Soviet policy toward the Italian Communist Party (PCI) from 1943 to 1948 exemplified Josif Stalin's complicated relationship with the West European Communist parties and Western Europe in general. For a considerable while, Stalin insisted that the PCI follow a policy of moderation. Palmiro Togliatti, the leader of the PCI, heeded Stalin's orders and tried to ensure that the Italian Communists pursued a policy of national unity and avoided conflicts that might lead to civil war in Italy. But this moderate approach collapsed after the Soviet Union rejected the Marshall Plan in 1947 and thereby forced the West European Communist parties into extra-parliamentary opposition. Not until after the poor showing of the PCI in the 1948 Italian elections was the party able to regain a viable role. Stalin's conflicting advice to the PCI was indicative of his tenuous grasp of the situation in Western Europe.