CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS HOLD THEIR OWN
Administration in Rome remains with them
By DOUGLAS HYDE
ITALY'S Christian Democrats, despite all the disadvantages of years in office, are holding their own. But the hard core of support for Communism and Marxist socialism in Italy remains as solid as ever.
This would appear to be the outstanding conclusion to be drawn from the rather confused picture left by last week
end's municipal and provincial elections.
With the change-over to proportional representation, straight-forward comparisons with previous elections are difficult.
What is clear is that the Christian Democrats have taken votes from the Neo-Fascists and Monarchists on the extreme Right, whilst the Left-wing Nenni Socialists have stolen some votes from their close allies the Communists at the other extreme.
The overall picture would. therefore, appear to be somewhat as follows: The combined extreme Left is as solid as ever. The extreme Right
has been considerably weakened. The Centre, as represented by the Christian Democrats in particular and the Social Democrats and Liberals to a lesser extent. has been correspondingly strengthened.
The election was the quietest since the war. Use of posters had been restricted. This muted the printed propaganda war to such an extent that the Italians wisecracked about the parties' "micro-propaganda."
The Catholic Ahtion Civic Committees' posters were as usual among the most lively. They made the fullest possible use of the Cornmunists' recent jettisoning of Stalin—since " Uncle Joe" had been a great favourite among the Left-wing masses.
A possible and somewhat wry effect of this was to help to give votes to Ncnni which otherwise might have gone to Togliatti.
Public meetings were poorly attended until last Friday night --the last night of the campaign.
But the absence of election fever did not denote political apathy. At least 90 per cent. of the people voted. This was a remarkably high figure which suggests that Italians are the most politically conscious people in Europe to-day.
It also indicates that the stubhorn hold of Communism upon them cannot be explained away in terms of apathy, thoughtlessness or mere susceptibility to noisy propaganda. Particular interest centred upon the outcome of the campaigns in Rome, Florence and Bologna.
Rome's Christian Democrat administration has recently been making heavy weather. Despite this, the Christian Democrats have retained their hold on the municipal council. But the Communists and Nenni Socialists combined now slightly outnumber them, and they must depend upon the support of others if they are to remain In power.
In Florence, where Communism is strong, the saintly, highly unconventional Left-Christian Democrat Mayor La Pira was fighting to retain his scat. But " fighting " is hardly the right word here. for all La Pira's emphasis is upon the power of love to prevail over the attractions of Communism, win the Communists, and bring a good life to the poverty-stricken masses.
In his election speeches he confined himself to the exposition of the Gospel teachings on the power of love.
Bologna's Communist mayor was challenged by Signor Dossetti, a Christian Democrat of much the same school as La Pira. But
Bologna. Italian Communism's
greatest stronghold, is a symbol to
the Communists and they did
everything possible to hold their
own. They kept their Mayor and
their hold upon the local administration.
Indeed, their position. if anything, appears to be strengthened. as it is throughout all Emilia, which is as Red as ever.
In Sicily. the countryside vote tended to wing away from the Marxist Left to the Christian Centre. This was so in the big towns, too. Rut the two Marxist parties, nonetheless, gained control of a further 50 small towns.