Over two hundred fifty people are killed in Italy, after the Val di Stava dams collapse. Ten people, including personnel from the construction company, the site management authority and the local municipality, will be convicted of multiple manslaughters in 1992.
The trial begins into the largest criminal case in Italian history. There are 467 Mafia defendants and the government has sent three thousand extra police to Sicily. The trial is expected to last more than a year, and cost in excess of $100 million, but it is believed to be worth every cent if it roots the Mafia out of their historic base in western Sicily.
Italian police capture Il Papa Michele Greco, pope of the Sicilian mafia, in a farmhouse raid in Caccamo. Greco has already been sentenced in absentia for his role in the 1983 murder of a magistrate. Craxi is winning a reputation as a centrist who can “get it done”.
Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi confirms the collapse of his three-year government, the longest ruling coalition in Italian political history, and travels to Quirinal Palace to report. As the Christian Democrats have insufficient support to form their own government, President Francesco Cossiga dissolves the Italian Parliament and calls elections.
The Italian press begin to reveal details of Gladio, the secret NATO plan to stage internal terrorist attacks against Italy in order to prevent any social democratic or socialist party – and particularly any communist party – from controlling the Italian executive branch. Prime Minister Bettino Craxi states that the allegations are subject to ongoing investigations and is unable to commit to whether charges will be laid against Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti, President Francesco Cossiga or any person.
Senator Giovanni Pellegrino is appointed as president of the Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism in Italy. His long investigation will eventually lead to charges against two of Italy’s most senior politicians.
A general election is held in Italy, in the fog of recent allegations about the Gladio organisation. It is unclear how a government will be formed as both major parties, the Communists and the Christian Democrats, have lost seats, while the Socialist Party has achieved a large gain of twenty-six seats. President Francesco Cossiga agrees to allow a coalition government between Socialists and Communists, provided Craxi is retained as Prime Minister. For the first time, the Communists form part of the Italian government.
The autonomous government of Sicily is sacked by Prime Minister Benetto Craxi after he argues that, under Article 120 of the Constitution, Sicily’s government has failed to meet basic guarantees. The Prime Minister also states that hundreds of the carabinieri, the military police, have taken control of the island and will undertake “whatever actions are necessary” to ensure that the power of the Mafia is broken.
Italian Prime Minister Benetto Craxi announces the sale of the government-owned Alfa Romeo to Fiat, rather than take the $2.5 billion deal offered by Ford Corporation, thereby ensuring it remains in Italian hands.
Former Prime Minister of Italy, Giulio Andreotti, is confirmed to be under investigation for links to the Mafia and “other treasonous organisations”. Public prosecutors state that they expect the former Prime Minister to be charged in the longer term, but that there is ongoing exploration into Andreotti’s business and political links. There is also rumour that he will be charged with conspiracy in the murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro.
The very popular Italian Prime Minister, Benedetto Craxi, admits that the Quirinale is under criminal investigation and that President Francesco Cossigi is the primary target. The Communists immediately call for the beginning of impeachment proceedings, while the President threatens to dissolve the Parliament if they proceed down such a course.
Italian Premier Benedetto Craxi states that the Vatican City stands in violation of Article 22 of the Lateran Treaty for its refusal to hand over an archbishop and two others in relation to the ongoing investigation into corruption and two unsolved murders. In response, President Francesco Cossiga states that Craxi may “lose the confidence of the Italian people”.
Italian Prime Minister Benetto Craxi resigns his commission, thereby threatening to force another election after only a few months. Republican Party (PRI) leader, Giovanni Spadolini, is offered the chance to build a coalition but, over the next few days, will prove unable to do so.
Italian Premier Benedetto Craxi is restored to office, once again in alliance with the Communists. The longest-serving Italian leader since World War II states that he will continue his fight to eliminate the entrenched corruption within the Italian state and announces his intention to seek a renewed mandate for his government coalition. There is a strong sense of confidence that he will do “the impossible” and win another four years.
Italian Premier Bettino Craxi states that he is willing to continue the coalition with the Communist Party and predicts that a four-party coalition will produce a majority leftist government for Italy. The questions are whether Craxi will remain Premier, whether he will be forced to hand over to Communist leader Alessandro Natta, and whether President Francesco Cossiga will allow a Communist Premier in Italy.
Italy goes to the polls again, with the largest individual share of votes going to the Christian Democratic Party. However, Prime Minister Benetto Craxi states that the Socialist/Communist coalition will take 299 seats, only sixteen short of a majority, and that concessions can be made to the Greens List in order to obtain a workable majority. As an interesting aside, the small Radical Party has new legislator in the form of Ilona Staller, a former porn star under the name Cicciolona, who revealed more than her policies at party rallies.
