Italy Between the 1960’s and 1970’s Part 6
Thus the impression spread throughout the country that the Andreotti government and the formula of “democratic centrality” would not last long; proof of this is the limited interest with which the visits of the Prime Minister to the United States (April 16-20) and to Japan (April 23-27) were followed. Key moment for the fate of the government was the national congress of the DC which was to be held in the capital from 6 to 10 June; but already on the eve of the leader Republican La Malfa announced the disengagement of his party from the majority that supported the government, after the unsatisfactory reasons given by the Prime Minister to the Chamber on the inclusion of the veto on cable TV in the regulation of the postal code (one year later, between other, the Constitutional Court will deem repeaters and cable TV legitimate, as they are limited range networks with economic costs that are sustainable by individual companies and therefore not exposed to the risk of management by private oligopolies). The crisis was virtually open. In the meantime, the confluence of the current of Taviani (pontieri) in that of Rumor (dorotei), which became leader of the largest current of the party, facilitating a rapprochement between Moro and Fanfani. The agreement of Palazzo Giustiniani and the establishment of the ” iron troika ” placed the outgoing secretary Forlani in the minority, who did not reappear his candidacy to lead the party. Confirming full confidence in “democratic centrality”, he expressed serious doubts about the opportunity to revive the center-left. In his place, the national council of the DC elected Fanfani by acclamation, who thus left the presidency of the Senate (June 17) where Spagnolli succeeded him (June 27).
According to Themeparktour, the task of forming the new government was given to Rumor, who set up his fourth ministry on an “autonomous and self-sufficient” majority made up of DC, PSDI, PSI and PRI, all parties entering the government; the liberals thus passed to the opposition, while the communist secretary Berlinguer announced for his party a type of opposition different from that implemented against Andreotti, a “flexible opposition”, more “elastic”, that is, adequate to the solutions proposed for individuals problems. The new attitude of the Communist Party was part of Berlinguer’s general policy of “approaching the area of power”. In December 1972 the party leadership expressed itself in favor of a more constructive policy towards a center-left government that would take over from Andreotti’s centrism, while on the international level the PCI accentuated its commitment to Europe, which was to be “neither anti-Soviet nor anti-American”; on the inside, the party’s attacks on the extremism of the student movement and the violence of extra-parliamentarians were becoming more and more decisive. When, in September 1973, the events in Chile and the end of the Allende government, with the killing of its leader, had such a profound echo in Italy, the PCI supported the need for union between the left and Christian Democracy to avoid “subversive and fascist” coups: Berlinguer, in an article published in October on Rebirth, proposed a “great historical compromise”, the meeting between Communists and Catholics (without placing the typically Togliattian prejudice of the split in two of the DC).
Rumor’s program aimed at “possible rather than mythical” reforms aimed at solving the most serious problems, primarily the economy. Giolitti, La Malfa and Colombo (the trojka at the head of the key departments of the national economy) agreed on the defense of the lira, a qualifying point of the republican participation and the subsequent battles of La Malfa, preparing rigid and coherent anti-inflationary measures, from containing prices to the credit crunch, to the rigid control of public spending and budget deficit. Other important objectives were the urgent measures for the university, which came into force with the beginning of the academic year, in which the influence of the PRI was decisive, and those for housing, school and hospital construction. The first measure launched by the new government, which frequently resorted to the use of the decree, was the freezing for ninety days of the retail prices of a
The legislation with immediate effect did not fail to have positive consequences, from the resumption of industrial production to the containment of the inflation process, to the recovery of the lira against other EEC currencies. Once the emergency period was over, when it was a question of launching more far-reaching reforms, from construction to the problems of the South, the government resumed its usual difficulties, difficulties such as to slow down its action. Increased difficulties – starting from October – by the “energy crisis” due to the restrictive measures adopted by the Arab oil-producing countries, after the rekindling of the Arab-Israeli conflict: the drastic reduction of crude oil by 25% previously, the exceptional increase of the price then. The Yom Kippur War and the next ” austerity that characterized the long winter of 1973). At the European level, the “nine” of the Community were forced to review the position of neutrality in the Middle East and to begin, with a joint declaration, a gradual approach to pro-Arab positions.
Internally, a conflict over economic policy choices led to a government crisis that began with the resignation of Treasury Minister La Malfa – in disagreement with Giolitti and his party on the nature of the loan requested from the International Monetary Fund – and the consequent withdrawal of the republican delegation from the government. The crisis was resolved on March 14 with the formation of the fifth Rumor government; the PRI was part of the majority, but supported the government from the outside: the republican proposal to form a “directorate”, understood as the presence of the political secretaries of the four parties in the cabinet with the assumption of direct government responsibilities, had once more remained unheard.