THE ITALIAN COMMUNIST PARTY
Communist party (PCI) still commands tbs support of about ods in every four Italian voters, easy of shoe vots for tbe Communistscans of protest against the KOvsronent. The Improvement sines World War II In Italy's standard of living has not ovsrcooe the maldistribution of vealtb and uneaployneot which the Cooaaunlsts exploit. The Coa-nunlsts have also profited iron the instability of Italian cabinets in recent years and from tbe government's failure to reflectin any considerable Measure tbe voting trsnde to the left.
The party's Immediate aln
ls to block the threat of political Isolation laplicit in attempts by ita former sunnorter, Socialist leader Pietro Sr.n. to bring bis party Into an alllaaee wltb ths center partlea.
Since Giuseppe Saragat apllt ths Socialists7
the Communists have been ths second-largest political ele-nent la Italy. They have their voting ateadlly despite foreign and domestic developments. Their electorals particularly reaark-
all-off In the strsngth of the party's labor arm and the defection of Pietro Sean i, leader of the Italian Socialist party.
Communist party oeaber-shlp claias have declined4 to less in. Sons estimates put It as low0 as of The Communist party vote has cons ist-sntly been strong In central and northern Italy, and in tbehe party expanded ita efforts In tbe south. In ths nationwide voting forcouncils last year, however, the aouth showed a loss of about one percent despite a slight national gain for tbe Communists over Although there was some retrenchment In Its press program, during tho slump following ths Hungarian revolution, ths party's dally Units maintains irculation comparable to that of Italy's largest newspaper.
Communist-dominated Labor Confederation (COIL) has more aembers than Italy's two major frse unions combined, and ths number of CGIL offices manned by Coaaunlsts Is far out of to ths numbsr of among meabers. In shop steward elections, nearly 50 percent of Industrial labor aupports the COIL however, these Socialists aa sell as Communists.
Like the other partlss, the Communists in recent years nave had difficulty Inyouths; tbe Coaaunlst youth federation, the PCCI, has in membership from
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women'sI. ha* also fallen off, Joint Soclallet-Commun1st organsuch as tbe "Committee forof the South" havo been abandoned by the Suciallats snrt have largelyalthough the
Soclallata continue to participate lnorganisations such as the CGIL and the nationalof resistance fighterssas ln consumer and other cooperatives that are dominated by the.
At the same time an influx of postwar Communists into the PCI central committee and asof provincial partyhas reduced thedynamism by bringing ln persons without experience of party discipline under stress. It can be expected to result In tractlonallaation over controversial issues such as Moscow's policies, thehandling of tbe Nennldefection, and Commu-alat cooperation with rightists--aa occurred in the Siciliangovernment.
Prominent Communist deputy Glancarlo Pajetta is reported to have become Involved during tho past two weeks ln an lntra-party disagreement regarding relations with Nennl. Aof the party directorate, Pajotta had been mentionedossibility to succeed party Secretary Palmlronowhe does not appear to have the necessary party-wide support.
Giorgio Amendola,eputy of and directoratesightuccessorasore flexible approach than Pajetta andpast relations with Nennl, although ln recent years Nennl and Amendola have carried on bitter polemics. Togiiatti's deputy, Lulglero of the anti-fascist resiwtance and more blindly responsive to Moscow than Is is perhaps more often mentionedossible successor. 3hould the Soviets revert to the hard lioe, deputy Pletrcard-core revolutionary, mi,:in emergeontender.
Thus fat Togllat-ti has successfully
played off potential rivals, and bin eventual successor nayark boras,
flourcss of Weaaness
Once It bad lost Ita bid for political poser la the ln-nedlate postwar ysars. tbe PCI bad to work under Increasingly difficult conditions. Italy's econoalc situation Improved; tbe party was obliged toto the unpopular Soviet cold-war llee; and financial contributions from Moscow were declining.
