Western European Communism

April 23, 1976

Report Outline
Concern Over New Party Directions
Failure of Communists in Portugal
Emergence of European Communism
Alternatives for Western Communists
Special Focus

Concern Over New Party Directions

Fears in Both Soviet Union and United States

The concerted efforts of the Communist parties of Western Europe to attain power peacefully through the electoral process may become one of the major political dramas of the 1970s. Many Western European Communists profess the benign nature of their Marxism and assert their independence from the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, their actions hold promises and threats for both Moscow and Washington. The United States fears the prospect of Communists gaining control of the governments of longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) allies. The Soviet Union fears the development of independent and liberalized Communist parties that could strongly influence discontented Soviet satellite governments in Eastern Europe.

Two elections in the days and months ahead could tell much about the future trend of communism in Western Europe. On April 25, in Portugal's first national legislative elections in nearly 50 years, the Communists are expected to fare badly because of general disapproval of their efforts last fall to create a revolutionary state by force (See p. 288). But in Italy, where the governing Christian Democratic Party probably will resign soon and is expected to call for elections in June, the Communists easily could become the largest party in the government (see p. 299).

If the Russians feel threatened by a communism that is democratic, the United States feels threatened by a Europe that could turn Marxist. Speaking to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washington, D.C., on April 13, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said: “I believe the advent of Communists in Western European countries is likely to produce a sequence of events in which other European countries will also be tempted to move in the same direction.” This enunciation of what is, in effect, a “domino theory” for Europe was among Kissinger's most forceful statements yet on the dangers he sees for the Atlantic alliance.

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Apr. 23, 1976  Western European Communism
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Nov. 20, 1968  Intellectuals in Communist Countries
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Oct. 18, 1967  Soviet Communism After Fifty Years
Sep. 21, 1966  Soviet Economy: Incentives Under Communism
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Apr. 25, 1962  Teaching About Communism
Dec. 01, 1960  Farming and Food in Communist Lands
Apr. 27, 1960  Communist Party, U.S.A.
Nov. 07, 1956  Reds and Redefection
Apr. 11, 1956  Communists and Popular Fronts
Dec. 07, 1955  Religion Behind the Iron Curtain
Nov. 12, 1954  Communist Controls
Feb. 11, 1953  Red Teachers and Educational Freedom
Apr. 04, 1950  Loyalty and Security
Aug. 19, 1949  Church and Communism
Jul. 22, 1949  Reds in Trade Unions
Jul. 05, 1949  Academic Freedom
Feb. 11, 1948  Control of Communism in the United States
Feb. 05, 1947  Investigations of Un-Americanism
Nov. 13, 1946  Communism in America
Mar. 28, 1935  Anti-Radical Agitation
Oct. 19, 1932  The Socialist Vote in 1932
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Regional Political Affairs: Europe
U.S. at War: Cold War