Christian Party is now facing disintegration
WHOEVER may or may not gain if the present moves towards Italian Socialist unity succeed, the Christian Democrats (Catholics) stand to loose. That seems to be the one certain thing in an otherwise uncertain situation.
Talks between Signor Nenni, whose Socialist Party has for years been the foremost European Communist fellow-traveller organisation, and Signor Saragat, leader of the breakaway Social Democratic Party, may continue for some time yet.
But there seems a strong probebilits that they may end in a reunited party.
If this happens it is likely to lead t o-- (a) a re-grouping of the forces on the Left, (b) a considerable weakening of the Centre.
(c) a possible split of considerable dimensions within the Christian Democratic Party, and (d) the re-alignment if not the actual bleak-up of those groups out of which in recent years successive Governments have been based.
The one thing which has given Italian politics a stability which, for example. has been notably lacking in France, has been the organisational unity of the Christian Democrats.
Within the Christian Democrat Party have been many conflicting social groups and trends of political opinion. Only thc fact that they largely shared the same religion has held them together.
AN ' OPENING'
Under the one umbrella have co-existed representatives of the great landowners, big industrialists and Catholic workers alike. Rut the stresses and strains have increased as the years have gone on and the active party members on the Left, in particular, have been increasingly restive.
Among them are some wellknown Christian leaders, such as President Gronehi himself. and many devout Catholic workers within the party. They have taken the view that Italy's social ills go so deep that nothing short of a change which goes down into the roots of the present social system will suffice to effect a cure.
They have consequently looked anxiously for an " opening to the Left," even though that "Left" is Marxist and anti-clerical in its thinking and traditions.
The possibility of a powerful, united, Socialist Party emerging in the near future now appears to offer to them the hope of such an " opening."
It would take the form of an alliance between the Christian Democratic Left, which has broken aveay if necessary from the main Christian Democratic body, and the re-unified Socialist Party. The alliance would rest upon an agreed policy of radical social change.
The Saragat Socialists represent the moderate wing of Italian Socialism but include many who, like Signor Saragat himself. arc secularists or anti-clericals.
Nenni's party is quite unlike. for example, the British Labour Party. despite any apparent similarity in their programmes.
The bulk of his followers represent all that is most destructive in Italian life.
They are those politically semieducated and socially depressed classes who make up a significant section of the Italian masses. They made possible Mussolini's period of dictatorship. but existed as a destructive force long before either Mussolini or the modern Communist Party were even thought of.
The powerful Nenni-led Socialist Party. if strengthened by the addition of the Saragat Socialists and in alliance with a breakaway LeftChristian Democratic Group, would represent a serious and possibly mortal threat to the weakened Centre.
This new alliance on the Left is allegedly going to exclude the Communists. It might well be this would be the case in its early days, although even so the mass of the workers, Socialists and Communists alike, will be in Communist-led unions.
But if the Christian Democrat Centre breaks up, thc Communists will be in a good position to "cash in" on a period of political instability and are preparing for it.
This chance is considerably increased by the new line now being promoted within the Communist Party by Signor Togliatti.
This is that the road to Communism in Italy must be a "democratic" one.
Revolution, he now says. would simply lead to a " new Greece or Korea." In other words it would lead to armed intervention by America and the other Western Powers.
Skilful propaganda. the most appealing Social programme and
astute political manoeuvring within the parliamentary system, he holds, will lead in time to a Communist victory.
The chances of his prophecy proving correct will be increased if Saragat and Nenni come to terms and are then joined by the Christian Democrat Left.