Italian Communist Party
For the Italian communist party of the 1920s, see Communist Party of Italy.
For the party founded in 2016, see Italian Communist Party (2016).
|Italian Communist Party
Partito Comunista Italiano
|General Secretaries||Palmiro Togliatti|
|Founded||21 January 1921 (1921-01-21)
(as Communist Party of Italy) 15 May 1943 (1943-05-15) (as Italian Communist Party)
|Dissolved||3 February 1991 (1991-02-03)|
|Preceded by||Italian Socialist Party|
|Succeeded by||Democratic Party of the Left
(main successor) Communist Refoundation Party (split)
|Headquarters||Via delle Botteghe Oscure 4, Rome|
|Youth wing||Communist Youth Federation|
|Political position||Before 1970s:|
|National affiliation||National Liberation Committee (1943–47)
Popular Democratic Front (1947–56)
|International affiliation||Comintern (1921–1943)
|European Parliament group||Communists and Allies (1973–1989)
European United Left (1989–1991)
It changed its name in 1943 to PCI and became the second largest political party of Italy after World War II, attracting the support of about a third of the vote share during the 1970s.
At the time, it was the largest communist party in the West, with peak support reaching 2.3 million members, in 1947, and peak share being 34.4% of the vote (12.6 million votes) in the 1976 general election.
The PCI transitioned from doctrinaire communism to democratic socialism by the 1970s or the 1980s.
The more radical members of the organization formally seceded to establish the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC).
World War II
After the fall of Mussolini's regime on 25 July 1943, the Communist Party returned to a formally legal status, playing a major role during the national liberation, known in Italy as Resistenza ("Resistance") and forming many partisan groups.
After the turn, Communists took part in every government during the national liberation and constitutional period from June 1944 to May 1947.
The Communists' contribution to the new Italian democratic constitution was decisive.
The so-called "Gullo decrees" of 1944, for instance, sought to improve social and economic conditions in the countryside.
During the Resistance, the PCI became increasingly popular, as the majority of partisans were communists.
The Garibaldi Brigades, promoted by the PCI, were among the more numerous partisan forces.
While the popular referendum resulted in the replacement of the monarchy with a republic, with the 54% of votes in favour and 46% against.
In May 1947, the PCI was excluded from the government.
While the PCI was growing particularly fast due to its organizing efforts supporting sharecroppers in Sicily, Tuscany and Umbria, movements which were also bolstered by the reforms of Fausto Gullo, the Communist Minister of Agriculture.
In the political chaos which ensued, the president engineered the expulsion of all left-wing ministers from the cabinet on 31 May.
The PCI would not have a national position in government again.
De Gasperi did this under pressure from US Secretary of State George Marshall, who'd informed him that anti-communism was a pre-condition for receiving American aid, and Ambassador James C. Dunn who had directly asked de Gasperi to dissolve the parliament and remove the PCI.
The United States spent over $10 million to support anti-PCI groups in the election.
Fearful of the possible FDP's electoral victory, the British and American governments also undermined the quest for justice by tolerating the efforts made by Italy's top authorities to prevent any of the alleged Italian war criminals from being extradited and taken to court.
The party gained considerable electoral success during the following years and occasionally supplied external support to centre-left governments, although it never directly joined a government.
After the elections of 1975, the PCI was the strongest force in nearly all of the municipal councils of the great cities.
From the 1950s to 1960s
The Soviet Union's brutal suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 created a split within the PCI.
The party leadership, including Palmiro Togliatti and Giorgio Napolitano (who in 2006 became President of the Italian Republic), regarded the Hungarian insurgents as counter-revolutionaries as reported at the time in l'Unità, the official PCI newspaper.
However, Giuseppe Di Vittorio, chief of the communist trade union Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), repudiated the leadership position as did prominent party member Antonio Giolitti and Italian Socialist Party national secretary Pietro Nenni, a close ally of the PCI.
Napolitano later hinted at doubts over the propriety of his decision.
He would eventually write in From the Communist Party to European Socialism.
