Christian Democrats shift leaders to regain clout

The Italian Christian Democratic Party elected a new leader in an effort to reassert its dominant position in the country's postwar politics. Ciriaco de Mita, a Naples lawyer, was elected to the powerful post of party secretary with the support of left-wing and centrist party factions at the Christian Democratic Party Congress in Rome.

The election reflected a new alignment of factions within the party rather than a significant shift in policy, political analysts said. But one consequence is likely to be a tougher Christian Democrat line with the Socialists in the country's coalition government.

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