Italian Prime Minister Benedetto Craxi announces his newest agenda: an attack on the Camorra crime syndicate of the Campania region, and particularly in Napoli. He reveals that he is cooperating with pentitos, members of the Camorra turned state witnesses, who have revealed a sudden rise in activity and an increased intrusion into legitimate business. As a first step, he announces the arrest of Antonio Gava, a Christian Democrat parliamentarian and former minister. The press speculate that the Communist dominated government is using the apparatus of the state to destroy their political opposition.
In response to tight economic measures to fight inflation and cuts to the lire to fight export falls, Italy’s trade unions call a general strike to protest the government of Premier Benetto Craxi. For the first time in three years, Craxi states that cuts to the budget are vital as “the party in the world economy is over” and that, despite increases in productivity, there are needs for strong measures are necessary to end “the bureaucratic sadism and institutionalised corruption” in Italy.
In his Christmas message, Pope John Paul II tells Italians that the incarceration of over three hundred Mafia this week is a “landmark for peace for Italy and its children”. The day is, however, marked by the death of Mafia associate, Antonino Ciulla, only a few days after his exoneration of drug trafficking.
Former Prime Minister of Italy, Giulio Andreotti, is today taken into custody and charged over his links to known members of the Mafia, a journalist death in 1979 and the kidnapping of his predecessor, Prime Minister Aldo Moro. While Andreotti will eventually be exonerated of the murder charges in 1992, he is found guilty of being a Mafia member and sentenced to thirty years imprisonment.
Italian Premier Benedetto Craxi announces that the lira, his national currency, will be redenominated. After years of battling inflation, 1000 lira will become 1 new lira in a measure which will limit criminal activity and increase confidence in the Italian economy.
Members of the Japanese Red Army are detained in Naples in conjunction with a plot to undertake simultaneous bombings in the US and Italy against US military targets. The break is credited to an alert New Jersey trooper, who finds bomb components and detailed documentation after noting a suspicious-acting individual.
The remains of Pope Celestine V are stolen from the church of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila. Now known as St Celestine V, he was pontiff for five months during 1294 before abdicating the position and being canonised in 1313. The body is found two days later.
Prosecutor Domenico Sica, the investigator of the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II and the murder of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, is appointed to oversee the preparation of charges against Italian President Francesco Cossiga. Cossiga threatens to sack Premier Benedetto Craxi, now into his sixth year, and his “communist co-conspirators”, led by Deputy Premier Armando Cossutta. However, with his Christian Democrats running eight points behind the government in polls, it is an idle threat.
The Italian Premier, Bettino Craxi, abolishes the franchi tiratori, the secret ballot given to members of his Parliament, limiting the privilege to “matters of conscience” and election of a President. There is speculation that he instigated the dramatic move to preserve his five-year-old government after rumours that the Communist Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Armando Cossutto is plotting to seize the top job. Cossutto took the Communist leadership only two months ago after Alessandro Natta was forced to retire due to ill health.
Venetian authorities reveal the preliminary designs for the seagates to be constructed between the lagoon and the Adriatic Sea, approved by Communist insistence on the Higher Council of Public Works that the plan be pushed through. The environmental impact study is expected to be completed in early 1990.
Proceedings begin to impeach President Francesco Cossiga of Italy, led by Communist Party leader Armando Cossutto, over Cossiga’s involvement in a secret CIA-backed terrorist organisation, Gladio. Media speculation centres on whether he will step down or sack the Parliament in order to force a general election on the issue.
Italian President Francesco Cossiga resigns rather than becoming the first head of the republic to be impeached. Following a number of ballots, the parliament agrees to elect former Prime Minister Giovanni Spadolini as the new President, making him the first not to be a Christian Democrat.
AT&T announces it has won the $27 billion contract to reconstruct the antiquated Italian telephone network from scratch over five years after agreeing to allow Italian company, Italtel, to provide the basic equipment. Italian Prime Minister Benetto Craxi states it will modernise the economy.
Italian authorities make a decision to close the Leaning Tower of Pisa due to threat of collapse from its weakened foundations. The famous monument will not reopen until 2000.
Despite classification as the larger producer of Italian wine, the Soave region near Verona loses its quality assurance registration. A number of wineries tip over into bankruptcy from the loss of registration, leading to a rise in unemployment in Verona.