Past: March Toward Democracy
Giorgio Napolitano is known for his dedication to the cause of Parliamentary democracy and his contribution to the rapprochement between the Italian Left and European Socialism.
As one of the most prominent leaders of the Italian Communist Part (PCI), Napolitano, a former President of the Republic of Italy, has been pivotal in moving his party from the Soviet orbit and orienting it toward a European model of social-democracy. With the realignment of the Italian political scene in the 1980s, he was a crucial player in the process of the Italian “Historical Compromise,” bridging the chasm between the Italian Left and Right, thus integrating the PCI fully into Italian politics and enabling it to participate in government for the first time since World War II.
Napolitano became one of the first members of the PCI to serve in an Italian government coalition, was later elected Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, and in 2006, his election as President of the Italian Republic was supported by a wide parliamentary coalition, involving parties from the full spectrum of Italian politics.
Napolitano’s actions – moving the PCI toward a pan-European and also Atlanticist position – had wider repercussions influencing other European left-wing parties. He established the autonomy of the PCI vis-à-vis Moscow by adopting a courageously independent stance criticizing the Soviet intervention in Prague in 1968 and enacting a more measured and balanced policy toward the Middle East.
Napolitano’s courage and intellectual integrity have been crucial in healing the wounds of the Cold War in Europe, as well as the scars in Italian politics and culture in the wake of fascism. He contributed to strengthening democratic values and institutions in Italy and in Europe and helped integrate members and parties of the extreme left into the democratic structure of parliamentary politics. His many books attest to a deep commitment to democracy, tolerance and an open society, alongside cultural richness drawing from the best traditions of the European Enlightenment and the liberal and democratic Italian Risorgimento, inspired by the thoughts of Mazzini and his generation.
In the current, somewhat chaotic climate of Italian politics, he stands as a beacon of reason, moderation, democratic values and tolerance, admired and respected by members of all parties and persuasions.