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Giulio Andreotti

Giulio Andreotti (born 14 January 1919 in Rome) is an Italian politician of the centrist Christian Democratic party who served as Prime Minister of Italy from 1972 to 1973, from 1976 to 1979, and from 1989 to 1992. He also served as Minister of the Interior (1954 and 1978), Defense Minister (1959-1966 and 1974) and Foreign Minister (1983-1989), and he has been a Senator for life since 1991. He is also a journalist and author.

He is sometimes called Divo Giulio (from Latin Divus Iulius, "divine Julius", an epithet of Julius Caesar) because of his authority and importance in the history of Italian republican politics. The film Il Divo deals with Andreotti's ties to the Mafia and won the Prix du Jury at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

Political career

He studied law in Rome. During his formative political years, he was tightly connected to the Christian Democratic Leader Alcide De Gasperi. Andreotti has sat in Parliament without interruption since 1946, when he was elected to the Constituent Assembly. He was almost continuously re-elected to the Chamber of Deputies, until President Francesco Cossiga appointed him Senator for life in 1991.

He was the last Christian Democratic prime minister of Italy, serving from 1989 to 1992. His last term was marred by the revelation of the corruption which ultimately destroyed the party. On October 24, 1990, Giulio Andreotti acknowledged before the Chamber of Deputies the existence of Operazione Gladio, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization secret anti-communist structure. During the first stages of Tangentopoli he was left untouched but in April 1993 he was investigated for having mafia relations. In 1994 the party of which he was a predominant figure vanished from the political sphere.

Involvement with the Mafia

Andreotti was investigated for his role in the 1979 murder of Mino Pecorelli, a journalist who had published allegations that Andreotti had ties to the Mafia and to the kidnapping of Prime Minister of Italy Aldo Moro. A court acquitted him in 1999 after a case that lasted three years, but he was convicted on appeal in November 2002 and sentenced to twenty-four-years imprisonment. The eighty-three-year-old Andreotti was immediately released pending an appeal. On October 30, 2003, an appeals court over-turned the conviction and acquitted Andreotti of the original murder charge. That same year, the court of Palermo acquitted him of ties to the Mafia, but only on grounds of expiration of statutory terms. The court established that Andreotti had indeed had strong ties to the Mafia until 1980, and had used them to further his political career to such an extent as to be considered a component of the Mafia itself.

Recent activities

As of 2005, he regularly writes articles for Corriere della Sera. He also recorded a TV spot for 3 mobile company, which began airing in November 2005.

After the April 2006 general election, Andreotti, aged 87, accepted to be the candidate for the Presidency of the Senate for Silvio Berlusconi's House of Freedoms alliance that was still governing at the time. He was opposed by The Union's Franco Marini and lost to him 156 votes to 165.

On January 21 2008, he abstained from a vote in the Senate concerning Minister Massimo D'Alema's report on foreign politics. This choice, together with the abstentions of another life senator, Sergio Pininfarina, and of two communist senators, caused the government to lose the vote: as a consequence, Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned. On previous occasions, Andreotti had always supported Prodi's government with his vote. Given his close ties to the high ranks of the Catholic Church, the abstention of Andreotti was read by many as a sort of warning delivered by the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana to the government which at that time was pushing ahead a proposal for legal recognition of unmarried couples, including same-sex couples. (See Recognition of gay unions in Italy.)


  • In response to opposition politician Giancarlo Pajetta, who had claimed that "power wears out" (Il potere logora), Andreotti responded "Power wears out those who don't have it" (Il potere logora chi non ce l'ha). The sentence became proverbial and is widely recognized in Italy.
  • On Gladio: "Gladio had been necessary during the days of the Cold War but, in view of the collapse of the East Block, Italy would suggest to NATO that the organization was no longer necessary."
  • "You sin in thinking bad about people—but, often, you guess right" (A pensare male si fa peccato, ma quasi sempre ci si azzecca).
  • "Never over-dramatise things, everything can be fixed; keep a certain detachment from everything; the important things in life are very few"

Popular culture

  • In Italy, he is often nicknamed Belzebù (Beelzebub) by his adversaries.
  • The fictional character Don Licio Lucchesi from The Godfather Part III movie, a high-rank Italian politician closely bound to the mafia, was modeled on Andreotti. Ironically, before Lucchesi was killed, his killer whispered in to his ear "Power wears out those who don't have it".
  • A joke about Andreotti had him receiving a phone call from a fellow party member, who pleaded with him to attend judge Giovanni Falcone's funeral. His friend supposedly begged: "The State must give an answer to the Mafia, and you are one of the top authorities in it!". To which Andreotti answered puzzled, "Which one do you mean?"
  • The Italian satirical magazine Cuore referred to Andreotti as Giulio "Lavazza", where Lavazza is a leading Italian brand of coffee. This was a hint of an alleged involvement of Andreotti in the assassination of banker and felon Michele Sindona, killed in jail with a poisoned espresso.
  • He is the subject of Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo, winner of the Jury Prize at the 2008 Cannes film festival


External links

  • "Les procès Andreotti en Italie" ("The Andreotti trials in Italy") by Philippe Foro, published by University of Toulouse II, Groupe de recherche sur l'histoire immédiate (Study group on contemporary history)

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