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historic compromise

The term ‘historic compromise’ was coined by Communist leader Enrico Berlinguer in 1973 to indicate a possible governing coalition between the DC and the PCI. After the military takeover of Chile in September 1973, Berlinguer proposed collaboration with the Christian Democrats in order to prevent a similar response from the Italian Right. It thus began as a defensive policy but soon developed into a grand strategy by which Catholics and communists could work together. In practical terms-and during a time when terrorism appeared a real threat-it produced governments of ‘national solidarity’ (summer 1976-spring 1979). By 1978, the PCI was drawing up programmes and voting with the government. In effect, however, the historic compromise became a policy of cooptation and neutralization of the PCI by the DC, who appeared the ultimate winner. The idea was eventually abandoned, partly due to the assassination of its strongest DC supporters, Aldo Moro, by the Red Brigades in 1977, and partly because many in the PCI vehemently opposed it.