Keywords: Italian Politics - Italian Communist Party - Chilean coup
The article deals with a recent episode of Italian political history which has been lately the object of a heated debate: the proposal for an alliance between Italy's Christian Democrat Party (Dc) and the Italian Communist Party (Pci). Crafted by Enrico Berlinguer, general secretary of the Pci, the plan was called "compromesso storico" (historic compromise). It was launched in the aftermath of the Chilean coup of September 1973. Historians have long assumed that Berlinguer's decision stemmed mainly from domestic concerns. Thus until now they have failed to analyze the specific lessons that the Italian Communists drew from the Chilean events. Drawing on Pci archival sources, the article shows that Berlinguer's awareness of the contradictions marring the Chilean Left's relations with Chile's Christian Democrats was instrumental in shaping his policy. A second goal of the article is to chart how the Pci turned the Chilean tragedy into an Italian political issue and to explore the Communist use of the Chilean experience as a warning to the Dc to rule out any anti-communist policy that might destabilize the Italian democracy.