Italy's Communist Party -- the strongest in Western Europe -- surged ahead in crucial regional elections on Monday (16 June) to boost its long-standing claim for a full share in national government.
GV People in streets watching televisions outside Communist Party's Rome HQ for results (3 shots)
CU ZOOM OUT TO GV People watching results
GV People cheering and giving clenched fist salutes
GV EXTERIOR Christian Democrats HQ
CU & GV Teleprinters in Christian Democrats office
GV People in office watching results coming in (3 shots)
Initials CL/0132 CL/0152
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Background: Italy's Communist Party -- the strongest in Western Europe -- surged ahead in crucial regional elections on Monday (16 June) to boost its long-standing claim for a full share in national government.
The vote gave the Communists control of four of the country's semi-autonomous regional administrations with a 5.5% voting swing that gave them 33.5% of the poll - only about half a million votes less than the Christian Democrats who have dominated Italian politics for the last 30 years.
The Christian Democrats dropped back 2.6% on their total vote in the last regional elections in 1970. But the major losers were the small parties such as the Social Democrats, Liberals and neo-Fascist MSI.
Final figures set the final voter turnout at 91.9% with 10,707,682 votes going to the Christian Democrats and 10,149,000 to the Communists. The advance of the left in major centres was dramatic and they now form the majority political force in Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin.
As their share of the vote increased with almost every poll in recent years, the Communists have claimed it is impossible for the ruling Christian Democrats to deny them any longer their share of power. Their demands for an alliance have been persistently rebuffed.
Addressing a crowd of more than 20,000 outside the party's national headquarters in Rome on Monday night after the election triumph, Communist leader Enrico Berlinguer said the results signified "a clear national defeat for the people who want to exclude the Communists from a say in Government".
SYNOPSIS: A big swing to the left gave the Communist Party control of four of Italy's semi-autonomous regional administrations in crucial elections on Monday. Crowds gathered in the streets outside the party's national headquarters in Rome to watch the progressive voting results being posted. By nightfall more than twenty-thousand people had crammed the narrow roadways to celebrate a dramatic victory that further boosted the Communists' long-standing claim for a full share in national government.
The Communists captured a third of the votes -- only half a million behind the ruling Christian Democrats.
At Christian Democrat headquarters there were no crowds -- only gloom in the wake of what party secretary Amintore Fanfani labelled a "grave" result. Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin will now be ruled by the Communists.
The regional election results have no formal relation to the composition of the national government and national elections are three years away. However, the Communists' demands for a coalition are becoming increasingly difficult to deny ... a fresh government crisis could force early elections with the Communists possibly winning power in their own right.