Courtesy Reuters

Non-Crisis in Italy

The awesome floods of November aside, Italy in late 1966 was in a state of non-crisis. There has been enough political and economic instability in the past, however, to make us view this period of often frenetic progress toward industrialization and social unity as temporary. Fundamental social changes are in process. The business recession of 1964 seems a thing of the past. A government budget of $14.3 billion for 1967 has been prepared, including $1.4 billion for much-needed agricultural development during the next five years and another $600 million for the still depressed southern regions. After hesitant beginnings in February, the third coalition center- left government of the taciturn Christian Democratic premier, Aldo Moro, appears to be settling in with a minimum of open controversy for the period between now and the general elections in 1968. The strains among the basically mismated members of his cabinet are temporarily eased while the two major elements (Christian Democrats and Socialists) reform for the campaign to win the adherence of more than 32,000,000 voters. In foreign policy, reflecting as it does the gentler phase of the cold war, no initiatives are likely. None the less, there is much for Italy's politicians to do.

The long-sought reunification of the Italian Socialist party and its junior Social Democratic partner, together holding the loyalties of about 20 percent of the electorate, had its serious beginnings in 1957 when the shock of the Hungarian revolution broke the Socialist-Communist "unity of action" pact. Reunion was finally sanctioned this past October when separate, simultaneous congresses approved a transitional charter covering ideological and organizational principles. Following the 1968 elections, the two parties will formally unite under a new constitution, the twenty- year rift will be healed, and Western Europe's second largest social democratic party will be reborn. Meanwhile, they will operate through a combined secretariat and central committee, with equal representation by each party. The decision not to merge totally until after the 1968 elections makes for cumbersome electioneering, and a fuzzy image, but it protects the minority position of the Social Democrats.

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