Italian Socialist Party

   Founded in 1892, the Italian Socialist Party (Partito Socialista Italiano—PSI) traditionally struggled to gain a foothold in Italy, largely because of the strength of the other group on the left, the Italian Communist Party. The PSI joined the Third International in 1919, though hopes of progression were stunted first by the departure of left-wing party members who broke away to form the Communist Party, and then by repression at the hands of Benito Mussolini’s “Blackshirt” forces. Having been banned by Mussolini in 1926, the PSI continued to meet in Paris, and in 1934 signed a Unity of Action agreement aimed at mutual cooperation in labor affairs with the Italian Communist Party that was to last until the middle of the 1950s.
   However, from that period onwards the two parties begin to pursue different courses, and in 1978 moderate leader Bettino Craxi dropped all mentions of Marxism from the PSI constitution, re-fashioning the party into a social democratic organization. In 1983 Craxi’s PSI became Italy’s first socialist government, serving until 1987 and then again as a coalition partner from 1989 to 1994. However, the PSI came to a spectacular if inauspicious end in that final year of governance as Craxi and a host of party luminaries were convicted of fraud. Disgraced, the PSI was liquidated by its own members, and reformed as the low-profile Italian Socialists (Socialisti Italiani—SI). Following the 2001 general election, a number of former PSI affiliates tasted power once more, as their Socialist Party–New PSI (Partito SocialistaNuovo PSI—PS-NPSI) became part of Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing House of Freedoms Coalition. That they did so indicated just how comprehensively Marxism has been discarded by much of the Italian left.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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