ITALY: A Word of Warning

Italy was in the midst of a government crisis again, created by the downfall of wispy, white-haired Premier Antonio Segni. But what seemed only an annual event (Premiers have averaged ten months in office since Italy's late great Alcide de Gasperi was defeated in 1953) became something more last week. Courteous, conservative Cesare Merzagora, 61, longtime president of Italy's Senate, dramatically posed a fundamental question: How healthy is Italy's 15-year-old postwar democracy?

Merzagora's political patience was exhausted by the extralegal manner in which Segni's minority Christian Democratic government tiptoed out of office. Fortnight ago, outraged by President Giovanni Gronchi's humiliating...

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