News / Europe

    Giulio Andreotti, 7-Times Italian Prime Minister, Dies

    Journalists gather outside the home of late Italian Senator Giulio Andreotti in Rome, May 6, 2013. Giulio Andreotti, Italy's former seven-time premier, has died at age 94.
    Journalists gather outside the home of late Italian Senator Giulio Andreotti in Rome, May 6, 2013. Giulio Andreotti, Italy's former seven-time premier, has died at age 94.
    Reuters
    Giulio Andreotti (C), Italian life senator, leaves after a meeting at the Vatican, Nov. 12, 2009.Giulio Andreotti (C), Italian life senator, leaves after a meeting at the Vatican, Nov. 12, 2009.
    x
    Giulio Andreotti (C), Italian life senator, leaves after a meeting at the Vatican, Nov. 12, 2009.
    Giulio Andreotti (C), Italian life senator, leaves after a meeting at the Vatican, Nov. 12, 2009.
    Giulio Andreotti, who served as  Italian prime minister seven times and whose name was synonymous with political survival and cunning in the land that gave the world Machiavelli, died on Monday at the age of 94.

    Andreotti, who for more than half a century was known as "Mr. Italy'' because of the many offices he held, died at home, family sources said. He had suffered from respiratory problems for years and had been in hospital several times.

    A leading member of the defunct Christian Democrat party which dominated Italian politics for almost fifty years after World War II, Andreotti was a lawmaker in every Italian parliament since 1945. He was made a senator for life in 1991.

    He was a complex figure who embodied the contradictions and intrigues of Italy's often shady politics.

    His enemies called him Beelzebub but he was deeply religious and took communion from popes. He was accused and acquitted both of being a member of the mafia and of ordering the murder of a muck-raking journalist.

    His supporters said he served his country like few others, helping transform Italy from a war-devastated agricultural backwater to a leading industrial power in the space of a generation.

    But many Italians believed he was the quintessential back-room wheeler-dealer, overseeing a political system riddled with cronyism and corruption.

    He held nearly every political post in Italy short of the presidency. His leadership of seven post-war governments was beaten only by his mentor, Alcide De Gaspari, who led eight.

    At the end of a sensational trial and two appeals, Andreotti was cleared in 2004 of charges that he had been a member of the mafia and had protected the mob in the corridors of power.

    However, Italy's highest court said he had ties until 1980 with mafia gangsters, which were covered by the statute of limitations.
            
    The most shocking allegation was that he once exchanged a kiss of respect with "boss of bosses'' Salvatore "Toto'' Riina, then Italy's most wanted man and now in jail.

    Andreotti denounced the accusations, based on testimony from mafia turncoats, and in the end, the courts believed him.

    He embodied Italy's so-called first republic, dominated by the Christian Democrats and a bewildering string of "revolving door'' governments.
            
    Their eternal political rivalry with the Communist Party, the largest in the West at that time, was sharpened by the Cold War and American fears of a communist takeover, which also fueled violent political conflict between right and left.

    The so-called years of lead in the 1970s culminated in the far-left Red Brigades kidnap and murder of Christian Democrat president Aldo Moro when Andreotti was prime minister in 1978.

    Bribery scandal

    But the party was swept away by a huge bribery scandal in 1992, together with much of the old order, although corruption is now said to be worse than ever and Italy is in a renewed period of political instability which has worsened a deep economic recession.

    A fervent Catholic who went to Mass every morning, Italians called him the "the eternal Giulio'' because of his political longevity and his mastery of intrigue.
            
    He was the subject of more than 20 parliamentary investigations on suspicion of under-the-counter dealings, ranging from corruption to links with shady financiers.

    On every occasion he was cleared and the investigations did not dent his power with voters in Rome, his constituency.

    "Apart from the Punic Wars, for which I was too young, I have been blamed for everything,'' he once said in one of his famous, cutting quips.
            `
    "Faith helps me a lot," Andreotti told Reuters during one of trials in 2002.

    "The justice that counts is that which will be carried out in the next world. I will not have a place of honor in the next world because I too have been a moderate sinner in my life, but I certainly have not committed sins of mafia or sins of murder.''
            
    A bespectacled, stooping figure with protruding ears, he was meat and drink for two generations of editorial cartoonists.
            
    He said his appetite for work was helped by insomnia but detractors said it stemmed from a lust for power.
            
    "Power wears out those who don't have it," he once said in a famous retort.

    As a life senator Andreotti attended parliament regularly until recently when his health failed.

    Andreotti, who was married with four children, got his first taste of power in May 1947 when he was named Cabinet secretary.

    His introduction to politics came when he went to the Vatican library and asked for an obscure book on the military power of the Vatican in the 19th century.

    "Have you nothing better to do?'' grumbled the librarian, who turned out to be De Gasperi, the future Christian Democrat leader and prime minister. Andreotti became De Gasperi's personal assistant and never looked back.

    He helped write Italy's new constitution after World War II and assumed his first cabinet post, as interior minister, in 1954.

    Before his health failed, he worked though most of the night, slept only a few hours and spent the rest of the time before dawn reading files and writing books.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora