Andreotti, Giulio

(1919– )
   The personification of the Italian postwar political elite, Giulio Andreotti must be regarded as both a statesman of international reputation and a deeply ambiguous political figure. Born in Rome, Andreotti became a force in the nascent Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC) while president of Federazione Universitaria Cattolici Italiana/Catholic University Graduates’Movement of Italy (FUCI) during the war. Aprotege of both Alcide De Gasperi (whose private secretary he became) and Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI. Andreotti founded the DC’s daily newspaper, Il Popolo (The People), and was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946. His first major ministerial job came in 1954, when he was appointed minister of the interior by Amintore Fanfani. For the next 40 years, he was an everpresent figure in Italy’s shifting cabinets, usually holding posts of great sensitivity, such as defense, the interior ministry, or foreign af fairs. By the late 1960s, Andreotti was the leader of the right-wing faction within the DC and the chief point of reference for both the Americans and the Vatican.
   Andreotti first became prime minister in 1972, at the head of a short-lived center-right coalition with the Partito Liberale Italiano/ Italian Liberal party (PLI). Unlike other key figures in the Italian defense establishment, he survived a bribery scandal in the mid-1970s when the American aerospace company Lockheed was accused of paying off leading DC politicians, and, in 1976, he was the logical choice as prime minister when the DC and the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI) chose to form a government of national solidarity after the inconclusive elections of that year. Like his mentor De Gasperi, Andreotti offered the United States a guarantee that the growing communist presence in Italian political life would not deflect Italy’s pro-Western stance in foreign affairs. The government of national solidarity lasted until 1978, by which time Andreotti had skillfully succeeded in implicating the PCI in most of his government’s most unpopular decisions. The kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro in March–May 1978 caused immense public criticism of Andreotti, who was accused of doing too little to save Moro’s life; wildly, it was alleged that Andreotti and his American sponsors were happy to see the back of Moro, who was the architect of the policy of greater cooperation between the DC and the PCI.
   Scandal continued to dog Andreotti in the early 1980s, when he was accused of being the mastermind behind the subversive Propaganda Due Masonic lodge and of being the political protector of a shady financier, Michele Sindona, who died in prison in 1987 after drinking poisoned coffee. Andreotti escaped unscathed from both scandals and served as foreign minister throughout most of the 1980s. In July 1989, after an internal power struggle within the DC, Andreotti became prime minister once more, at the head of an administration in which the DC effectively shared power with the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI) of Bettino Craxi. He remained as prime minister until June 1992. In all, Andreotti headed seven governments. The famously witty Andreotti once said, in near-defiance of the dictum that “all power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely,” that “power wears out those who do not have it.” Many Italians believe that Andreotti has been corrupted by his half-century hold on the highest positions of the Italian state. In the spring of 1993, he was accused of being the Sicilian mafia’s political godfather by several former criminals who had decided to cooperate with the authorities. One pentito(state’s witness) even claimed that he saw Andreotti exchange a kiss of greeting with Toto Riina, the mass murderer who emerged as boss of bosses in the mafia in the early 1980s. Even more sensationally, Andreotti was accused of having ordered the homicide of a well-known Roman journalist, Rino Pecorelli, in 1979, in order to obstruct the publication of a major investigation into his financial dealings.
   Andreotti, after a lengthy investigation and trial, was eventually found guilty by a popular jury of the murder of Pecorelli in 2002 and sentenced to 24 years’ imprisonment, but the conviction was overturned upon appeal in October 2003. He was found not guilty of colluding with the mafia in the 1980s, although with the caveat that the court found that he had used the mafia’s influence to strengthen his political position in Sicily prior to the emergence of the bloodier form of criminality represented by Riina. Conveniently, the statute of limitations had run out for these offences. Despite this somewhat equivocal verdict, Andreotti has retained his place as a life senator, is an urbane presence on TV talk shows, and in 2006 was even proposed as a possible president of the Senate.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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