May 1947 crises

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The May 1947 crises (or exclusion crises), when the Communists were excluded from the government in Italy and France, are commonly reckoned the start of the Cold War in Europe.

In Italy, the Christian Democrats, led by Alcide De Gasperi, were becoming increasingly unpopular, and were afraid that the leftist coalition would take power.[1] The government expelled the ministers of the Communist Party of Italy (PCI) under pressure from United States President Harry Truman.

In France, as a result of the conflicting policies of members of the governing coalition, and of increasing suspicion of the Communists French Communist Party (PCF), tension within government increased. The Communist ministers opposed the government in a vote on wages policies, and, on 5 May 1947, were expelled from the government. The party's absence from government in France lasted well beyond the fall of the Fourth Republic, and the effect of this absence upon the party system and the stability of government have prompted historians such as Williams to describe 5 May 1947 as 'the most important date in the history of the Fourth Republic'.[2] A further factor in the expulsion of the Communists was the exertion of US influence through the Marshall Plan.


  1. ^ Ginsborg, A History of Contemporary Italy, pp. 111–113
  2. ^ Williams, 'Crisis and Compromise', pg. 26