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Andreotti, Giulio (Italy)

Reference work entry

Introduction

Giulio Andreotti presided over seven governments in four terms as prime minister between 1972 and 1992. His political career lasted almost five decades and he occupied several of the most important posts in the country. His reputation as a skilful statesman who was indispensable to the country suffered when in the early 1990s he was accused of dealing with the Mafia.

Early Life

The youngest of three children, Andreotti was born in Rome on 14 Jan. 1919. He read law at the University of Rome where he was president of the Catholic student’s federation. His political career began in 1942 when he met Alcide De Gaspari and heard of his plans to set up a Christian Democrat party after the fall of the fascist regime. Andreotti became a willing protégé. When De Gaspari was made prime minister a few years later Andreotti was appointed under-secretary to his cabinet. The following year he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies as a Christian Democrat and retained a seat there after every election from 1948–87. He joined the cabinet as minister of the interior and went on to hold dozens of ministerial appointments. His success was attributed to his skill as a political operator.

Career Peak

Andreotti was prime minister for the first time in 1972, when his government lasted 4 months. He soon regained power and formed a second cabinet that remained in office until June 1973. In 1976 he again became prime minister, on this occasion as head of a Christian Democrat government that had won its majority with the tacit endorsement of the Communist Party. Having instigated this uneasy alliance, he succeeded in stemming an economic crisis that threatened to engulf the country.

From 1983–89 he was minister of foreign affairs under a Socialist administration led by Bettino Craxi. He was then restored to the premiership for the last time. His tenure ended in April 1992 after disappointing election results attributed to a number of high profile corruption scandals, several of which involved Andreotti.

Later Life

In 1993 the Senate voted to remove Andreotti’s immunity from prosecution in order for him to stand trial on charges of complicity with the Mafia, including in the murder of a journalist in 1979. He denied the charges but was indicted in 1995. He was acquitted in 1999, but 3 years later the verdict was overturned and Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment. Andreotti appealed against the decision. In July 2003 The Palermo Appeals Court acquitted him of separate charges concerning relations with the Mafia. He died on 6 May 2013 at the age of 94.

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