Tbe situation wasby the line taken by Khrushchev's policy at tbe Soviet party congressbe Italian party was disrupted and disoriented and lost sucb prominent and capable Members IB Antonio Olollttl, Itsspokesman, and En-genlo Reals, diplomat and former party treaaurer. At the name time Pietro Nenni publiclytbe basic systems of both Soviet and Italian Com-munlBm.
Tbe moat severe blow to PCI prestige wss probably tbe break with tbe Italian Socialist party. Since Hanoi announced tbe end of the uolty-of-action pact wltb the Communistsbe two parties have engagedonllnuoua eontroverey,Communists and SocialistsstatMiri closely Identified in
bodies. On the vote confirming ranfaol's government Inhe Socialists for the first time Inears abstained In preference to Joining the Communists in the opposition. In0 the Socialists for ths first tins presented provincial election slates in competition wltb Communist lists.
The prospect of PCIisolation sharpened in1 when tbe Christian Deaocr
accepted SocialistIn forming municipalin the key cities of Milan and Genoa.
SOurcea Of Strength
Despite these blows, tho Italian Communist partyprobably views the future with some optlalem. Rumors that Togllattl le about to be replaced have died down during the past year, and his position in international Communism ls relatively high. After some initial hesitation overcriticism of Stalin he quickly stepped Into Hoe, and now ls firmly behindin the Sino-Sovlet diepute, although friction on the Issue continues within the party.
He may anticipate that Soviet foreign policy will create less difficulty for the Italian party than was usually tbe case In, but even If he ls called on toew switch, he probably hopes to rely heavily on the Increased prestige the USSR has derived In recent years, Tbe Soviets' success In orbiting the first space satellite in the fall7 and their more recent Tonus probs offer drams ticfor Italian Communist
The Italian Communist party, besides being acceptedespectable political group, has heavily penetrated the Italian cultural field. Furthermore, the party retains Its wartime prestige as leader of tbe anti-fascist resistance, and It wae natural for theand members of the center parties to Join tbeIn the anti-faaclet rallies which precipitated tbe downfall of Premier Tambronl In While politically motivated strikes called by the Communists no longerthe mass responsenlst agitators were able to
elicit Just after tbe wari tbe riots thisowed that Issues such ss aotl-Pasclsai caa still elicit Joint action wltb the Communists. In the eprlng0 tbe Communists were able to exploit die- orders betweenod government parstroope in Plea and Leghorn.
t'll of short strikes later0ew urgency In labor'a demands. Management no longeragainst tho Communists In order to secure US-backed contracts for manufacture of military materlale, and reoent shop steward elections have again given the COIL strong support. Oa genuine economic issues tbe Cbrletlan Democratic and Social Democratic labor unions participate In strike sctivlty with tbe COIL, ss la the December walkout ofa .
Moreover, Italy's basic socio-economic Ilia, which tbe CooaunlBta haws long decried, are still to be cured. The disparity Id wealth between nortb and south has not been overcome aod maldistribution of wealth between aooisl clamaeB la atlll great. While ths la-dustrlsl norther capita
naTibe national average ladown drastically by large
poverty-strlokeo areas In the south, where, In contrast with tbe national trend, the latest flguree show Income down and unemployment up; economicIn the south closslythose of Greece and Portugal. Evan allowing for the reported one-third reduotlon of unemployment In the past two years,ercent of tbe labor force0 is atlll Jobless, and many others ars
Then, too, Improvement of tbe economy has crested aof expectations" which belpa the Communists, In the November local elections,they lost in tbesouth where they bad earlier abown brief gains, tbe Communists recouped in the proBpsrouaand northern Italy--where they bad earlier been losing ground. Despite the Impact of the Hungarian revolt on Italian opinion, large numbers of voters In Italy sre willing to express their dlssatlBfsctton with their own governmentrotest vote for the extreme left.
