Italians went to the polls on Sunday (11 June) in a double referendum seen as a popularity test for the ruling Christian Democrats and their Communist allies.
Italians went to the polls on Sunday (11 June) in a double referendum seen as a popularity test for the ruling Christian Democrats and their Communist allies. Both the Communists and the Christian Democrats have campaigned strongly for rejection of the referendum proposals, which call for the repeal of 2 laws, one giving police stronger powers, and the other allocating public funds to political parties.
SYNOPSIS: Police and extreme left-wing demonstrators battled in Milan's central Piazza Duomo on Friday (9 June) when members of the right-wing Italian party, the M.S.I. gathered to meet and discuss the issues at stake in Sunday's referendum. The radicals, the neo-fascists, and an extreme-left faction are the only groups seeking an end to the 45-billion Lire (50-million Dollars) paid from public funds each year to parties represented in the Italian Parliament.
The M.S.I or Social Movement Party, were also the victims recently of a bomb attack on their headquarters. The demonstrations in Milan took place as Italians prepared to vote on whether to retain the extensive powers given to the police in 1975, to help them curb political violence. the radicals argued that the 1975 law which boosted police powers and have them the right to shoot at suspects, had claimed two-hundred innocent victims. The law also tightened the clampdown on fascist parties and is consequently opposed by the neo-fascist Social Movement. The radicals forced the vote by collecting far more than the half-million signatures needed for a referendum.
Only small numbers of voters turned out at the start of the two days of voting on Sunday (11 June). The law turnout was blamed on people sleeping late after celebrating Italy's World Cup soccer victory over Argentina on Saturday night (10 June). The referendum proposals for scrapping the two laws are expected to be heavily defeated.
The results of the double referendum are not due until Tuesday (13 June). There are about 41-million eligible voters Republic Party Leader Oronzo Reale was one of the first to vote.
Shortly after polling began, radicals alleged voting irregularities. Marco Panella, leader of the four-strong Radical Party in Parliament did not elaborate and a government spokesman denied the accusation. Neither of the two referendum issues has engaged much public interest but in the wake of the Aldo Moro kidnapping and killing Italians are expected to vote overwhelmingly to retain extra police powers.