Italy in the 1970s had two traditional mass parties of the working class, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party, but to their left were several sizeable ultra-left groups, with tens of thousands of members and a group of MPs. The question has to be asked: why did these groups fail to offer an alternative when the PCI leaders entered into a pact with the Christian Democracy in 1976 and supported an austerity programme? And why did they subsequently collapse?

Renzi lost and has resigned. The result of the recent constitutional referendum is without precedent: almost twenty million NO votes buried the constitutional counter-reforms, and the Renzi government with them.

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