Bettino Craxi


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(b. 24 Feb. 1934, d. 19 Jan 2000).

Prime Minister of Italy 1983–7 Born in Milan, he joined the Socialist Party at the age of 18 and became so involved in politics that he never finished his law degree at university. He joined the party's Central Committee at the age of 22, and became provincial party secretary in 1965. A member of the Chamber of Deputies since 1968, he became Deputy Party Secretary in 1969 and Party Secretary in 1976, when a deeply divided party entered a period of crisis. Under his leadership, the Socialist Party gave up its inactive position between the Communists and the Christian Democrats in favour of participating in government with the latter at the expense of the former. His high media profile and popularity contributed to his becoming Italy's first Socialist Prime Minister, though during his tenure of office he remained above all a power‐broker interested in his own and his party's fortune rather than political or fiscal reform. Amid corruption allegations (Tangentopoli) he escaped to Tunisia, and on 29 July 1994 he was sentenced in absentia to eight and a half years' imprisonment for having accepted 7 billion lire ($4.4 million) from the corrupt Milanese Banco Ambrosiano for the Socialist Party coffers.

Subjects: Politics — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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