Cossiga, Francesco

(1928– )
   Born in the Sardinian province of Sassari, Francesco Cossiga was active in the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC) from his early teens, and, in 1958, he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. Cossiga’s political career has been characterized by controversy. In 1964, he was the go-between during secret negotiations between his political patron, President Antonio Segni, and General Giovanni De Lorenzo, then head of the Italian Secret Service, who was later accused of plotting to overthrow the state. As a junior minister for defense in the late 1960s, Cossiga participated in the establishment of the so-called Gladio networks: secret groups of “patriots” who were supposed to organize and lead resistance to an eventual Soviet invasion of Italy. Many believe, however, that the real purpose of Gladio was to subvert a legitimately elected communist government in Italy; it has also been alleged that there was a link between Gladio and right-wing terrorism.
   Cossiga was given the important task of combating the Brigate Rosse/Red Brigades (BR) in 1976. His tenure as minister of the interior was generally successful until the March 1978 kidnapping and May 1978 murder of Aldo Moro. Police incompetence during the Moro affair inspired conspiracy theorists to suggest that Italy’s rightwing establishment and its allies in the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were content to see Moro, the architect of the compromesso storico with the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI), perish at the hands of his terrorist captors. In Cossiga’s defense, it should be stressed that the BR’s price for Moro’s life—political recognition—was regarded as an unacceptable demand by all the principal political parties except the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI). Cossiga resigned after Moro’s death. In September 1979, President Alessandro Pertini asked him to form a government, which lasted for a year. In 1983, Cossiga moved from the Chamber of Deputies to the Senate and was immediately elected to the presidency of the upper chamber. In 1985, he became the eighth man to be elected president of the Republic. Just 57 years old, he was (and still is) the youngest man ever to hold the office.
   In the first five years of his presidency, Cossiga behaved with grave dignity; his deft handling of the 1987 government crisis was praised even by his political opponents. After the public disclosure of the Gladio networks in the fall of 1990, however, Cossiga took a more outspoken line: His esternazioni (“outbursts”) became famous. He also provoked a constitutional crisis by availing himself of his formal power to chair the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura/ High Council of the Magistracy (CSM), the governing body of the Italian legal profession, and then using that position to block judicial investigations into Gladio. Cossiga’s antics were at least partly motivated by impatience at the inadequacies of the political system. He said in July 1991 that there was an “authentic and remarkable contradiction” between Italy’s extraordinary postwar economic success and the miserable failure of its political institutions and parties. Disgusted by the behavior of the government parties, Cossiga resigned on 25 April 1992, with three months of his mandate still to run. Since 1992, Cossiga has continued to play a maverick political role. In October 1998, when Romano Prodi was defeated in a confidence vote, Cossiga saved the Olive Tree government from dissolution when several of his allies crossed the floor of Parliament to form a new majority.
   See also Solo Plan.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cossiga, Francesco — ► (n. 1928) Político italiano. Afiliado a la Democracia Cristiana en 1945, fue ministro de Administración Pública (1974 76) y de Interior (1976 78), y primer ministro (1979 80). Posteriormente, desempeñó los cargos de presidente del Senado (1983… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Francesco Cossiga — Francesco Maurizio Cossiga[1] (* 26. Juli 1928 in Sassari, Sardinien; † 17. August 2010 in Rom[2]) war ein italienischer Politiker der ehemaligen Democrazia Cristiana. Er war sowo …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cossiga — Francesco Maurizio Cossiga[1] (* 26. Juli 1928 in Sassari, Sardinien) ist ein italienischer Politiker der ehemaligen Democrazia Cristiana. Gegenwärtig ist Cossiga parteilos und Mitglied der Autonomiefraktion im Senat. Francesco Cossiga …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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