Italy Labor and Struggles of Democracy Part 2

Italy Labor and Struggles of Democracy 2

Each party fought the electoral battle of 1958 on positions of ideological and programmatic autonomy, without the borders and constraints of the traditional four-party coalition. But the political events in France (May 13) that liquidated the Fourth Republic and brought General De Gaulle to power favored the campaign of the DC, which invited the electorate not to lose the votes, presenting itself as the solid “barrier” to oppose all adventures (the Hon. Fanfani fought with tireless fervor for an absolute majority of his party, while a public declaration by the Italian bishops confirmed the full support of the Church and all the forces of the Catholic laity for the lists of the Christian Democrats).

The results of the general elections in fact saw a marked improvement in the DC, which rose from 40.1 to 42.4% of the votes for the Chamber (with a total of 12,520,207 votes compared to 10,864,282 in 1953), whereas the other democratic forces they did not record equal earnings. Only the liberals marked a significant increase (from 816,267 votes in 1953 to 1,047,081, ie from 3 to 3.5%); Social Democracy improved in relation to the political elections of 1953, but retreated in the face of the administrative ones of 1956 (maintaining its percentage of 4.5%, with 1,345,447 votes). The republicans, allied to the radicals, collected 405,782 votes (equal to 1.4% of the votes), with a further contraction compared to June 7, 1953.

In the field of opposition, the gains of the PSI were significant: in the votes for the Chamber, Nenni’s party – which had wisely exploited the new autonomist approaches – rose from 3,463,035 votes in 1953 (12.8%) to 4,206,726 (14.2%). Even the communists – despite the “Khrushchev report” and the crisis produced in their ranks by the events in Poland and Hungary – managed to fully maintain their positions (6,704,454 votes against the 6,121,922 in 1953: percentage from 22.6% to 22.7). The same cannot be said on the right front. The PNM – which had split since June 1954 into two sections, led respectively by A. Covelli and A. Lauro – dropped from 6.9% in 1953 to a total of 4.8 for the two lists (2.2 for the National Party Covelli monarchist, on the 2nd, 6 to the Lauro People’s Monarchist Party). On the other hand, the losses of the Italian Social Movement are lower (in percentage from 5.8% to 4.8; in votes from 1,582,567 to 1,407,718).

The configuration of the new Parliament did not allow many majority formulas. Made difficult the agreement of the center by the persistent conflicts between the PLI and the PSDI and even more by the declared distrust of the Christian Democratic left, the DC thought of a center-left tripartite government extended to the PRI and the PSDI. The assignment to the Hon. Fanfani – after the resignation of the Zoli cabinet, resigned on June 19 – was the natural consequence of that general approach, which excluded any revival of the quadripartite formula and declared the topic of a dialogue with the PSI current.

The new prime minister set to work from the day of his appointment (25 June) with the determined will to overcome all obstacles. However, he did not succeed in obtaining the direct collaboration of the PRI in the government: while guaranteeing critical support from the outside, the Republicans preferred to remain outside the new coalition, which was de facto bipartite (DC-PSDI).

According to, the alliance with the PSDI was not difficult. The formula that triumphed had been announced a year earlier by the Hon. Saragat and had formed the electoral platform of social democracy. It was once more a question of putting the PSI to the test, favoring the process of decanting socialist autonomy. Adequate legislative measures were prepared for this purpose, with full agreement between the DC and the PSDI: both in the field of tax equalization and in that of legislation aimed at extending the area of ​​the public economy (a place in itself, of particular importance, occupied the “ten-year school plan” continued and defended with particular vigor by successive governments).

Immediately after the vote of confidence (which was expressed by the Senate on July 12, 128 “yes” against 111 “no” and by the House on July 19, 295 “yes”, 287 “no”, 9 abstentions), President Fanfani left for a mission in the western capitals: 29-30 July in the USA, 1 August in London, 2 in Bonn, 7-8 in Paris. Italy gave the impression of wanting to accentuate its role in international politics, in order to facilitate the process of detente between the two blocs and with particular attention to the problems of the Middle East (in this perspective, in January 1959, it will enter Fanfani’s trip to Cairo). It also falls within the framework of an “active presence” of

But serious internal political obstacles soon arose against the activity of the Fanfani government, which had begun with so much fervor and enthusiasm. A serious financial scandal (the so-called “Giuffrè case”) put a strain on the collaboration between the various internal currents of the DC and between the two parties of the government. The sedition of the Hon. S. Milazzo in Sicily (25 October) demonstrated how far the internal conflicts in Christian democracy had gone: it took over a year of difficult battles in the island’s Parliament to oust the rebel – who had become head of the Christian-social party and leader of a heterogeneous majority – by the regional government. A series of demonstrations of parliamentary dissidence – the so-called “snipers”, of uncertain origin and provenance – soon ended up paralyzing the activities of the Fanfani ministry. Between November and December 1958, the government was beaten three consecutive times on measures presented to the judgment of the Chambers.

The echoes of the succession to the papal throne (with the advent of John XXIII, on October 28, 1958) accentuated the debate in the ranks of the Catholic world. From many quarters the impression was given that the Pontificate was now tending to accentuate the separation from Italian affairs; there was talk of “wider Tiber”. The tension and commitment, to which the Hon. Fanfani submitted the government and the party, they did not seem the most suitable to reconcile with the desire for truce that was advancing from various sectors.

Italy Labor and Struggles of Democracy 2