The second half of the 1970's saw the emergence of Eurocommunism as a pole of attraction and topic of controversy on the already crowded spectrum of European Marxist currents. The term itself, coined in late 1975 by the Yugoslav-born correspondent of a centrist Italian news magazine, was widely adopted by journalists, politicians and academics alike. But the nature of the phenomenon it sought to describe remained elusive. While government spokesmen on both halves of the European continent derided Eurocommunism as a political ruse of the other side, more dispassionate analysts tried to fathom its essential characteristics. 1 Did Eurocommunism mean simply the expedient adaptation of some European Communist parties to the liberal democratic rules of political life in the West? Did it signal a more fundamental shift away from their Leninist, as well as Soviet, origins? Were the three major parties commonly identified as Eurocommunist—the Italian, French and Spanish CP's—so diverse in political program and structure that no single rubric could justifiably be used to categorize them?