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European Parties and the European Integration Process, 1945–1992


Lucia Bonfreschi, Giovanni Orsina and Antonio Varsori

The present volume brings together three different traditions of historical study: national politics, European integration, and political parties. Since the 1980s, there has been an enlargement of the scope of political history. This attempt to transcend national boundaries can intersect with the new strands of European integration history, paying much more attention to transnational perspectives and forces. The chapters comprised in this book attempt to forge a dialogue between these new methodologies and the study of political parties in manifold ways. Firstly, in the study of party foreign and European politics – how parties have perceived themselves as belonging not only to the national political game, but also to a wider transnational, and European one. Secondly, party history can transcend national boundaries through the study of international and European party cooperation. Thirdly, it can offer worthwhile avenues of study on how political families deal with European integration not along ideological cleavages but along national ones. This volume fills a crucial gap of European historiography by comparing parties’ discourses/platforms/policies on European integration and by developing national, comparative and transnational approaches.
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The PCI and the European Integration from Eurocommunism to Berlinguer’s death



Researcher, University of Padua

Introduction: European Integration as a bridge toward a democratic credibility?

From the very beginning, the PCI harshly criticised the European integration process. From the early 1950s, it was perceived as a tool of American foreign policy, a non-acceptable intervention in the Western European geopolitical situation.1 It is worth remembering that the traditional Italian Communists’ aversion to European integration made way to a more open attitude particularly in the 1960s and, even more, in the years that followed.2 During the 1970s, under the Secretariat of Enrico Berlinguer, the PCI developed a new domestic and international policy. As it is well-known, in 1973, after the dramatic coup d’état against Salvador Allende in Chile, Berlinguer and his entourage publicly proposed the so-called historical compromise, a kind of new dialogue between the two main political actors of the country, the PCI and the Christian Democrats, 3 ← 159 | 160 → which was necessary to cope with the harsh Italian situation, characterised by an endemic political instability, wave of terrorism and tough economic crisis.4 In a few months, from an international point of view, the PCI formulated the Eurocommunist strategy.5 Built on the criticism shown towards the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, Eurocommunism aimed to be a point of reference for Communist parties in the Western bloc. In Berlinguer’s intentions, the special relationship between the French, Spanish and Italian Communists should develop into a new course that could even condition...

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