse it. It is possible that collaborationsuspended or dissolved between now and tho elections, butwould not itself prejudice re-establishment ofthe elections. )

collaboration is formalized and extended over asome years, significant changes in Italian political lifeSome leftist elements within the Socialist Partybreak off and ally themselves with thewould be strong pressure for the resorption of theParty into the Socialist Party. The isolation andof Communist strength would come about slowlydepend greatly upon the depth and duration ofcollaboration and the degree to whicheconomic reforms were in fact achieved. We believewould come about only if the Socialistsexplicit commitments than they have to dateparticipation and active cooperation ln NATO andEconomic Community, and we believe theprovide such commitments. Nevertheless, theirin the government would probably lead to some changesconduct of Italian foreign policy and probably to someof support for US and allied positions on internationalon those not directly related to the North )

consequences of terminating center-leftdepend greatly upon the conditions under whichoccurred, how long the collaboration had endured,had been accomplished during its existence. If the cir-

i drive th

cumstances were such as to "drive the Socialists back into the arms of the Communists, the consequences would be worse than if the experiment had never been tried. We believe the Christian Democrats would be aware of the dangers ofreakup and would seek ways ofolarization of political forces. We believe they would not give themselves over to rightistwould try to adhereeft-of-center course, and would leave open the possibility of re-establishing collaboration with the Socialists. Termination of center-left cooperation wouldItaly with serious problems of government, but it would not necessarily leadrisis of regime. )

O. It is noteworthy that the center-left experiment has been initiatederiod when Italy is enjoying rapid andeconomic growth. Gross national product rose by eight percentnd unemployment hasercent. The economic lot of the average Italian has improved, but many of the old problems remain. Italian wage levels are still the lowest in tho EEC, and southern Italy remains poverty-stricken and economically underdeveloped. The experiment does not appear to have significantly affected the so-called Italian economic2 will also register high growth rates although possibly slightly below thosePara. 0)




The formation inenter-left coalitiondepending upon the parliamentary support of the ItalianParty, led by Plctro Nenni, is the most important change in Italian politicshe new coalition, led by Amintore Fanfani, consists of the Christian Democratic, Social Democratic, and Republican Parties. The arrangement for Socialist parliamentary support la based upon an informal agreement between the Socialists and the coalition partners, and it does not extend to all matters. Nevertheless, Itajor reversal of policy for the Christian Democratic Party, which took the final decision to enter Into this arrangement only after much soul-searching and years of discussion and preparation.

One of the most important factors encouraging this steprior3 the Christian Democratic Party held an absolute majority of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies. In the general elections ot that year the Christian Democrats lost thismajority but retained enough strength to enable them, by combining with the Social Democrats, the Republicans, and theLiberals, toare parliamentary majority. However, governingoalition dependent upon Social Democratic votes on the left and Liberal votes on the rightery difficult task; these two parties were so far apart on domestic issues that little Important legislation could be enacted. Moreover, the Christian Democratic Party itselftrong right-wing faction and was unable toonsistent and unified approach to Italy's domestic problems. The general elections8 somewhat improved the strength of the center parties, but difTerences among them still prevented the emergence of strong and effective government. Nevertheless, these elections didlight shift toward the moderate leftecline in the extreme right. Within the Christian Democratic Party the left and center factions were somewhat strengthened.7 on, the Communists and Socialists, who came to control almostercent of the Chamber of Deputies, were in opposition.

evelopments within the international Communistdisoriented the Italian left. Thetalinist revelations of Khrushchev and the suppression of the uprising in Hungary shook the Italian Communist Party io its foundations anderies

1 See table on pageor the party dlatrlbuUon or seats In the Chamber of Deputies resulting from the elections of IMS.ndA pic chart (Figurehows the current distribution of parliamentary strengths.

of in Ira party debate*oss of party morale which continue to this day. Morearge sector within the Socialist Party,Nenni himself, became increasingly disillusioned with Sovietbegan to view association with the Communists as damaging to their Interests, and initiated moves to disengage from the Communists.

