General Motion Approved by the XVIIIth Congress (Extraordinary) of the PR (Rome, May 7,8, 1977)

General Motion Approved by the XVIIIth Congress (Extraordinary) of the PR (Rome, May 7,8, 1977)

ABSTRACT: The XVIIIth Congress (extraordinary) meets in Rome during a campaign to collect signatures for the eight referendums petition. In spite of the good results obtained up to that time (about 320,000 signatures in little more than a month), the campaign is in danger of failing. The Congress warns of two dangers: on the one hand the massive operation of disinformation on the part of the RAI, not only in regard to all Radical actions, but in particular with regard to the citizens who have been kept in the dark about the referendum campaign and thus deprived of the right to express their will on a constitutionally guaranteed initiative; on the other hand there is the dramatic financial position of the party which cannot guarantee the continuation of the campaign which thus is in danger of failing.
The XVIIIth Congress is important primarily as a factor in presenting the referendum to the public. The party, which bears the entire burden of collecting the signatures, here finds new energy and concentration for continuing the fight. Even with regard to the fund-raising plan, and although the objectives of the Congress have not been reached, there has been a noteworthy increase in self-financing which hit the considerable figure of 150 million lire in June.
("The Battles, the Victories and the Proposals of the Radicals as Seen in their Congressional Documents and Statute" - November 1985 - edited by Maurizio Griffo - Pamphlet published by the the Radical Party Treasury)


There is a constantly wider demand in the country for liberty and radical change for an alternative to the Christian Democratic regime - a thrust from the people that, if turned into policy by the institutions, could be a way out of the moral, social and political crisis into which the country has been thrown. Against this there is forming around the DC a convergence of traditional leftist groups within the system of classist, clerical and corporative power that increasingly reduce our democracy to an empty appearance without alternatives and without political struggle.

By now the suffocation of freedom of information has become a central part of this design which sees the left tied up in a compromise that is by now only a compromise of regime tending to trample down the thrusts of civil society and eliminate dissent by making it a crime or making it impotent.

The Radicals point out that this freedom is one of the focal points upon which the future of Italian democracy depends.

In a mass society, consent and dissent are by now strictly connected to the transmission of political messages. And this is valid not so much and not only for the right of political groups to transmit their proposals, as it is for the right of the citizens to know in order to choose.

It has by now been possible to ascertain that the people have always chosen change and freedom each time that they have been given the chance to know the big issues of the political struggle, thanks to adequate information that, for the most part, has been the hard won victory of the democratic battles in which the Radicals have played a great part.

This has punctually occurred in all Radical civil rights battles which reached a culminating point in the May 13, 1974 referendum on divorce. There can be no mass struggle and thus no truly democratic choice without concretely exercising the right to freedom of information. That is why referendums and information are strictly and inevitably connected.

Therefore the Radicals see one of the greatest obstacles to the referendum campaign of the party, as well as to the very institution of referendums as such, and to the exercise of political rights in Italy as provided for in the Constitutional Charter, in the RAI-TV's ignoring of the Constitutional norms, the law of the land, and in particular the reform law approved in 1975.

Therefore the Radical Party believes that the current battle for the eight referendums today cannot be disconnected from the battle for free and correct information concerning them and consequently concerning every other referendum action undertaken in the future whatever may be the party promoting it.

The extraordinary Congress of the Radical Party, seeing that in a period of dramatic and very important culminating points in the Radical Party's battles climaxing in the 73 day fast of the National Secretary, the President of the Federative Council and other directors and party activists and the campaign for the eight referendums, the RAI-TV "reformed" in 1977, according to a study conducted by Demoskopea dedicated 1.8% of its political news to the Radical Party and the battles for civil rights and political alternatives, thus conforming to the corporative practice begun under Fascism and continued by the DC regime, according to which the news is reported not according to its contents but on the basis of the presumed authoritativeness of the sources;

