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The national election campaign of 1948


Pius XII
Pius XII

The national election campaign of 1948 was one of the most bitter and dramatic in Italian history. Displays of force became a central feature in the strategy of many parties. The Communist-led coalition frequently used labor strikes as a political weapon. In reprisals against the left, the government confiscated arms and ammunition and conducted intimidatory military demonstrations in various urban areas. Pius XII approved anti-Communist activity by the Italian clergy. In April the Christian Democratic Party won overwhelmingly. It received nearly 49 percent of the vote, giving it 307 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 151 in the Senate. The Popular Front, the coalition of Communists and radical Socialists, won 182 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and 31 in the Senate. The moderate Socialists elected 33 deputies; the remaining 52 seats went to minor parties.

The mandate to the Christian Democrats enabled De Gasperi to oust the Communists from government, but the continued strength of the Communists made reconciliation of the differences that had divided the nation unlikely.

Luigi Einaudi, the candidate of the Christian Democrats and moderate Socialists, was elected president of the Italian republic. De Gasperi was reappointed prime minister.

The exclusion of the Communists from government qualified Italy for support under the Marshall Plan. The supplies and credits that as a result began to flow into Italy created favorable conditions for reconstruction of the national economy.

The Communists opposed the Marshall Plan and promoted a widespread strike for higher wages, culminating in July in a general 12-hour walkout. Within two weeks Italy was plunged into another grave crisis as the result of the attempted assassination of Palmiro Togliatti, head of the Italian Communist Party.

The General Confederation of Labor, charging the government with political responsibility, immediately called a nationwide general strike to force its resignation. During the next two days riots took place in practically every city of Italy. Order was restored only by the mobilization of more than 300,000 troops and police. "Italy" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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