Italian Communist Party
The Fourth Estate
The Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI) or Italian Communist Party emerged as Partito Comunista d'Italia or Communist Party of Italy from a secession by the Leninist comunisti puri tendency from the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) during that body's congress on 21 January 1921 at Livorno. Amedeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci led the split. In 1926 the party was outlawed by the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini.
Although forced underground the PCd'I continued underground and in exile. In 1926 it's left wing led by Bordiga was finally defeated and replaced by a new leadership around Gramsci at a conference in Lyons which issued a set of thess expressing the programmatic basis of the party at that point. However Gramsci soon found himself jailed by Mussolinis repression and the leadership passed to Palmiro Togliatti. Togliatti would lead the paryy until it emerged from illegality in 1944 and relaunched itself as the Italian Communist Party.
The party took part in every government during the national liberation and constitutional periods, from June 1944 to May 1947. In the first general elections of 1948 it joined the PSI in the Democratic Popular Front but was defeated by the Christian Democracy party.
The party gained considerable electoral success during the following years and occasionally supplied external support to center-left governments, never joining directly. One of its successes was the lobbying of Fiat to set up the AutoVAZ (Lada) car factory in the Soviet Union.
In the 1970s the party moved away from Soviet obedience and marxist-leninist orthodoxy definitely embracing western democracy (eurocommunism) and sought a collaboration with Socialist and Christian Democracy parties (the historical compromise). At the time the PCI was the biggest Communist Party in a democratic state, obtaining a score of 34,4% in the 1976 general elections.
In the 1980s the party started approaching Democratic Socialism and the Socialist International.
In 1991 the PCI disbanded to form the Partito Democratico della Sinistra (PDS) or Democratic Party of the Left, with membership in the Socialist International. The communist tendency, led by Armando Cossutta, left the party to form the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) or Communist Refoundation Party.
In 1998 the PDS, with several smaller parties, the Laburisti (liberal socialists), the Cristiano Sociali (christian socialists), the Comunisti Unitari (right-wing split of the PRC), the Sinistra Repubblicana (left republicans) and the Riformatori per l'Europa (social democratic syndicalists), co-founded the "Democratici di Sinistra" (DS) or Democrats of the Left party. Later in the same year the Armando Cossutta tendency left the PRC to form the Partito dei Comunisti Italiani (PdCI) or Italian Communists Party.
Party Secretaries (in chronological order):
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