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Italian Communist Party (PCI) 1950s

The PCI grew more accommodating of Italy's pro-western posture. Italy's membership in NATO and the Common Market, for example, was eventually accepted. Although the PCI condoned the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, it renounced the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. In time the PCI would grow altogether independent of Soviet international policy. This growing moderation on the part of the PCI proved disturbing to elements of the extreme left. At the same time, the ultra-right grew restive over the DC's growing moderation. These trends were viewed as a threat by both extremes. Combined with other social and economic developments these events would prove volatile.

The PCI, a principal heir of the resistance movement of World War II, had long been the political party in Italy with the largest number of votes after the Christian Democratic Party, the key member of every coalition government of the previous 20 years. Having achieved such success and come so close to victory through the democratic political process, the PCI had been increasingly keen to win a part in national rule. The Italian Communist leadership first advocated "polycentrism" -- a degree of autonomy for each national party -- in June 1956. In a published interview that year, PCI leader Palmiro Togliatti pointed out that "there are many roads to socialism" and insisted on a system in which bilateral party relationships would replace complete dependence on the USSR. Under pressure, however, he subsequently modified these views by calling for "democratic centralism." Togliatti redefined this term to involve close contacts with the Soviet Union, but allowed for certain variations in policy to take account of national considerations in each country.

In the Eight Congress (December 1956) the right wing of PCI, taking advantage of the success got by the revisionist group of Khrushchev in the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (February 1956), liquidated what remained of communist programmatic bases.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:04:07 ZULU