The establishment of the new democratic framework in post-fascist Italy was achieved largely by the political parties which had led the Resistance. They devised the new institutions and legitimized the new regime, above all by involving in it those sectors of the population which previously had been marginal or absent from political life. Christian Democracy (DC), as heir to the Partito Popolare, had to perform the task of transferring the loyalties of the rural Catholic masses-once disenfranchised by papal opposition to the new unitary Italian state-on to the new liberal-democratic framework. The Italian Communist Party (PCI), heir to the Italian Socialist tradition (or, at least, to its maximalist wing) had to do the same for the working classes.
Hence the Resistance and its component parties demonstrated that Fascism had not destroyed civil society (contrasting perhaps with Portugal, where long authoritarian rule induced political passivity). It was instrumental in mobilizing large popular sectors into politics, an important feature of Italy's transition to democracy. 1 Therefore the subsequent behaviour of these parties in channelling this activity was crucial not only to a successful transition but also to the prospects for democratic consolidation. This period is broadly equivalent to Rustow's 'habituation phase' in democratic transition, where 'both politicians and citizens learn from the successful resolution of some issues to place their faith in the new rules' and 'experience with democratic techniques and competitive recruitment will confirm the politicians in their democratic practices and beliefs'. 2 However, the Italian case is less straightforward than some other cases of the move from transition to consolidation examined in this volume. As Pasquino has noted, controversy over the post-war transition has persisted-not over its achievement and the crucial role of the parties, but over its evaluation especially concerning the defeat of the left in the 1948 election and its consequences. 3 One may therefore say that certain formative influences of transition-above
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Publication information: Book title: Securing Democracy: Political Parties and Democratic Consolidation in Southern Europe. Contributors: Geoffrey Pridham - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 84.
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