A number of other developments occurred which made the so-called "opening to thesubject which had been widely discussed since themore approachable goal One was the failure of the experiment undertaken0 by the Christian Democrats to workoalition with the extreme right (the brief and turbulent Tambroninother was the growing trend toward the creation of Christian Democratic-Socialist coalitions in the local governments of numerous cities and towns in north and central Italy, including most of the major industrial areas of the country. Finally, the apparent effort of the new Pope to withdraw the Church from an active role in Italian poliUcs and the willingness of the hierarchy to tolerate center-left cooperation as an experiment left the Christian Democratic leaders freeossible Vutlcan veto if they succeeded inorking relationship with the Socialists.

In the last analysis, it was the determination and political acumen of the leaders of both parties which finally brought off the agreement oft required considerable planning and skill over the post five years for Fanfani and Mora in the Christian Democratic Party and Nenni in the Italian Socialist Party to win sufficient consent in their own parties to undertake the experiment. For Nenni, ln his declining years, this experiment is an effort to leave the ranks of the opposition, toole in shaping the new Italy,win for the Socialists the leadership of the Italian left. For most of the Christian Democratic leaders, tho experiment Is regarded as the only acceptable way of avoiding the weaknesses of minority government, of broadening the base of Italian democracy and insuring the continuation of parliamentary government, of isolating the Communist Party and drawing away its mass following, and of undertaking andeform program to correct the evils and imbalances in Italy's social and economic structure.

It would appear to be paradoxical that this cooperation between center and left, between Catholics and Socialists, should have been initiated, noteriod of national crisis, but rather when the Italian economy waseriod of rapid and unprecedentedgrowth.taly's gross national product (GNP) increased by about eight percent. In the same year gross investment amounted toercent of ONP. and exports rose byercent. Unemployment has been reduced toercent, and shortages of skilled labor exist ln some industries. The economic lot of the average Italian has

Improved, but many of the old problems of Italy still exist. Italian wage levels are still the lowest ln the European Economic Communitynd southern Italy remains poverty-stricken and economically underdeveloped. The economic expansion ol the north has in factproblems for both north and south; migration to the north has stripped the south of many of its best trained and most energetic workers and added new population to the already congested community facilities of the north. The experiment does not appear to haveaffected the so-called Italian economic2 will also register high growth rates although possibly slightly below those


lt appears that the current rapid economic expansionrather than deterred, tlie materialization of center-leftIt has made the experiment seem less dangerous thanthere was now less reason for radical measures, and itthe experiment more likely to succeed because there wereand economic resources with which to work and less fearreforms would lead to economic stagnation. Finally, theseeing Italian life being reshaped by economic change,seen the opportunity to win some of the credit forweakening their political competitors on the extreme leftright.


to Date. No postwar Italian Government has beenso much controversy, with so much advance preparation, ormanyon Its progress. The Fanfanihas, thus far, succeeded quite well. Some importantbeen passed in the fields of economic planning, education, andNationalization of electric power, one of the majorto Nenni, has been approved by Parliament. Thehas hung together and. to date at least, has demonstratednecessary to survive the vicissitudes of coalitionsurvived the wheeling and dealing of the presidential elections,of formulating and enacting the electric power bill, andtest provided by local elections ln June and November ofthe elections appear to have strengthened the cooperationthe parties; additional Christian Democratic-Socialistbeen established ln local jurisdictions, and today most of thein Italy are administered by center-left coalitions.

oreign Policy. Since Its investiture, the coalition has adhered strictly to the principal cornerstones of Italian foreignand the EEC. The Socialists neither sought nor received anyregarding foreign policy, exceptroad statement that Italy


would work with her allies loward Che peaceful solution of International problems. If there has been any change ln policy since the coalition was formed, itatter of tone rather than substance, of emphasis rather thansome cf these changes in tone would probably have occurred in any case, simplyonsequence of growing Italian self-confidence. Nevertheless, the support of the Socialists for thedoes pose problems. Fanfani's ambiguous performance during the Cuban crisis may have been. In part at least, an effort to avoid actions or pronouncements which might upset coalition arrangements or prospects.

