The Italy Legislature Following the 1953 Elections Part 2
But the Scelba government also passed that difficult test and was comforted in its work by the success of Trieste’s return to Italy. Already on 8 October 1953, at the time of the Pella government, the Allies had decided to transfer the administration of zone A to Italy. But only the Italo-Yugoslav memorandum of understanding of 5 October 1954 – the result of a patient and shrewd diplomatic work – put an end to the military administration in the two zones of the “Free Territory of Trieste”, consecrated the formal passage of zone A to the Italian administration and defined a slight border adjustment in favor of zone B, which remained with the Yugoslav administration, also creating the conditions for normalizing diplomatic relations with Belgrade.
According to top-mba-universities, the reached diplomatic solution of the Trieste question served to strengthen the foundations of the center coalition. In October the Italian civil administration took over from Trieste to the allied military government; at the end of the month the troops of gen. De Renzi paraded through the city and in early November the prime minister delivered a measured and conscious speech (hoping for the overcoming of national hatreds). At the same time, the Italian government was validly cooperating in the resumption of negotiations between the European allies for the establishment of a political-diplomatic instrument to replace the decayed CED. That instrument was the Western European Union I (WEU), whose founding treaty was signed on 23 October 1954. The Italian Parliament approved the
The revival of Western solidarity, after the uneasiness and concerns aroused by the sinking of the EDC, facilitated the overcoming of the resurfacing reasons for conflict within the ministerial coalition chaired by the Hon. Scelba. A request for reinvigoration of the government put forward by the Hon. Saragat in early November 1954 concluded in the stipulation of a new programmatic agreement between the four democratic parties, aimed at reviving the activity of the ministry. Among the points included in the program: a new legislation on agricultural pacts.
But it was precisely on this delicate matter that a new and more serious political crisis broke out at the beginning of 1955. The protagonists were the liberals (now moving to center-right positions with the new secretariat of the Hon. GF Malagodi) and the Social Democrats (worried competition from the PSI, now unhindered and indeed favored to a certain extent by certain currents of Christian democracy). A select committee formed by the Council of Ministers (January 17, 1955) was unable to settle the differences between PLI and PSDI on the question of agrarian pacts. A bill presented by the Prime Minister (February 12) and even signed by the liberal representatives in the ministry did not meet with the approval of the secretariat of the liberal party.
That was the most acute moment of the crisis, which left traces that cannot be easily erased in the relations between the various democratic groups. Malagodi resigned from the secretariat of the PLI in protest; his resignation was subsequently rejected by the national council of the PLI (February 26-27), and a way of compromise was eventually found, accepting the agreement of February 12 but committing the secretariat and ministers to obtain a more satisfactory overall solution of the intricate problem. Except that the Republican party – a member of the coalition but outside the government – did not feel it had to ratify the compromise reached between the various positions. Between 18 and 20 March the National Council of the PRI decided to reject the agreement of 12 February on agricultural pacts and to regain freedom of action against the Scelba government. It was a freedom of action that did not reach the threshold of the opposition (the party reserved the right to judge the government “case by case”) but questioned the original and fundamental pact on which that ministry was based. Added to this was the growing opposition that the centrist formula encountered within the DC: in particular from the “concentration” (a group that gathered the “notables” that is the exponents of the old popular tradition, overshadowed in the Congress of Naples). The Christian Democratic minorities have long been waiting for the best opportunity to defeat the party secretariat, allied (but not without distinction and reservations) to the Scelba government.
The occasion of the clash did not take long to present itself with the election of the new President of the Republic, scheduled for April 28-29, 1955. The candidate of the Christian Democratic secretariat, sen. Cesare Merzagora, failed to reach the required two-thirds majority in the first scrutinies; a part of the Christian Democrats themselves directed their votes towards the President of the Chamber and authoritative exponent of the “concentration”, Giovanni Gronchi.
Old and consistent fighter of the Catholic left, the Hon. Gronchi recalled with his name the votes of the left-wing groups, which at the first suffrage had turned towards the ex-Prime Minister Ferruccio Parri. On the third ballot, the votes for Gronchi were already 281 against 245 for Merzagora (61 votes went to President Einaudi, for whose reconfirmation the Liberals and Social Democrats fought).