The Italian communist leader Pietro Ingrao has died just months after his 100th birthday.

Born into a family of landowners he became a communist after university studies in law, humanities and cinema and under the impact of the Spanish Civil War.

Under the fascist regime he worked clandestinely for years, joining the partisans and after the fascist regime fell he was elected to parliament eventually becoming president of the Partito Comunista Italiano group of deputies and Speaker of the House. He edited the party newspaper l’Unita, founded by Gramsci.

He led a tendency in the Italian party that combined a left critique of the increasingly reformist leadership with criticism of aspects of socialism as it had developed in the Socialist countries.

A powerful intellectual and ideologist he paid especial attention to the party’s relationship with the masses and with youth. He was highly tuned to the political consequences of ideological developments and the role of ideas in leadership.

He was closely associated with the newspaper il manifesto and was in solidarity with the group of including Lucio Magri, Luigi Pintor, Rossana Rossanda, Aldo Natoli, Luciana Castellina and Valentino Parlato who were expelled from the PCI.

He disagreed with the line of Achille Ochetto and the so-called Bologna turn which formally transformed the PCI in a social democratic direction as the Party of Democratic Socialism, then as the Democratic left and eventually as the Partito Democratico on the US model.

He backed Rifondazione Comunista but following its fracturing he supported the most reformist of the fragments SEL Left, Ecology and Liberty.

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