With elections just over a week away the Italian Communist party has remained at the centre of the campaign.
With elections just over a week away the Italian Communist party has remained at the centre of the campaign. Bologna, in the heart of Italy's so-called red-belt has been controlled by the Communists since the war. How have the Communists done there and is it any indication as to how they would govern Italy?
SYNOPSIS: On June 20th Italians will be voting in a general election which commentators are describing as Italy's most important since the war. The main campaign issue has been the Communists -- what role if any for them in a future Italian Government?
The Italian Communist party -- with almost two million members and one third of the vote -- is the largest Communist party int he west. Opinion polls are predicting that they will emerge from the June 20th poll as the largest single party. Here in Bologna in central Italy the Communists have been in control since the war -- and many say it's Italy's best governed city.
When the Communists first took over they faced a major problem -- lack of industry. The large Italian companies were reluctant to invest in what they saw was a politically unsafe area, so the Communists set about attracting small and medium sized businesses to Bologna with generous cash grants and an enthusiastic work-force. The result -- a booming machine tools industry and on the political front -- the development of a national scheme to attract small and medium size businessmen to the Communist party.
Apart from economic, developments, Bologna city council, under the Communists, has made giant strides in protecting the environment. Most cars are excluded from the city centre and public transport is free for those travelling to work or study, and free all day for pensioners.
Welfare facilities are extensive. Working women can send their children, free-of-charge to city-run kindergartens, and in fact Bologna has the country's highest kindergarten population.
Last June, in regional elections, one Bologna citizen in two voted Communist. The Communists are hoping for a similar result this time. However, critics of the Communists in Bologna say they inherited a city with few problems and have pumped vast amounts of money into the city to make it the showcase it undoubtedly is today.