The Italian Communist Party (Italian: Partito Comunista Italiano, PCI) was a communist political party in Italy.
The PCI was founded as Communist Party of Italy on 21 January 1921 in Livorno, by seceding from the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). Amadeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci led the split. Outlawed during the Fascist regime, the party played a major part in the Italian resistance movement. It changed its name in 1943 to PCI and became the second largest political party of Italy after World War II, attracting the support of about a third of the voters during the 1970s. At the time it was the largest communist party in the West (2.3 million members in 1947 and 34.4% of the vote in 1976).
In 1991 the PCI, which had travelled a long way from doctrinaire communism to democratic socialism by the 1970s or the 1980s, evolved into the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS), which joined the Socialist International and the Party of European Socialists. The more radical members of the party left to form the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC).
The Soviet Union's brutal suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 created a split within the PCI. The party leadership, including Palmiro Togliatti and Giorgio Napolitano (who in 2006 became President of the Italian Republic), regarded the Hungarian insurgents as counter-revolutionaries, as reported at the time in l'Unità, the official PCI newspaper. However Giuseppe Di Vittorio, chief of the communist trade union Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL), repudiated the leadership position, as did prominent party member Antonio Giolitti and Italian Socialist Party national secretary Pietro Nenni, a close ally of the PCI. Napolitano later hinted at doubts over the propriety of his decision. He would eventually write in From the Communist Party to European Socialism. A political autobiography (Dal Pci al socialismo europeo. Un'autobiografia politica) that he regretted his justification of the Soviet intervention, but quieted his concerns at the time for the sake of party unity and the international leadership of Soviet communism. Giolitti and Nenni went on to split with the PCI over this issue. Napolitano became a leading member of the miglioristi faction within the PCI, which promoted a social-democratic direction in party policy.