Bernd Rother

«Era ora che ci vedessimo». Brandt and the Pci

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: European politics, 1960-1980, Italian Communist Party, German Social Democracy.

Direct contacts between the Spd and the Pci started at the end of the 1960's in the context of Ostpolitik when the Italian communists helped conveying information and opinions between the German social democrats and communist governments. Under Enrico Berlinguer, the Pci tried to intensify the contacts. He pursued a double aim: easing off the links with the orthodox Communist parties and gaining respectability among Italian voters. Despite sharing in several programmatic issues with the Spd, Berlinguer did not want to transform his party into a socialist democratic one. But he hoped to establish regular, official relations between his party and the Spd. Among the leading European socialists and social democrats of the 1970's and 1980's, Willy Brandt was the only one who without reservations supported the Italian Communists on their way to embracing parliamentary democracy and a mixed economy. Only his Swedish comrade Olof Palme wholeheartedly shared Brandt's conviction that the PCI meant it seriously. Nevertheless, Brandt chose to act behind the scenes. He preferred informal contacts without too much publicity. Brandt had to be considerate of traditional German anticommunism as well as of the Italian socialists' mistrust against their rival to the left. Things started to change in the 1980's. After Berlinguer's sudden death and with the profound transformations in the Soviet Union the Pci abandoned the third way between orthodox communism and social democracy and openly declared its will to join the Socialist International. Willy Brandt was instrumental to convince Italian socialist leader Bettino Craxi to finally accept that the renamed ex-Communists could join the Socialist International in 1992.

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