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'Nessuna svolta' - or, the PCI's 1944 compromise might have doomed Italy

Comisario

Hello Tony, I am 1952
Published by SLP
Location
London
Had Palmiro Togliatti not initiated the 'svolta di Salerno', what might have been?

For those who don't know, the 'svolta di Salerno' or 'Salerno turn', was the policy pronouncement of March 1944 that saw Togliatti take the Italian Communist Party into the Badoglio government and encouraged the entire anti-fascist movement to prop up the old military man's regime for the duration of the war. It also guided PCI policy until De Gasperi excluded the Communist Party in May 1947. At its base, it was a move to reconcile Togliatti's party with the bourgeois monarchist government that was still in control of southern Italy. Whilst the consensus on Togliatti's policy change is that it was instigated as part of a conciliatory policy on Stalin's part, which I would agree with to an extent, there has emerged some evidence that Togliatti was looking to explore collaboration with the Badoglio government at the turn of the New Year in 1944. So - a little from column A; a little from column B.

The fluidity of that early 1944 period gives a lot of chances for divergence, at the very least, and so it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the 'Salerno turn' does not come to fruition.

What happens after is up for debate and has been debated since even before the end of the war. The mainstream historiography of the 'Salerno turn' describes a brave decision that allowed the organisation of the anti-fascist resistance - the CLN - to join the Italian government, form a broad-based anti-fascist administration, and stage the end of Badoglio's regime. Ivanoe Bonomi could come to power at the head of a consensus-building anti-fascist front and without risking violent division between the factions of the resistance, which has been praised by many Italian historians in the past. However, there is another view - the view of the Action Party (specifically, Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti). In this 'alternative historiography', the PCI engaged in a betrayal of the left by placing the so-called 'national interest' above that of the partisan aims of the republican, socialist, radical, etc. left-wing forces of the resistance. Describing these aims as such isn't meant to disparage, just as a side note, because they included a full purge of the pre-1943 bureaucracy and judiciary, the immediate declaration of a republic, and a plan for post-war reconstruction (especially focused on the economy and social provision).

The Actionist plans for Italy's electoral system aside (because I don't want to consider what an American-style presidential system might have done to Italy), there was much overlap between the immediate goals of the Communist Party and the Action Party prior to the 'svolta di Salerno' and much to be gained by both parties that might have - paradoxically or not, I'll let you be the judge - benefited Italy as a whole. If there was no turn and the Ragghianti was right, then Parri's Actionist-led government would have survived (how it would have come to power in the first place isn't quite obvious, but I see a route there - which I shall discuss some other time), there would have been no need for a referendum on the monarchy, and no incorporation of the Lateran Pacts into the Italian constitution. The 'Salerno turn', accordingly, was Italian politics' original sin in some respects.
 

Alex Richards

A musical Hubble Space Telescope
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Published by SLP
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Would renunciation of the Lateran Pacts lead to the re-absorption of the Vatican into Italy, or do you think it would have been felt easier to dismantle the Church's influence in Italian politics and society if this didn't actually include the question of how to deal with the Pope as a unwilling Italian Citizen?

I suppose the other question is to what extent this brings the risk of civil war to Italy.
 

Comisario

Hello Tony, I am 1952
Published by SLP
Location
London
Would renunciation of the Lateran Pacts lead to the re-absorption of the Vatican into Italy, or do you think it would have been felt easier to dismantle the Church's influence in Italian politics and society if this didn't actually include the question of how to deal with the Pope as a unwilling Italian Citizen?

I suppose the other question is to what extent this brings the risk of civil war to Italy.
On the first question: the latter is more than likely. I can’t see a full-on absorption of the Vatican into Italy’s borders (which is linked to your second question, I think), but a renegotiation of the terms upon which the existence of the independent city-state existed would be paramount to the new religious settlement. Both Actionists and Communists would have wanted total secularism guaranteed in the constitution, so the Catholic Church will be officially sidelined. I don’t think the PCI has the stomach for a full-on war against the Church, as many of its supporters were still deeply religious despite being officially excommunicated, and would probably go as far as pushing the clergy out of education and implementing a tax on Church land.

On the second question: the threat of civil war would loom far larger, I think. It’s a question that isn’t dealt with in the Actionist historiography, but a negative outcome is implied by most historians of the post-war settlement in Italy. Without a referendum on the monarchy, monarchists will view the state with more contempt than they did IOTL and it will be a crusade of most centre to right-wing parties to, at the very least, give the people a say on the constitutional head of their country. The Monarchists, Liberals and Christian Democrats - despite the third group there being officially neutral on the matter, in contrast to the two strongly pro-Savoy parties - will all want to put it to a vote, whilst the Actionists, Socialists and Communists will want to swerve the issue as much as possible. Plenty of tensions to be exploited in that scenario, of course, and this doesn’t even begin to consider that the anti-NATO elements of Italian politics will be emboldened by this new political landscape. I can see clandestine operations, GLADIO-style and worse, against the state being an accepted part of Italian political life. America will certainly stand for a major European nation, formerly of the Axis and then of the Allies, pursuing non-alignment when the PCI is taking an active part in the government and the USA’s allies are out in the cold, so to speak.

Civil war might well ensue in those circumstances.
 
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