From a Special Correspondent
THE electioneering posters in Rome and other Italian cities reflect pretty closely the uncertainty which non-Communists feel when considering for whom they should vote.
Some of the posters are witty, others mere vituperative, all rich in promises, and they recall the whole factious history of the various , Italian States in which the Monarchy, the Republic and Democratic self-government all have deep roots.
Naturally, living in one particular place, it is quite impossible to generalise about "Italy" and "Italians"; one can only have a rough idea of what are the stated opinions and reactions of people in one small district. The rest is hearsay.
Certainly in Umbria. a n d apparently in other parts as well, Christian Democracy has lost heavily in respect, prestige and trust.
All one can say is that at the moment its failings, weakness and corruption are on everyone's lips, and no one seems to remember its achievements, its appalling difficulties, and the personal success of De Gasperi in presenting Italy's case abroad.
Where will the votes go which are withdrawn f r o in t h e Christian Democrats?
The Communist party is strong and well organised, and it appears to be impossible to convince many Italians that they cannot be Catholic and Communist. There are numbers of believing and practising Catholics who will certainty vote for the extreme Left, they say in the cause of social justice. They are the Communists of Guareschi's Don Camillo.
The resurgent neo-Fascist parties are also strong, and the complicated manceuvring for alliances may result in the Communists being outvoted.
There may, too, be more people than one thinks who, distrusting the two extremes, will fall back rather half-heartedly at the last moment on Christian Democracy as the lesser evil, and it will have the support of Catholic Action. All that, however, remains to be seen.
In all their divisions there are three points on which Italians have been completely united during the last eight months, and here one can generalise.
The flood disaster of last autumn, and King George's death, roused unanimous sympathy, and in the case of the floods. universal generosity, while Trieste roused a passionate national solidarity. In each case the feeling was completely genuine.
It is impossible for English people with some fifteen hundreds years of national unity behind them to realise what Trieste means to Italians.
To the British public, naturally, Trieste is only one rather minor issue in the general political vortex; for every Italian it is an acute personal issue.
For the moment, however, division and not unity is the order of the day.