Socialist foreign policy Is officially neutralist, but In factro-Soviet coloration during the days of Socialist-CommunistToday, the Socialists interpret neutralism differently. They now say that "to withdraw from NATO under present conditions would Jeopardize the European equilibrium" and might up3et the present "truce" between blocs. What they desire is an Italian policy which, while remaining loyal to Italy's commitments within the Western Alliance, is directedetente which makes military blocs unnecessary. In general they oppose military buildups and military solutions, favor compromises on international Issues, and believe that the West should rely upon those In underdeveloped areas who "espouse liberal andideals" rather than upon "ultra-conservatives" and "militaryThese foreign policy views, though not in direct conflict with those of many Social Democrats and some Christian Democrats, nevertheless do suggest considerably less agreement with someWestern foreign policy views than that demonstrated by past Italian governments. On the other hand, the Socialists approve of European integration, favor EEC, and want to see the UK enter the Common Market

The Question of Continuance. The present arrangement between the coalition parties and the Socialists Is clearly viewed by both sides as an experiment. It goes as far as the Christian Democratic and SocialLst Parties permitted their leaders to go, and neither party appears to want to alter this arrangement before new parliamentary elections take place in April or Mayenni has recently calledive-year pact with the coalition parties and is apparently prepared to widen his collaboration after the elections, but the Christian Democrats will probably require further evidence of Socialist dissociation from the Communists before seriously consideringact. The strength of the present informal arrangement lies partly in Its limited nature and partly In the desire of Nenni, Fanfani, and Moro to make it work.It could go on Indefinitely, but we believe that the present leaders of both parties, having come so far, will seek within the next year or two to formalize their collaboration and bring the Socialists into the Cabinet. Whether they can go so far depends, of course, upon

a variety of considerations, Including the situation in the partiesand the election outcome.

The Problem within the Christian Democratic Party. TheDemocratic Party conlains powerful figures who remain opposed to collaboration with the Socialists; these include the ex-Premiers Pella. Scelba, and Tambronl. They would certainly prefer to terminate the arrangement; at present they are doing their best to keep lt as limited as possible. They are callingeneral "clarification" of Socialist-Communist relations. They make much of continued Socialistin the Communist-led General Confederation of Labor, and they point out that the government's policy of establishing semi-autonomous regional governments could open the way for Communist-Socialistin some important areas of the country. These are problems with which Fanfani and the other party leaders must cope if they are to satisfy their opponents that the course of collaboration isangerous one. If the Socialists can and will take some further steps toward dissociation from the Communists, the Christian Democratic leadership can probably obtain party backing for broader collaboration with the Socialists after the parliamentary elections.

The Situation within the Socialist Party. Nenni's problem within the Italian Socialist Party appears to be at least as difficult us that of Fanfani and Moro. His margin of victory for authorizing collaboration with the Christian Democrats was narrow, and much of the left wing of his party remains obdurately opposed to the loosening of Socialist-Communist ties. Nevertheless, the success of Nenni in gettingapproved which the party has desired has strengthened hla position, and he probably now has wider support within the party forwith the Christian Democrats than he has had in the past. But the carrtsti, the party's left wing, are clamoring for the fullof the government's program and are resisting even tokento the coalition partners that the Socialists are moving further away from cooperation with the Communists.

Socialist Cooperation with the Communists. There is continuing Socialist-Communist cooperation in the various labor, consumer,and other cooperatives. The Socialists nnd the Communists also still collaborate in many more communal and provincial governments than do the Socialists and Christian Democrats. However, most are small cities and towns, Bologna being the only major city still runocialist-Communist administration. Many more people, by far, are governed by Christian Democratic-Socialist local administrations than by Communist-Socialist ones.