A Political Autobiography (Dal Pci al socialismo europeo.
Un'autobiografia politica) that he regretted his justification of the Soviet intervention, but quieted his concerns at the time for the sake of party unity and the international leadership of Soviet Communism.
Giolitti and Nenni went on to split with the PCI over this issue.
In the mid-1960s, the United States State Department estimated the party membership to be approximately 1,350,000 (4.2% of the working age population, making it the largest communist party in per capita terms in the capitalist world at the time and the largest party at all in the whole of Western Europe with the German Social Democratic Party).
United States government sources have claimed that the party was receiving $40–50 million per year from the Soviets while the United States investment in Italy was $5–6 million.
However, declassified information shows this to be exaggerated, although the PCI relied on Soviet financial assistance more than any other communist party supported by Moscow.
The PCI’s Giorgio Amendola formally requested Soviet assistance to prepare the party in case of such an event.
The KGB drew up and implemented a plan to provide the PCI with its own intelligence and clandestine signal corps.
This was on top of the $3.5 million that the Soviet Union gave the PCI in 1971.
The Soviets also provided additional funding through the use of front companies providing generous contracts to PCI members.
In 1969, Enrico Berlinguer, PCI deputy national secretary and later secretary general, took part in the international conference of the Communist parties in Moscow, where his delegation disagreed with the "official" political line and refused to support the final report.
Unexpectedly to his hosts, his speech challenged the Communist leadership in Moscow.
He refused to "excommunicate" the Chinese Communists and directly told Leonid Brezhnev that the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact countries (which he called the "tragedy in Prague") had made clear the considerable differences within the communist movement on fundamental questions such as national sovereignty, socialist democracy and the freedom of culture.
At the time the PCI, which had absorbed the PSI's left-wing, the Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity, so strengthening its leadership over the Italian left, was the largest communist party in a capitalist state, garnering 34.4% of the vote in the 1976 general election.
Relationships between the PCI and the Soviet Union gradually fell apart as the party moved away from Soviet obedience and Marxist–Leninist orthodoxy in the 1970s and 1980s and toward Eurocommunism and the Socialist International.
The PCI sought a collaboration with Socialist and Christian Democracy parties (the Historic Compromise).
The compromise was largely abandoned as a PCI policy in 1981.
The Proletarian Unity Party merged into the PCI in 1984.
During the Years of Lead, the PCI strongly opposed the terrorism and the Red Brigades, who in turn murdered or wounded many PCI members or trade unionists close to the PCI.
According to Mitrokhin, the party asked the Soviets to pressure the Czechoslovakian State Security (StB) to withdraw their support to the group, which Moscow was unable or unwilling to do.
This as well as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan led to a complete break with Moscow in 1979.
In 1980, the PCI refused to participate in the international conference of communist parties in Paris although cash payments to the PCI continued until 1984.
Achille Occhetto became general secretary of the PCI in 1988.
At a 1989 conference in a working-class section of Bologna, Occhetto stunned the party faithful with a speech heralding the end of Communism, a move now referred to in Italian politics as the svolta della Bolognina (Bolognina turning point).
The collapse of the Communist governments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe led Occhetto to conclude that the era of Eurocommunism was over.
In all its history, the PCI was particularly strong in Central Italy, in the so-called "Red Regions" of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria and Marche, as well as in the industrialized cities of Northern Italy.
However, Communists' municipal showcase was Bologna, which was held continuously by the PCI from 1945 onwards.
Amongst other measures, the local PCI administration tackled urban problems with successful programmes of health for the elderly, nursery education and traffic reform while also undertaking initiatives in housing and school meal provisions.
From 1946 to 1956, the Communist city council built 31 nursery schools, 896 flats and 9 schools.
Health care improved substantially, street lighting was installed, new drains and municipal launderettes were built and 8,000 children received subsidised school meals.
In 1972, the then-mayor of Bologna, Renato Zangheri, introduced a new and innovative traffic plan with strict limitations for private vehicles and a renewed concentration on cheap public transport.
