Communists and Christian Democrats after the General Election of April 1963
In many ways the Communist Party of Italy seemed the strongest force in the country after the election of 1963, the most united, the best organised, seemingly invincible. It was the usurping inheritor of the Italian Socialist tradition. The Socialist Party of Italy was founded in 1892 before any large-scale industrialisation had affected the country. When the motor-car and the Breda steel and Pirelli’s rubber industries sprang into vigour early in the twentieth century a party of Socialist intellectuals was ready to provide the new industrial workers with an ideology. The most remarkable thing, however, about the Italian Socialist Party was that it rapidly acquired an important agrarian following, not so much among the poor and landless peasants, who were often illiterate and priest-ridden, but among the better-off, sometimes indeed fairly prosperous, mezzadri of central Italy. To this day the less well-off peasants of the Veneto or in the south vote Catholic, that is Christian Democrat, but the richer peasants of the former Papal States and Tuscany often voted Socialist as soon as they could vote at all, that is from 1913 onwards — the only obvious reason for this was their inherited desire to vote as emphatically as possible against the Church.
KeywordsCommunist Party Socialist Party Landless Peasant Christian Democrat Party Shop Steward
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