- Craxi, Bettino Benedetto
▪ 2001Italian politician (b. Feb. 24, 1934, Milan, Italy—d. Jan. 19, 2000, Hammamet, Tun.), was Italy's first Socialist prime minister; elected to successive terms (1983–87), he was also the country's longest-serving prime minister of the post-World War II years. He joined the Socialist Youth Movement in his late teens and became a member of the Italian Socialist Party's central committee in 1957. He was elected to a seat in the national Chamber of Deputies in 1968 and became a deputy secretary of the Socialist Party in 1970. After the Socialists performed badly in the 1976 general elections, Craxi became the party's general secretary. He proceeded to unite the faction-ridden party, committed it to moderate social and economic policies, and tried to dissociate it from the much larger Communist Party. Under his leadership the Socialists were members in five of Italy's six coalition governments from 1980 to 1983. His decision to pull out of the Christian Democrat-led coalition in April 1983 provoked general elections in June that resulted in his being invited to form a government. He formed a coalition government with the Christian Democrats and several small, moderate parties. As prime minister he pursued anti-inflationary fiscal policies and steered a pro-American course in foreign affairs. He formed a new coalition government in 1986 but resigned in early 1987. In February 1993 multiple charges of political corruption forced Craxi, who denied the allegations, to resign his post as party leader. He left Italy for Tunisia later that year. The government continued to investigate charges against him, and in 1994 he was twice sentenced in absentia to prison terms resulting from some of these charges.
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