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

8
A Changing Political and Industrial Scene

The Political and Economic Setting

The first three years of the 1960s saw a struggle within the world of political Catholicism to achieve the formal entry into government of the Psi. The 'opening to the left' (apertura a sinistra) was opposed by powerful sections of the Dc, within Italian industry, and in the Vatican. It was a development brought to fruition with the entry of Psi ministers into the Moro-led coalition in December 1963. The tensions and divisions to which the operation gave rise were in reality part of a much wider process of transformation taking place in Italian society at a multiplicity of levels.

The 'opening to the left' really became irreversible in July 1960. In March of that year, Fernando Tambroni formed a government which relied on the external support of the neo-fascist Msi to survive. In other words, Tambroni, without conceding ministerial posts to the Msi, was able to secure a guarantee of that party's vote in parliament. Emboldened by this social legitimation, the Msi decided to give maximum publicity to its forthcoming congress. It decided to hold the congress in Genoa, the Italian city with the country's proudest anti-fascist record stemming from the time of the resistance. This ominous decision was followed by the announcement that the honorary president of the congress would be Carlo Emanuele Basile, the prefect who had ordered reprisals against the activities of Genoese partisans in 1944. This final act of provocation by the missini sparked off protests in Genoa and in other Italian cities. Demonstrations were organized by the Cgil. Support from the Cisl and the Uil was patchy. Union protest united with that of anti-fascist groups, and forced the authorities, on 1 July, to postpone the Msi Congress. Anti-fascist demonstrations continued, however, in different parts of the country, and met with brutal police repression. Over the period of protest, participants had been fired upon in Genoa itself, along with Palermo, Licata, San Ferdinando (Puglia), Catania and Reggio Emilia. A number of

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