The domination of the nationalby one party during virtually all of the postwar period glvea the Communlste an increasinglyissue. Into charges of legislative Inaction, they have been able to
cite such specific cases of official
corruption as th* sonteal scan-dal3 and tha Gluffrc financial awlndla lnboth of which allegedlyChrlatlan Democratic cabinetwell aa the current uproar overfor the new Rome airport at Flumlclno. Tbe Communists have astutely soft-pedaled tbe issue oftressing rather tbe cynicism and general malaise which has developed Ln Italy during tbe Christianmonopoly of power.
Tbe Christian Democrats probably realize thatatter of practical politics, their ability to keep their own party together derives In some degree from their posture asof Itsly from the largest Communist group outside the Slno-Sovlet bloc. Possibly for this reason, they have failed to take effective action againat the Communists ln someit would seem to have beensa curtailing East-west trade, on which tbe psrty is frequentlyecret commission. In sdditlon the minor parties supporting tbe government are reluctsnt to urge legal measures wblcb,designed to curb the Communist party, mightthreaten their own civil liberties.
Important,overnmentgroups ofOUJIW ccononlc ideology to agree on needed socio-economichas resultederies of short-lived cabinets and the narrowing of tbe center parties' parliamentaryto leasercent. The Christian Democrats'right-wing minority last year prsvented the party fromiableroadenedbaaed on Socialistsupport. Such tactics threaten to drive the Socialist* back into the opposition mif"-the Communists.
The failure of Italian governments to reflect tbe national voting trend to the left aleo swells Communist support. Last summer the Christian Democrstlc Tambronl government'stbe disapproval of all otherneo-Fasclstsupport permitted tbe Communists to achieve solidarity wltb the democratic parties ln antl-Pssclst demonstrations, which in some cases tbeturned Into bloody riots. The situation gave them an opportunity to attempt aof Cosniunlst-SoclallBt cooperation whlcb wouldoadblock In tbe waysp-prochement between the Socialism and tbe Christian Democrats.
Thehrlstlsn Democratic coalition in the Milan and Genoa citybaa reportedly led PCI leaders to disagree overore flexible attitude should be adopted toward tbe Socialists ln order to avoid eventualon tbe national level. Tbe immediate CommunistIS to Stymie Nennl's St-temptto win broad Socialist backingove towardwith tbe Chrlatlan Democrats following the' March congress.
Communist mans appeal and
voting strength dependon factors outside the party: the state of the world's proaperlty, tbe cold war, Commninlat Ideological turns, and tbe domesticand partioularly thepolicies of tbe Italian Government. In the short run, formationightistwould push tbe moderateincluding left-wing Christian Democrats--toward Joining ranks with tbe Communistsind of popular front. In the long run, an authoritarian government which deferredindefinitely would face
tbe threat of disturbancesleading- to civil ear. Some political Isadoracontinue to fear that former premiers Taabroni or Scelba or some other rightist leader will return to power and espouse such methods.
Formationocialist-supported government wblcb would undertake basic socio-economic reforms la obviously feared by Communist strategists. Even underovernment,the damage to partywould probably be gradual, The poverty in some areas is still sufficiently intense and the appetite for consumerhas been sufficientlyelsswbere to keep tbe Italian populace vulnerable to class-war propaganda.
The party's propaganda machine has shown Itself adept at magnifying the effect ofild recession like thatnd at tbe same time attributing all economic galna to Communist pressure on the
business and political Tbe habit of protest-voting is deeply ingrained in Italy, and if the PCI becomes the only opposition party on the left it will probably be able to draw the protest vote until thesomeemergesemocratic alternative to Christian Democratic
If, on the other band, an Italian government arliamentary majorityby Socialist support should fail to act onreforms, Nenni's party could be expected toate similar to that ofSocialist Saragat. When Saragat split away from Nennle took more than half the Socialist deputies with bina result of histo influence tbe govern-nent's socialnow controls less than one fifth as many aa Nennl. This time, the lost deputies would go to the Communists.
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