ITALY: The Communists: A Step Closer to Power

At the austere sandstone palazzo that houses Communist Party headquarters on Rome's Street of the Dark Shops, open telephone lines crackled as apparatchiks from Milan to Catania called in excitedly with the latest tallies. Over the party's closed-circuit television network, a bearded youth in shirtsleeves and a sleek blonde in a denim jacket broadcast the figures and forecast results.

Even before the final totals rolled in from Italy's first regional elections in five years, Communist leaders were agape at what they were seeing. In contests for 15 of Italy's 20 regional governments, 86...

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