Bologna's social services continued to expand throughout the early and mid-1970s.
The city centre was restored, centres for the mentally sick were instituted to help those who had been released from recently closed psychiatric hospitals, handicapped persons were offered training and found suitable jobs, afternoon activities for schoolchildren were made less mindless than the traditional doposcuola (after-school activities) and school programming for the whole day helped working parents.
Communists administrations at a local level also helped to aid new businesses while also introducing innovative social reforms.
|Chamber of Deputies|
|1921||304,719 (7th)||4.6||15 / 535||15||Amedeo Bordiga|
|1924||268,191 (6th)||3.6||19 / 535||4||Antonio Gramsci|
|1929||banned||-||0 / 400||19||Antonio Gramsci|
|1934||banned||-||0 / 400||-||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1946||4,356,686 (3rd)||18.9||104 / 556||104||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1948||8,136,637 (2nd)||31.0||130 / 574||26||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1953||6,120,809 (2nd)||22.6||143 / 590||13||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1958||6,704,454 (2nd)||22.7||140 / 596||3||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1963||7,767,601 (2nd)||25.3||166 / 630||26||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1968||8,557,404 (2nd)||26.9||177 / 630||11||Luigi Longo|
|1972||9,072,454 (2nd)||27.1||179 / 630||2||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1976||12,622,728 (2nd)||34.4||228 / 630||49||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1979||11,139,231 (2nd)||30.4||201 / 630||27||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1983||11,032,318 (2nd)||29.9||198 / 630||3||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1987||10,254,591 (2nd)||26.6||177 / 630||24||Alessandro Natta|
|Senate of the Republic|
|1948||6,969,122 (2nd)||30.8||50 / 237||–||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1953||6,120,809 (2nd)||22.6||56 / 237||6||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1958||6,704,454 (2nd)||22.2||60 / 246||4||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1963||6,933,842 (2nd)||25.2||84 / 315||24||Palmiro Togliatti|
|1968||8,583,285 (2nd)||30.0||101 / 315||17||Luigi Longo|
|1972||8,475,141 (2nd)||28.1||94 / 315||7||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1976||10,640,471 (2nd)||33.8||116 / 315||22||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1979||9,859,004 (2nd)||31.5||109 / 315||7||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1983||9,579,699 (2nd)||30.8||107 / 315||2||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1987||9,181,579 (2nd)||28.3||101 / 315||6||Alessandro Natta|
|1979||10,361,344 (2nd)||29.6||24 / 81||–||Enrico Berlinguer|
|1984||11,714,428 (1st)||33.3||27 / 81||3||Alessandro Natta|
|1989||9,598,369 (2nd)||27.6||22 / 81||5||Achille Occhetto|
- Secretary: Antonio Gramsci (1926), Camilla Ravera (1927–1930), Palmiro Togliatti (1930–1934), Ruggero Grieco (1934–1938), Palmiro Togliatti (1938–1964), Luigi Longo (1964–1972), Enrico Berlinguer (1972–1984), Alessandro Natta (1984–1988), Achille Occhetto (1988–1991)
- President: Luigi Longo (1972–1980), Alessandro Natta (1989–1990), Aldo Tortorella (1990–1991)
- Leader in the Chamber of Deputies: Luigi Longo (1946–1947), Palmiro Togliatti (1947–1964), Pietro Ingrao (1964–1972), Alessandro Natta (1972–1979), Fernando Di Giulio (1979–1981), Giorgio Napolitano (1981–1986), Renato Zangheri (1986–1990), Giulio Quercini (1990–1991)
- Leader in the Senate: Mauro Scoccimarro (1948–1958), Umberto Terracini (1958–1973), Edoardo Pema (1973–1986), Gerardo Chiaromonte (1983–1986), Ugo Pecchioli (1986–1991)
- Leader in the European Parliament: Giorgio Amendola (1979–1980), Guido Fanti (1980–1984), Giovanni Cervetti (1984–1989), Luigi Alberto Colajanni (1989–1991)
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian Communist Party.