Political experiments in Italy

October 25, 1998

The New York Times said in an editorial Friday:

Massimo D'Alema, who heads Italy's former Communist Party, seems likely to win parliamentary confirmation as prime minister, making him the first ex-Communist to lead a major West European country. But Washington, which worked hard during the Cold War to exclude Italian Communists from government, has little to worry about. Mr. D'Alema would lead a coalition that ranges further right than the last Italian government. He is likely to continue the conservative fiscal policies that have sharply reduced Italy's budget deficits and qualified it to join Europe's new single currency.

Mr. D'Alema would succeed Romano Prodi, a centrist economist who lost a confidence vote this month. The Prodi government's strongest supporter was the Democratic Party of the Left, the name the Communists adopted when they renounced Marxism in 1991. That makes Mr. D'Alema a logical choice to lead a government committed to fiscal discipline. But it is not clear if he will be able to manage a coalition ranging from unreformed Communists to Christian Democrats.

Beyond budgets, the main issues of Italian politics include reforming the Constitution to promote more stable government, prosecuting corruption and resisting northern separatism. Mr. D'Alema has a good record on these issues. Giving him a chance to lead seems a reasonable step.

Pub Date: 10/25/98

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