The Historic Compromise (Italian: Compromesso storico), called also Third Phase (Italian: Terza Fase) or Democratic Alternative (Italian: Alternativa Democratica), was an historical political accommodation between the Christian Democracy (DC) and the Italian Communist Party (PCI) in the 1970s.
In 1973, Enrico Berlinguer, General Secretary of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), launched in communist magazine Rinascita a proposal for a "democratic alliance" with Christian Democracy (DC), embraced by Aldo Moro. The call for this alliance was inspired by the overthrow of the Allende Government in Chile. For Berlinguer, the events in Chile proved that the Marxist left could not aspire to govern in democratic countries without establishing alliances with more moderate forces. After the 1973 Chilean coup, there was cooperation between the PCI and DC that became a political alliance in 1976. This replaced a governing alliance between Christian Democracy and the other center-left parties known as the Organic Center-left. Berlinguer's PCI attempted to distance itself from the USSR, with the launching of "Eurocommunism" along with the Spanish Communist Party and the French Communist Party.
However, the Compromise was unpopular among the other centre-leftist groups like the Italian Republican Party (PRI) and Italian Socialist Party (PSI), led respectively by Ugo La Malfa and Bettino Craxi. Also the rightist Christian Democrat Giulio Andreotti had doubts about the accommodation.
Finally, the PCI started to provide external support to a Christian Democratic one-party government led by Andreotti. Despite this, several radical communists in the PCI boycotted the government. There was an increase in far-left terrorism, mainly committed by the Red Brigades (Italian: Brigate Rosse, BR). The BR kidnapped Aldo Moro, the then Party President of DC, on 16 March 1978. After several consultations in the Italian Parliament, the government refused the terrorists' conditions, and Moro was killed on 9 May 1978. The PSI, along with the far-right Italian Social Movement (MSI), increased their votes in the 1979 general election. Nevertheless, the Compromise continued but it was in decline.
At the DC's XIV Congress in 1980, the DC's moderate wing ("Democratic Initiative", "Dorothean" and "New Force") won with an anti-communist programme, obtaining 57.7% of the vote, while the DC's conservative wing and Giulio Andreotti's faction "Spring", obtained 42.3% with a pro-Compromise program. The new DC Secretary became Flaminio Piccoli, a Dorothean, and the Compromise was discontinued. It was replaced with Christian Democracy's political alliance with the other center-left parties known as the Pentapartito.
In November 1980 Berlinguer announced the end of the Historic Compromise.