Within the political and public debate on the much-discussed Italian counter-terrorism legislation (in particular, the so-called "Moro decree", the "Cossiga Law" and the "Law on mafia’s pentiti"), the paper analyses the position of the Italian Socialist Party towards terrorism and the initiatives taken by different Italian gov-ernments to combat the subversive phenomenon between 1978 and 1982. The essay reappraises the role played by the Psi in the debate on these new measures, in particular at the time of the kidnapping of Moro and D’Urso and of the referen-dum to abrogate the laws on public order. It highlights the main issues of the inter-nal party debate and the positions officially adopted by the Psi in the press and in Parliament. The essay takes into consideration the Psi’s long-lasting tradition of so-called garantismo and active protection of civil liberties, as well as the role played by the party secretary general Bettino Craxi. It also analyses the attitude of the Italian Socialist Party towards the different coalition governments that ruled from 1978 to 1982 (from "national solidarity" governments to the so-called pentaparti-to) and the relationship with the Communist Party. The worsening of this relation-ship, indeed, is a key to the interpretation of the "duel" within the Left. The essay is based on parliamentary sources, the records of personal and Psi archives and the party press.
Keywords: Italian Socialist Party, Italian counter-terrorism laws of the 1970s, Cossiga law, Bettino Craxi, protection of civil liberties, law on mafia’s pentiti.