Socialist-Communist cooperation is closest In the Generalof Labor, whose membership totalsillion and In which the Communistsredominant role. The Socialist leaders have

resisted pressures upon them to withdraw their workers, or at least to permit their workers to withdraw, from the Confederation. Their goal, they say, is tonified labor movement free or political(oil three Italian labor federations are partynd in any event many Socialist labor leaders and workers are so entrenched in the Confederation machinery that it would be personallyto withdraw. Although the Socialists probably will make some gestures toward greater cooperation with the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats on matters of labor policy, it appears unlikely that they will withdraw from trade union cooperation with the Communists (or some years to come. Meanwhile, thereanger that theleadership of the Confederation mighttrike inanner as to provoke government suppression, and this wouldevere strain on Christian Democratic-Socialist political collaboration.

Consequences of the Experiment for the Comtnunist Party,collaboration has made some progress toward its goal ofand isolating the Communists. It has sown further dissension and confusion ln their ranks, and lt has stimulated Socialist-Communist polemics on both internal and foreign policy matters. The Communists lost votes Ui2 local elections, although it cannot be demonstrated that this lossonsequence of theirmay have had other causes. The Communists have reacted to the prospect ofisolation by identifying themselves with the most popular features of the government program. They have, of course, made the most of the sensitive points of difference between the Socialists and thepartners, especially internal security and trade union matters. They have considerable means for applying pressure on the Socialists In the Labor Confederation and ln the cooperatives; they almostwill step up the pressures as the spring elections approach.

The General Electionst is possible that collaboration may be suspended or dissolved between now and the elections to permit the parties greater freedom In campaigning. Collaboration may founder in the next few months on some such issue as theof additional regional governments. Should this occur, lt would not reduce the importance of the electionsajor test of the center-left experiment and would not In itself prejudice re-establishment of collaboration after the elections. There will probably be some changes in the electoral system, ln particular an increase in the size of the Chamber of Deputies likely to enlarge the representation of thecities of the north. This will probably in Itself result In some increase in leftist strength ln the new chamber.

We believe it unlikely that the election results will producechanges in the party distribution of the Italian electorate. The extreme rightists will probably lose further strength, some of this going

to the Liberals, and the Communists might also lose some ground. There will probablyontinuation of the slow drift to the left of center within the electoratehole. Any gains for the Socialists and Social Democrats, and any losses by the Communists, would be interpreted as justification for continuing and broadening center-left collaboration. Indeed, it may be that the leftist and left-center gains which probably will occur willatural product of this collaboration, although it may nol be demonstrable on purely objective grounds.

hile the Italian voters will almost certainly not repudiate the principle of center-left collaboration, neither is it likely that their voting pattern will lncontrovertibly endorse it. Nor is it likely that the results will so change the political arithmetic as to eliminate thosewhich led to the initiation of the experiment in the first place. In any case, the two major parties involved will probably still beby divisions within their ranks and the need to take account of Irreconcilable elements within their parties. More significant, however, the election results, whatever they may be, will not erase the basic Ideological differences between the two major parties, and they will not enable the Socialists at one easy stroke to separate themselves finally and completely from the Communists.


collaboration hasolitical fact In Italya year. It has had some successes, it has weaknesses, and itwhich must be surmounted if it is to continue or toparliamentary elections will not eliminate either the weaknessesproblems. We believe the chances are good that the experimentor even be expanded, after the parliamentary elections,of the factors Involved are so complex and unpredictable thatestimate its longer term future with confidence. In thebelow, we consider some of the consequences which mighteither broadening or terminating the present arrangement.

A. If Collaboration is Formalized and Broadened

collaboration, whether or not it provided fordirect Socialist participation in the government, wouldchanges fn the parties involved. The Socialist left wingbeen somewhat reduced in size and influence, but some ofalways have been and remain pro-Communist, andbreak oH and ally themselves with the Communists.Christian Democrats would probably not breakfor Catholic political unity have always been strong andso. They remain unreconciled and uncooperative, neitherto party discipline nor openly rebellious, hoping forof the coalition ln order to reassert their leadership, As col-

developed, most ol these opponents would probably become reconciled to it and seek toole within it.