seeing that the Parliamentary Commission on the Direction and Control of the RAI-TV was obliged to censure the radio-tv agency for this reason on the evidence of the facts, and that subsequently the reduced committee of the same Commission preferred to take on the responsibility of clamorously contradicting that opinion rather than to allow the citizens to know and thus be able to judge and evaluate this initiative;
that even this very serious action on the part of the Commission was entirely ignored by the press too;

believes that notwithstanding such systematic censorship practised by all the information media of the regime, the result of 320,000 authenticated signatures on each referendum and the 48 million lire of self-financing reached by the subscription initiated by the Congress itself, shows once again that the radical and libertarian positions and battles in the country do not only represent the citizens already disposed to vote for the Radical Party, but, just as in yesterday's issues of divorce and abortion, represent the great majority of the country and prefigure a possible large historical democratic block for an alternative to the DC regime.

On the thrust of this result, the Congress confirms and strengthens the commitment of all the party, its associations, and its activists for the collection of the remaining 380,000 signatures necessary for the success of the referendum campaign and the other funds needed for the self-financing of the party.

Points out in confirming its decisive refusal to use the public financing funds that are due to the Radical Party in any way, form or for whatever reason, that only by pursuing and strengthening the most rigorous self-financing policy will it be possible for the Radical Party to present the Constitutional Court with the 700 thousand signatures for the referendum by June 30 as well as to make a deep and decisive mark on Italian political life in the coming years. It is to be hoped that such a praxis of self-management and self-financing will make it possible to exclude in the future, for all Radicals, the extreme measure of non-violent civil disobedience which is the hunger strike that, in the present situation of mass information media could only lead to dramatic and certainly very dangerous results.

Makes an urgent appeal to Radical militants, to Socialist, Communist and democratic citizens and voters to assure that on the thirtieth anniversary of the republican Constitution in April or May 1978, a lay and democratic Italy, anti-authoritarian and Socialist, which has matured and grown through the social and civil battles of these last years, will push into the minority opposition in Parliament and in the country, that regime which has inherited everything that could still be saved of Fascism after the Resistance and the liberation, thus plunging the country after thirty years into a spiral of disorder, corruption, economic and civil decay which only the great popular battles for an alternative can hope to undo.

The Congress, in confirming the goals to be fought for already approved by the preceding motion, offers the following immediate objectives regarding information:

1) the request for news services on the contents and the motivations of the eight referendums each of which should last at least fifteen minutes, of which a part will be self-produced, to be broadcast on all the radio and television networks as compensation for the lack of information disseminated by the RAI-TV ever since the presentation of the referendum petition to the Constitutional Court last January;

2) the request for two debates lasting ninety minutes each, in which all political parties will participate so that the citizens can learn the views of the various political groups on the issue.

To reach these objectives, the Congress:

convenes two days of national mobilisation on May 12 and 13 for freedom of information on radio and television and asks the members and associations to employ the necessary direct actions of civil disobedience;

determines to direct these requests to the RAI-TV's administrative council, the presidency of the Chamber and the Senate, the Interparliamentary Commission of Direction and Control, as well as to the workers, journalists and employees of the RAI-TV and their union representatives;

determines to ask the President of the Constitutional Court to immediately place on the order of the day the question of the constitutional legitimacy of the reform law raised by the Rome police magistrate on January 3, 1976 and until now ignored by the Court itself, a very serious responsibility, so that the legitimacy of several norms of the reform law and certain competencies attributed to the Parliamentary commission of Direction and Control can at last be clarified;

determines to promote a legal action against the RAI-TV for damages, expenses and all other consequent impediments to its activities sustained by the need of meeting expenditures due to the radio and television agency's not respecting its constitutional and legal duties.

Asks the National Secretariat to organise, if these provisions should turn out to be inefficacious, a mass campaign of fiscal disobedience with regard to paying the radio-TV subscription tax.

Determines, in conclusion, to convene as of this moment a large Radical information conference in June where a through debate can be held, and the ways and dates determined, for a democratic battle to reappropriate this freedom that by now is so closely linked to the destiny of democracy.