Craxi, Benedetto (Bettino)

   Born in Milan, Craxi’s early political career was in local government. The protege of Italian socialism’s historic leader, Pietro Nenni, he was elected to the national executive committee of the Partito Socialista Italiano/ Italian Socialist Party (PSI) in 1965 and three years later was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. In 1976, he took the place of Francesco De Martino as party leader after the PSI’s poor performance in the elections of that year.
   As party leader, he initially followed an opportunistic line trying to undercut the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party’s (PCI) support among the organized working class by espousing far-left policies. He was the only politician to favor negotiating with the Brigate Rosse/Red Brigades (BR) during the kidnapping of Aldo Moro in 1978. After the 1979 general elections, President Alessandro Pertini gave Craxi the burden of trying to form a coalition government, but Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy (DC) opposition blocked this move.
   Despite the DC’s hostility, Craxi realized that the 1979 elections had left the PSI as the fulcrum of the political system because the DC could not continue to govern without the PSI’s parliamentary support. At the PSI’s congress in April 1981, Craxi pragmatically transformed its platform along centrist, social democratic lines, and launched his own candidacy for the prime ministership with American-style attention to the publicization of his personality and image. Initially disappointed in his objectives (the first non-DC prime minister was Giovanni Spadolini of the Partito Repubblicano Italiano/Italian Republican Party (PRI) in June 1981), Craxi finally became premier in August 1983, at the head of a five-party coalition, the so-called pentapartito.
   Craxi governed until April 1987, winning an inflated reputation for decisive leadership both in Italy and abroad. By standing up to the trade unions and the PCI when they tried to restore, via referendum, a law ensuring automatic cost-of-living pay increases, he weakened the power of organized labor. And although he was a strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and respected by the Ronald Reagan administration, Craxi did not hesitate to reject American demands for the surrender of the Arab terrorists who murdered an American citizen on the Italian cruise liner, the Achille Lauro, in 1985. Despite these achievements, Craxi’s premiership represented the beginning of the end for the Italian party system. Determined both to overtake the PCI and to rival the DC, the PSI plunged both hands into the pork barrel while in government. Italy’s economic boom in the 1980s was largely due to the Italian state’s generosity as the PSI and the DC competed to outspend one another, with apparent disregard for Italy’s public finances. By 1990 Italy’s national debt stood at 100 percent of GDP, and the country was risking bankruptcy. For two years after the end of his premiership, Craxi engaged in a bitter struggle for power with the leader of the DC, Ciriaco De Mita. Craxi essentially won this political battle. The DC replaced De Mita with Arnaldo Forlani in February 1989, and the PSI was given a large number of important (and patronage-rich) ministries in the July 1989 government formed by Giulio Andreotti. Craxi, Andreotti, and Forlani governed as a triumvirate until April 1992. These years saw the end of all fiscal restraint in Italian government and were the high tide of corruption among the Italian political elite.
   After December 1992, Craxi became the target of dozens of corruption inquiries. He was eventually found guilty in four separate trials and was condemned to long prison sentences. From 1994 onward, however, he resided—in defiance of a court order for his return to Italy—in his luxurious villa in Hammamet, Tunisia. Craxi died in Tunisia in January 2000. Remarkably, a number of leading Italian politicians, notably Silvio Berlusconi, have portrayed Craxi as a victim of judicial persecution.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bettino Craxi — ( Aussprache?/ …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Craxi — (Italian pronunciation: [ˈkraksi]) may refer to: Benedetto Bettino Craxi (1934–2000), an Italian politician Stefania (Gabriella Anastasia) Craxi (born 1960, Milan), an Italian politician, daughter of Bettino (Vittorio) Bobo Craxi (born 1964 …   Wikipedia

  • Bettino Craxi — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Craxi. Bettino Craxi Bettino Craxi en 1978 Mandats …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Benedetto Craxi — …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Craxi — …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Bettino Craxi — Infobox Prime Minister name = Bettino Craxi order = 66th Prime Minister of Italy president = Alessandro Pertini Francesco Cossiga deputy = Arnaldo Forlani term start = 4 August 1983 term end = 17 April 1987 predecessor = Amintore Fanfani… …   Wikipedia

  • Craxi — Crạxi,   Benedetto (Bettino), italienischer Politiker, * Mailand 24. 2. 1934, ✝ Hammamat (Tunesien) 19. 1. 2000; studierte Geschichte, schloss sich früh den Sozialisten an und übernahm hauptamtlich Funktionen im »Partito Socialista Italiano«… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Benedetto Craxi — Bettino Craxi Élu le: Premier prédécesseur: Amintore Fanfani Premier successeur: Amintore Fanfani Date de naissance: 24 février 1934 Lieu de naissance …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Bettino Ricasoli — Mandats 2e et 7e président du Conseil des ministres italie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Craxi, Bettino — orig. Benedetto Craxi born Feb. 24, 1934, Milan, Italy died Jan. 19, 2000, Al Hammamet, Tun. Italian politician, Italy s first socialist prime minister (1983–87). Involved initially with the socialist youth movement, he won election to the… …   Universalium

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