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New Left Review I/96, March-April 1976

Paolo Flores d’Arcais and Franco Moretti

Paradoxes of the Italian Political Crisis

It is still too early to say whether the regional elections of 15 June 1975 marked the beginning of a new stage in the post-war history of Italy. What is, however, certain is that they left all the main actors in the country’s political life with their backs to the wall. The electoral shifts have resulted in major dislocations. To begin with, the bourgeois parties—the Christian Democrats (dc), the secular conservative Liberals (pli) and Social Democrats (psdi), and to a lesser extent the Fascists (msi)—have all been thrown into crisis. The solid bourgeois majority that has governed Italy for the past thirty years—since the crushing defeat of the Popular Front in 1948—is no longer solid. The Left—Communists (pci) plus Socialists (psi) plus the revolutionary Left (pdup, dp, etc)—won 47 per cent of the vote. However, the long social crisis opened in 1968–9 by the student upsurge and by the most extensive and radical workers’ struggles of the post-war period has also ended, at least temporarily. After seven years, this crisis has finally found a political outlet, has brought its weight to bear on the institutional equilibrium. Nevertheless, paradoxically, the protagonists of this political defeat of the bourgeoisie are not the political groups, ideas and institutions that most explicitly represent 1968–9. Indeed, the latter too have been thrown into deep crisis by the election results.

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Paolo Flores d'Arcais, Franco Moretti, ‘Paradoxes of the Italian Political Crisis’, NLR I/96: £3

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