A European Wave of the Past
During the 1950′s, Christian Democratic parties, bastions of anti-Communism and of the modern welfare state in its moderate or conservative form, held power in all the major countries of the European Community. During the 1960′s, they seemed to be the wave of the future in Latin America. Today, even though interest in Christian Democracy is high in the former Communist world, the failure of the movement has become undeniable.
In June 1993, Italy’s Christian Democratic party (DC), the most successful of its kind, having ruled the country uninterruptedly for 48 years, got all of 9 percent of the vote in Milan’s mayoral election. (The winners were a hitherto powerless bunch of political nobodies calling themselves the Northern League.) The DC’s historic leaders are under indictment for corruption. In July the party held a special “constituent” congress to change its name—thus aping the Italian Communist party, which executed the same maneuver in 1990 to distance itself from its unsavory past. Despite the DC’s power, patronage, wealth, and sophistication, despite vast influence in the media, not to mention the support (albeit weakening) of the Church, Italian Christian Democracy is being repudiated as repugnant and anachronistic.
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