Left wins Italian regional vote
By Robynne Murphy
ROME — On April 24, the first day after the regional elections in 15 regions out of 20 in Italy, the headlines of the communist journal Liberazione read: "The French teach: the left wins if they stay on the left. Refoundation [the Party of Communist Refoundation, PRC] grows to 8%. The right loses ten of the fifteen regions."
The left electoral coalition, after the final count, won 9 of the 15 regions. In the six regions won by the right, their victory was helped by the fact that the left did not stand together.
The left alliance is composed of five parties, the two main ones being the PDS, the Democratic Party of the Left, and the PRC. The smaller parties in the coalition are the left Christian Democrats, the Greens and the Socialist Party.
Both the PDS and PRC emerged from the break-up of the Communist Party. The PDS, a much larger social democratic party, was hoping that these elections would bring the end of the PRC, but the PRC increased its vote from 6.6% last year to 8.4%.
The victory party in the PRC headquarters here confirmed to members that they are a growing force on the left. On all the television broadcasts, the PDS, while claiming victory, found it difficult to acknowledge the essential role of the PRC. In the left electoral coalition, the PDS won approximately 25%, around 9 million votes, with Communist Refoundation winning over 3 million.
Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister, led the right electoral coalition, composed of Forza Italia, the National Alliance (fascists) and the Popular Party (the right of the Christian Democrats' split).
Berlusconi, who belongs to Forza Italia ,only just won the elections in March 1994. But the government had tried to implement unpopular economic reforms, in particular increasing the age at which a worker could apply for an old age pension. Against these unpopular reforms, millions demonstrated in the streets of Rome in November, and Berlusconi was replaced by Alberto Dini. The government had to withdraw the pension change.
But one of the factors that has increased the popularity of the Communist Refoundation is that the social democratic party, PDS, had begun to take up the government cry in support of the pension reforms.