How Britain plotted coup d’état to topple Italy’s Communists

By Peter Popham
14 January 2018

Britain and its Nato allies considered organising a coup in Italy in 1976 to prevent the Communist Party from coming to power, Foreign Office papers reveal.

The documents, made public after 30 years, were unearthed by an Italian researcher in the government archives at Kew, Surrey. In 1976, the Cold War was still raging, Henry Kissinger was the US Secretary of State and Italy’s political situation was a shambles.

After 30 years of domination by the corrupt Christian Democrat party (DC), the country was ready for change. The Partito Comunista Italiana (PCI), led by the moderate Enrico Berlinguer, was the only political force which seemed to offer it. In an election scheduled for 20 June 1976, there was a strong chance it would beat the Christian Democrats into second place and lead a coalition.