Levi, Arrigo
October 1970
Foreign Affairs;Oct70, Vol. 49 Issue 1, p147
This article examines the crises faced by Italy's Center-Left government since the May 1968 elections. Certainly, since the elections in May 1968, the Center-Left has been going through a serious crisis. But it is a question whether the crisis is mainly political or goes deeper and involves the whole social and economic fabric of Italian life. One of Italy's most intelligent politicians, the Republican leader Ugo La Malfa, feared that this most creative period of Italian history was going to pass without Italy being able to transform its structures and reach a degree of political stability and national unity comparable to those of older developed nations. In this case the great chance would be missed, and democratic institutions would fall apart under the strain of old and new disruptive forces. The growing perspective of an opening to the Communists is not the only reason for the weakening of the Center-Left. First of all, this never was an easy coalition to keep together. Moreover, it was interesting because it was not easy. The very difficulty of having the Socialists as a partner might have brought something new into Italian political life. One can claim with some justice that they did make the need for fundamental reforms more strongly felt in government circles, and to some extent shifted government toward the Left. The problem for the Center-Left is whether this policy of quarreling for success is not being carried out to such a point as to make the survival of the coalition itself impossible. If there were no political alternatives, not even the diversity of long-term aims or ideology would have made the Center-Left coalition so weak. If divisive forces have become stronger, this is mainly due to the fact that at least some political forces now consider that other alternatives are possible. This belief, whether realistic, or the fruit of wishful thinking, is the new factor which makes the survival of the Center-Left so precarious.


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