Italy Labor and Struggles of Democracy Part 1

Italy Labor and Struggles of Democracy 1

The first effects of the new political developments were on the solidity of the Segni government. The debate on agrarian pacts, which began in the second half of January to liquidate that permanent reason for discord among the allies, was suspended in consideration of the socialist congress. The liberal perplexities were accentuated with respect to a government that seemed to make its attitudes dependent on those of a party outside the coalition, and until a few years earlier to the democratic area itself. As an immediate consequence of the Venice congress, the republican party, which had always sympathetically followed the troubles of the PSI, decided to gradually regain freedom of action with respect to the Segni government (February 24, 1957). Thus, within the ministerial coalition, the situation tended to deteriorate. The position taken by the DC trade unionist group on the problem of agricultural pacts made it more difficult every day to reach an agreement on that debated question. The appointment of the Hon. Togni at the Department of State Participations, unwelcome to the Social Democrats, caused the resignation of Hon. Matteo Matteotti, one of the most staunch supporters of socialist unification.

Labor moved into social democracy. To avoid being overtaken by the left currents of his party (there was talk of ministers who would have individually resigned), the Hon. Saragat decided to leave his party from the governing coalition (May 5, 1957). The unfolding of the new crisis proved even more difficult than expected. The Republicans’ refusal to collaborate with a new center coalition led the President of the Republic to confer the mandate for a government consisting exclusively of the DC. Designated for this difficult task was the president of the National Council of the party, one of the “notables” closest to the Fanfanian secretariat, sen. Adone Zoli. Through a program of broad social openness, sen. Zoli promised himself to obtain a benevolent expectation in various sectors of the Chamber, not excluding the Socialists; but in the test of the vote of confidence only monarchists and MSI granted him the confidence, eager to re-enter the political game, from which the quadripartite coalitions had so far excluded them.

Instead of resolving itself, the crisis became complicated and worsened. The Prime Minister, in the final reply to the Chamber (June 8, 1957), declared that he would not take into account, for the purposes of calculating the majority, the votes of the MSI. The parliamentary atmosphere became very tense. A first calculation excluded that the MISSI suffrages were decisive; however, the following day, a revision of the figures ascertained an error (two votes against had been calculated as abstentions) and transformed the votes of the Italian Social Movement into determining factors.

The sen. Zoli did not hesitate to draw the consequences, immediately submitting his resignation (June 10, 1957). In the difficulty of finding a way out of the crisis, the President of the Republic gave an exploratory mandate to the President of the Senate, sen. Merzagora, with a view to testing the possibilities of reconstituting a coalition of the center (June 15, 1957). But since the Merzagora mission did not obtain the desired effects, the Quirinale entrusted the secretary of the party with a relative majority, the Hon. Fanfani, the task of reopening the negotiations for a four-party agreement (June 18). Fanfani’s resignation followed three days later (June 21) and the President of the Republic decided to send the Zoli government back to the Houses, according to a unexceptionable interpretation of the Constitution (which does not make a distinction between welcome and unwelcome votes). The sen. Zoli thus embarked on the arduous task, correcting with his instinctive common sense and with his great measure the harshness and intransigence of the parties.

While resting on a parliamentary basis that did not conform to the wishes of the majority of the party, and despite being forced to govern in a situation of bitter political and ideological struggles, the Zoli cabinet managed to carry out a large part of its legislative program, much of it inherited from the previous governments. The fundamental directives of foreign policy remained unchanged (the ex-Prime Minister Pella had taken over from the Hon. Martino with the advent of the monocolore), despite certain turmoil of revision that emerged in the majority party.

To characterize our international action, were added – in recent years – the frequent missions of friendship conducted by the President of the Republic. After a trip by the President and Foreign Minister Martino to the United States and Canada (February 26-March 12, 1956), there was a visit to Paris on April 25-27, 1956 (reciprocated by French President Coty in Rome on May 9-12. 1957). With the Zoli government, the pace of presidential missions increased: on 7-12 September it was the turn of a visit to Tehran, on 11-13 November of a mission in Ankara.

According to, the continuation of the pro-European policy ran parallel to the peacekeeping missions of the President of the Republic. Precisely in the last months of the Segni government, on March 25, 1957, the treaty establishing the “European Economic Community” and the establishing treaty of “Euratom” were signed in Rome: two events that have assumed a particular symbolic value and consecrated the line of fidelity of Italy to Europeanist politics. Line that was prolonged during the Zoli ministry: the same treaties were in fact approved by the Italian Chamber on 30 July 1957, and on this occasion there was a significant abstention by the Socialists on the EEC, and a favorable vote on Euratom.

From this moment on, the main task of the Zoli government was to prepare, in a climate of order and tranquility, the general political elections called for May 25, 1958. The preparation of that electoral campaign was not without harshness and lively contrasts. The controversy between the DC and the liberal party deepened in particular; the themes of debate – always latent – between clericalism and anticlericalism intensified (in the climate dominated by the condemnation of the bishop of Prato – in March 1958 – and by the subsequent reactions of the Catholic side). The Social Democrats, on the other hand, tended to differentiate themselves from the extremes of secularism; their utmost concern was to keep intact the possibilities of agreement with the DC, in order to favor the formation of a center-left government destined between the

Italy Labor and Struggles of Democracy 1