The partisan patterns of Italian politics were set in that election and persisted for many decades. My theory has long been that the different regions voted for the parties representing the forces that provided protection from the Nazis in the awful years from 1943 to 1945, when war raged throughout Italy, food was scarce, and safety could not be guaranteed. (For a graphic description of life in those years, see Iris Origo’s beautifully written War in Val d’Orcia.) The southern region, where the U.S. Army protected people from the Nazis and from disorder, voted for the Christian Democrats. In the so-called Red Belt region—which includes Tuscany, Umbria, and Emilia Romagna—the main protection came from Communist guerrillas, and the people there voted Communist for years after. The Lombardy and Piedmont region—with cities such as Milan and Turin—was a mixed bag; the Veneto and the Northeast, threatened by Yugoslav Communists, voted heavily for the Christian Democrats.
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