Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 16:31:06 -0800
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Sid Shniad <shniad@SFU.CA>
Subject: The state of the left
FLORENCE, Italy—Italy's leftist parties ended a congress Saturday with a new name, new symbol and appeals for unity.
“The conditions now exist to work together,” declared Massimo D’Alema, leader of the former Communists. “No one is left out of the challenge.”
Until Saturday, Italy's ex-Communists were called the Democratic Party of the Left. By changing its name to the Democrats of the Left, Italy's largest party hopes to unify a myriad of leftist splinter groups under its banner.
During the meeting, D’Alema said the Left party would drop the hammer and sickle from its symbol and replace it with a rose and the stars of the European Union.
D’Alema and other Left Party leaders said they were trying to emulate the image and policies of other Socialist parties in Europe, especially Tony Blair's Labor Party in Britain.
While the small but influential hard-line Communists will remain on their own, it was not immediately clear how many of the leftist splinter groups would join Democrats of the Left.
The ruling center-left coalition, dominated by the newly renamed party in an alliance with a small number of former Christian Democrats led by Premier Romano Prodi, will remain the Olive Tree.
The weekend congress was billed in the media as a major development in Italian politics. But it was only the latest in a flurry of name-changes and realignments since a massive corruption scandal first struck in 1992.
The scandal caused the collapse of the powerful Christian Democrats, who had run the country since World War II, and the Socialists, who took on a major role in Italian politics in the 1980s.