Early on Carillo was a committed Stalinist, but during the 1950s his views began to change. He became convinced that for strategic reasons the PCE had to participate in broader coalitions in order to overthrow the regime of Francisco Franco. Consequently, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin in 1956 helped secure Carrillo's leadership within the PCE. He assumed the top party spot in 1960.
As general secretary, Carrillo worked to distance the PCE from the Soviets and to forge closer alliances with other West European communist parties, notably that of Italy. He also supported calls for reform and democratization in Eastern Europe. His final break with Moscow came in 1968 with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.
With Franco's death in 1975 and the legalization of the PCE, Carrillo returned to Spain and was elected to the Congress of Deputies in 1977. That same year he articulated his philosophical and strategic views in his major work, Eurocomunismo y Estado (Eurocommunism and the State). According to Carrillo, Spain's transition to socialism was to be gradual, cooperative, and democratic. He refused to countenance calls for pluralism within the party itself, though, and opposition by the party faction known as the Renovators grew steadily. Carrillo was forced to step down as general secretary after the PCE's dismal performance in the 1982 elections, and in 1985 he was expelled from the party.
Eric W. Frith
Mujal-Leon, Eusebio. Communism and Political Change in Spain. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983.