The cliché that Italy had 50 governments in its first 50 years of democracy is often used as an example of political instability. However, Italy's main political problem was actually the opposite. Where the governments of other western countries alternated between left and right wing parties, Italy's government remained in the hands of the Christian Democrats and their allies throughout the whole of the period of the so called 'First Republic', since it was politically unacceptable for a communist party to rule a western country during the Cold war period.
During the 1960s, Aldo Moro, a relatively left-leaning Christian Democrat, unsuccessfully attempted to include the socialists in the government. He would later try to include the communist party as well in a deal called 'The Historical Compromise'. In 1978, this attempt was brought to an abrupt halt by the kidnapping and murder of Moro by the Red Brigades, an extremist left-wing terror organisation.
At this time, the Communist Party was the largest in western Europe, and it has remained so ever since. Their appeal to Italians has been mainly due to the Party's independence from Moscow, their rejection of extremism and their reasonable, practical approach to politics.