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THE EROSION OF ITALIAN7
Italy's recent cabinet crisis, the most severerepublic's history, has revived memories of thewhich preceded the abandonment ofin. The decreasing viability ofcoalition has intensified pressure on thetolear-cut choice of allies fromor left, and there has been talk of rightistseize power by force. Ambitious Premiercaretaker mandate runs out in October, mightto take extralegal measures in an effort toof his government by one relying on theparliamentary support.
THE WEEK IN BRIEF
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EROSION OF ITALIAN DEMOCRACY
recent cabinet crisis in Italy, the most severe in the republic's history, hasmemories of the near-anarchy which preceded theof parliamentaryin. Theviabilityenterhas intensified pressure on the ruling Christian Democrats
tolear-cut choice of allies from the right or left, and there has been talk ofefforts to seize power by force. Ambitious Premierwhose caretaker mandate runs out onctober, might be tempted to take extralegal measures to block replacement of his government by one relying
on the Nenni Socialists'support.
Shaky Democratic Base
A century of nationalot sufficed to Implant the democratic process in Italy, andyear-old Italian Republic has nover had the choice ofdemocratic alternative to the party inn the years when they were nationally allied, the Communists and the Nenni Socialists in effectthe size of the Chamber of Deputiesemocratic body byhird, without counting the further reduction effected by the parties of the far right, the nco-Fasclsts and the Even today, when the Nenni Socialists and Monarchists have acquired at least quasl-respectability, the Communists and the noo-Fascists holduarter of the parliamentary seats.
The Christian Democratsarliamentary majority8ut have since been dependent on the small center parties farin governing. enter coalition has becomemore difficult to maintain because of growing ideological dissension among tbe various center groups, and Italy'sgovernment's initial, promise to confine itself to caretaker functions and resign after six months.
In the 3eafchroader parliamentary base, the faction-
ridden Christian Domocratichas been unable to decideleft and right. Tambroni'i reliance.on neo-Fascistsupportlimmajority ia opposed by left-wing Christian Democrats, who accepted it onlyummer Similarly, the party's powerful rightist minority has been able to block formationovernment dependent on Nenni Socialist abstentions.
ernnients have becomevulnerable to .the accusa Lion of "immobilismo." The political stalemate ls.appro-prlatelv symbolized by the pre
In the Italy of recent months, anarchy and authoritarianism have attain become serious threats, andro -Democratic dally in Naples warnod onpril that unless the Italian people rouse themselves from their contempt forinstitutions, there is danger that the country may "in the not-too-distant future" find itself in.
the grasp of another totalitarian
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One specific danger todemocracy in this situation, is that, as the cohesion andstrength of thecenter has declined, party leaders have tended to seekoutside parliament. This problem was stressed by Senate President Cesare Merzagora in February, when Premier Segnirather than rely solely on Monarchist and neo-Fascist votes. Merzagora argued that it was improper for theto quit While it had amajority.
Merzagora stressed that only two postwar cabinets had been brought down by nonconfi-dence votes in parliament, and he denounced the "persistent and unhealthy" practice ofin extraparliamentary crises in which cabinets were brought down as the result of pressures within the Christian Democratic party. Merzagora included in his attack on Italy's multiparty system the
charge that the Constitutional Court and President Gronchi, ai
chief of stato, wereon the legislative branch.
Merzagora'b speech was widely commented on In the Italian press. Of the two major independent papers, one considered lt ill-advised, the
other felt it had "pinpointed the malaise afflicting Italian life." The neo-Fascist press seized on lt as indicating the crisis within the regime, and to push for an authoritarian system. One center-left paper saw Merzagora as the spokesman for "conservative and economic" interests wishing to oxploit the situation toegime like that in Portugal.
Despite Merzagora'sindictment, the
Christian Democratic party has continued to ignore the spirit of the constitution in carrying out its decisions. Premier Tambroniote of confidence In the lower housepril, but his party disregarded theapprovaleluctant Tambroni to withdraw rather than depend on the neo-Fascists. The Christian Democratic directorate then called on Amintore Fanfani toenter-left govornment, but the party's parliamentary group doffed this order and forced Fanfani to retire.
Tambroni was restored to office by tho Senate's vote of confidence onpril, but no effort was made to comply with the constitutional provisionremier must bewithin ton days of.
Tambroni's has beenparatroop government,"In part because thesituation presents several elements propitiousuick and violent seizure of power. The ruling party cannot decide on its own orientation; although the electorate has been moving to tbe left, the government has accepted neo-Fascist support.
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and concern among political and economic right-wingers and some members of the clergy overossibility of an "opening" to the Nenni Socialists might be sufficient to encourage amove to prevent it.
democratic overtones occurred at Pisa and Leghorn during March; these involvedof-ficer-led paratroops singing fascist songs. Disturbances were fomented by noo-Fascists and Monarchists ln Rome duringune celebration of theh anniversary.
The Communists have reportedly ordered resumption ofactivities, and throe arms caches have been discovered in the1 Bologna area. olicehas called the present climate the worst he has seen6 when an attempted assassination of Communist leader Togliattl led toCommunist disturbances.
For wanttrongthe most likely development if the Christian Democrats fall to workiable democratic government would seem to be some form of extralegaladventure by Tambronl when his mandate expires. ersonality would lend Itself to such an effort. He has been described as "an unscrupulous opportunist of theh century type, without the brainsh century adventurers but perfectly willing to makewith left and right."
In early April, beforecompiled with his party's order to resign, rumors were rife that he had met with police leaders and his defenseChristianmake plans to ensure his continuation ln office. There was talkeo-Fascist show of strength in his support, and the Communist-dominated General Laborwas rumored alertedrotest strike.
Some of this concern seems to be shared by Presidentwhose attitude towardhas been ambivalent. Groncbl is reported to have said that Tambronl, when he was premier-designate in April, ap-nearod to believe hoission
and the backing of popularwhatever parliament or the parties might have thought. Now that heemporary lease on power, he may try to prolong it on one pretext or another.
Although local elections have been called for this fall, he is probably capable ofthe results to suit his own plans at that tins. He might seek to postpone national elections indefinitely--awith some appeal to the Christian Democrats, who expect losses for themselves and gains for the leftist parties invoting. Strikes oragainst such anof power would givean excuse to enlist the aid of the military.
If left-wing Christian Democrats make another attompt this fall toenter-left government based on Socialist
abstentions, Tambroni will be tempted to accept the support of tbe Group for Defense of the Republic, which was recently formed to prevent such an "opening." This group,onay, includes former fascist activist Pino Romualdi, right-wing Christian Democrat and former Premier Giuseppe Pella, Civic Committees chief Lulgl Gedda, Catholic Action president Agostlno Maltarella, Pacclardl, and Gugllelrao Gian-nlni, former leader of the now defunct Common Man party,haven for ex-Fascists.
Gedda, who seems to be the leader, has announced: "Today we are united in thought,in action." Tarabronl's espousal of such an extremenational front could drive Socialists, Social Democrats, Republicans, and left-wingDemocratsopular front with the Communists,