Craxi, Bettino bətē´nō kră´ksē [key], 1934–99, Italian political leader. Craxi joined the Italian Socialist party in 1957, eventually becoming deputy secretary (1970) and general secretary (1976). As Italy's first Socialist prime minister (1983–87), he headed a successful coalition government. He cracked down on organized crime, tightened the national budget to cut inflation, and signed a concordat with the Vatican ending Roman Catholicism's status as the state religion. In 1993 he was charged with corruption and resigned as Socialist party leader. Proclaiming his innocence, Craxi fled Italy for Tunisia shortly before his conviction in 1994; he was subsequently convicted on other corruption charges. He died in self-imposed exile.
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