- (1926– )Acard-carrying member of the Partito dei Comunisti Italiani/Party of Italian Communists (PCI) and a partisan when he was just 17 years old, Cossutta has never wavered in his communist faith. Imprisoned in the latter stages of the war, he rose in the hierarchy of the PCI by dint of becoming a contributor to both L’Unita and Rinascita (respectively, the daily newspaper and theoretical weekly of the PCI) and a tireless party worker in his native Milan. In 1966, he was invited to join the national secretariat in Rome. Within 10 years, he was put in charge of coordination with regional and other autonomous areas, a position that he held until 1983. During that period, he was elected simultaneously to the Chamber of Deputies and to the Italian Senate on the PCI list in six elections, beginning in 1972. In each case, he opted for accepting the Senate seat.Within the party, his was the voice of a shrinking minority of carristi.In the 1983 congress and in that of 1986, he was in the forefront of those who dissented from the party’s move away from its traditional acceptance of the Soviet model. Continuing in his losing battle in favor of Stalinist orthodoxy, Cossutta fought Achille Occhetto’s attempts to replace the PCI with a new progressive party every step of the way. Cossutta was the preferred Italian point of reference for the Soviet leadership and was one of the few Western politicians to welcome the attempted coup by Soviet hardliners against Mikhail Gorbachev in August 1991.The PCI’s February 1991 decision to abandon its communist identity prompted Cossutta to depart and form a new movement, the Partito di Rifondazione Comunista/Communist Refoundation Party (PRC). Cossutta was elected its first secretary at its initial congress in January 1992 and, as Fausto Bertinotti’s star waxed, subsequently became president of the PRC. In 1998, Cossuta dissented from the PRC’s decision to overthrow the government of Romano Prodi and became one of the founding members of a new political formation, the Comunisti d’Italia/Communists of Italy (PDCI).
Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. Mark F. Gilbert & K. Robert Nilsson. 2007.
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