Bertinotti, Fausto

(1940– )
   A trade unionist and political activist from Milan, Fausto Bertinotti was elected president of the Chamber of Deputies in April 2006. Bertinotti’s early political training was in the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI), where he was a militant in the “maximalist” faction of the party headed by Riccardo Lombardi. Bertinotti left the PSI, however, in 1964, as a protest against its decision to join the government and eventually, in 1972, joined the Partito Comunista Italiano/ Italian Communist Party (PCI). He was by this time an important figure in the trade union movement. In 1980, Bertinotti, as regional secretary of the Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro/Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL) in Piedmont, was deeply involved in the 35-day occupation of the FIAT car plant. Bertinotti subsequently became an official at national level in the CGIL. Bertinotti opposed the decision to transform the PCI into the Partito Democratico della Sinistra/Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) after the fall of communism, although he did not initially join the breakaway Partito di Rifondazione Comunista/Communist Refoundation Party (PRC). He joined the PRC only in September 1993, but by January 1994 he was already party secretary. Bertinotti remained secretary until May 2006, being reelected four times. Bertinotti made an electoral pact with the Olive Tree Coalition, headed by Romano Prodi, during the 1996 elections. He opposed many of the government’s policies, however, and the PRC eventually brought the Prodi government down in a confidence vote in October 1998. Bertinotti’s action provoked a split in the PRC and a strong faction, led by the party’s founder, Armando Cossutta, left the party and continued to support a center-left government formed by Massimo D’Alema. Bertinotti’s PRC cultivated a strong anticapitalist, antiglobalization, anti-American line and today unquestionably ranks among the most left-wing parties in Europe. The 2001 general elections, however, showed that the PRC would underperform in electoral terms in the absence of an electoral accord with the rest of the left. The PRC was an important component of the “Union,” the winning coalition in the 2006 elections. In October 2005, Bertinotti challenged Prodi for the leadership of the coalition in nationwide primaries and obtained a respectable 15 percent of the vote.
   See also Trade Unions.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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