Courtesy Reuters

Italy: The Fragile State

New general elections will be held in Italy in May. The present government coalition (formed by Christian Democrats and Socialists, with the addition of the very few but earnest Republicans) will defend itself on two fronts. From the radical Right will come the assaults of the not-numerous neo- Fascists and the still scarcer last-stand Monarchists; much more vigorous and dangerous attacks will be launched by the radical Left, the Communists and the revolutionary Socialists. Both radical Right and Left are theoretically sworn to destroy the present state of things and erect diametrically opposite régimes on the smoking ruins and the carnage. Such apocalyptic prospectives are not difficult to defeat, as they provoke more fear than hope in large sectors of the electorate.

The opposition also includes the Partito Liberale Italiano1, which is not radical, frightens nobody and does not wish to demolish the liberal, democratic parliamentary Republic it helped to set up after the war with other anti-Fascist parties, but would rather see it function more efficiently, honestly and, if possible, equitably. It would also like to see the other opposition parties and the Government less dependent on foreign influences like the Kremlin, the Vatican or the State Department. The Partito Liberale is small, to be sure (7 percent of the electorate), but should be considered the only legitimate opposition existing in Italy, the only one, that is, working strictly within the system, as a legitimate opposition should in a well-ordered democracy.

What will be the results of the elections? Are they predictable? The Government, whose record is generally good, is solidly entrenched in a strategically favorable position, neither Right nor too far to the Left. It has a rich program, which includes all sorts of wonderful plums for all sorts of people, from the most opulent automobile manufacturer of Turin to sulphur miners of Sicily. It controls vast economic pastures which are open to its friends and supporters; directs the expenditure of immense sums for all kinds of genuinely useful

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