Progress toward the major goals of center-left collaboration, namely executionrogram of major social and economic reforms and isolation and reduction of Communist political strength, would come slowly and depend greatly upon the depth and duration of tho collaboration among the parties. The longer the relationship went on. the more changes in Italian society would be made, and the greater the chance that Communist strength would be sapped. It should be noted, however, that while some Communist voters in Italy are merely poverty-stricken people who might be expected to desert the cause once economic bettermentact, others are dedicatedhorough revamping of Italian society, and these will probably neveratholic parly can or will consent to the changes they desire. In our view, continuing and deepening collaboration would indeed produce more and much needed reforms, but it would probably not lead to an early and dramatic reduction in Communist popular support.

Continuation of the experiment would probably cause some changes within the Italian left. The Social Democratic Party would lose Its ration d'etre, and there would be strong pressure for itsinto the Italian Socialist Party. If the coalition then broke up, the center might have permanently lost an Important component. On the other hand,nified party would be more moderate and closer to the center than the present Socialist Party. We doubt that the trade union movement would become reunified for many years to come. The General Confederation would probably continue to be led byalthough the degree of Communist control might gradually be reduced.

We assume that the present coalition partners would not agree to formalization and extension of their agreement with the Socialistsmore explicit commitments regarding continued Italianand active cooperation in NATO and the EEC. The Socialists have alreadyapacity for modifying some of their historic doctrines: wc believe they will provide such commitments and Indeed they might even go so far as toationalization for supporting current lercls of military expenditure. Nevertheless, theirin the government would probably lead to some changes In the conduct of Italian foreign policy and probably to some reduction of support for US and allied positions on some international issues,on those not directly related to the North Atlantic Alliance. Individual issues would probably be decided as they arose, and some ofas those related to nuclearbe very difficult for the coalition to resolve. It is possible that on some particularly difficult problem the coalition would collapse. It should be noted again

that thereecular trend toward greater Italian Independence In foreign policy, and the Italians will probably strivearger voice both inside and outside the councils of the West, whether the Socialists participate in the government or not.

B. If Center-Left Collaboration is Terminated

The consequencesermination of the center-led collaboration would, of course, depend greatly upon the conditions under which il occurred, how long collaboration had endured, what had beenduring its existence, and what changes in party alignments and strength had occurred during its tenure. Forharp shift In leadership In either party would probably foreclose further efforts toward collaboration for perhaps years to come. On the otherreakup after several years, especially If the Socialists had already broken most of their remaining Lies with the Communists, would probably be lessocialiston the left, though disgruntled, would be less dangerous to the future of Italian democracy than Lhc Socialist-Communist unity of Ave years ago. In any event, if the circumstances of the breakup were such as to drive the Socialists back into the arms of the Communists, and if in addition the Social Democratic Party had given up separate existence, the consequences would be worse than if the experiment had never been attempted in the first place.

On the whole, we believe that the dangersreakup under the conditions we have just described are fully appreciated by Lhc Christian Democrats. These dangers will, in effect, deter them from permitting center-left collaboration to terminate in acrimony and lead them to seek ways ofolarization of political forces. If the present Christian Democratic leaders come to the point where they can no longer compromise issues with the Socialists and feel that they must terminate the arrangement, we believe that they will not give themselves up to rightist leadership within the party or lead it into cooperation with the extreme right. Havingrogressive force, they would probably seek to keep that image alive, trying to win left-of-center votes to their own standard while leaving open the possibility of re-establishing collaboration with the Socialists.

Termination of Christian Democratic-Socialist cooperation would, of course, create serious problems of government. The Christianif they sought to govern alone, wouldery difficult time patchingorking parliamentary majority. There would probably be recurrent governmental crises, some of which might be tense and prolonged. At the worst, continuation of parliamentary government might become impossible. On the other hand, the leaders

of the Christian Democratic and Socialistthe face of threatened politicalfind some way of composing their differences or at least ofodus Vivendi, We "believe that this course would be more likelyreakdown of parliamentary government.




Democrats .




Bloc .



. 14



combination made up largely of the Liberals and tlie National Reconstruction Union.

Democratic Front of Communists and Socialists.


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