Politics and Ideology in the Italian Workers' Movement: Union Development and the Changing Role of the Catholic and Communist Subcultures in Postwar Italy

By Gino Bedani | Go to book overview

3
The Catholic Secession and the Formation of
Rival Confederations

Looking back on political developments in Italy between 1946 and 1948, it is easy to see that there was a certain inevitability about the break-up of the Cgilunitaria. During this period, political and ideological divisions between Catholics and communists increased both in intensity and range. The critical division over policy in July 1946, the expulsion of communists and socialists from the government coalition in May 1947, and the Catholic disavowals of executive decisions later in the year were followed by an acrimonious electoral campaign for the parliamentary elections of April 1948. The spirit of anti-fascist unity which had inspired the activity of the Cln and informed the drafting of the republican Constitution dissolved into the bitter polemics of the cold war. The Christian Democrats, shortly before portrayed in communist speeches as leaders of a great mass popular party, became the priest-ridden puppets of an unqualified capitalist restoration. In a campaign which had all the hallmarks of a religious crusade, the communists, in their turn, from being the former backbone of the resistance, found themselves cast in the role of destructive enemies of God, the family and civilization.

Inside the Cgil, the resounding victory of the Dc in April 1948 delivered a coup de grace to any residual hopes which may have remained within the Catholic left for the preservation of labour unity. It strengthened the conservative wing and enabled the 'collateral' organization Acli to emerge as 'a controlling force over the Catholic union component'. 1


Preparing the Ground for a Split

The prospect of Catholic-communist unity had always been viewed

____________________
1
G. Baglioni, Il sindacato dell'autonomia, p. 221.

-37-

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