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News from Italy, 1978

Government Affairs

Disagreements among the members of the six-party political alliance supporting Premier Giulio Andreotti's minority Christian Democrat government culminated in the withdrawal of the Communists from the alliance, which led to Andreotti's resignation on January 16. Almost eight weeks passed before Andreotti was able to succeed himself with a new minority administration. Although the Italian Communist Party was not included in the new Cabinet, it agreed to support the new administration after being granted a parliamentary majority.

During the early part of the year, President Giovanni Leone and his family were accused by the press of tax evasion, questionable real estate deals, and improper use of his office. He resigned on June 15, after the Communist Party gave its support to calls for his removal.

Alexxandro Pertini, an 82-year-old wartime resistance leader and former Socialist speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, was elected to succeed Leone as President after a 10-day series of ballots by the electoral college and a joint session of both houses of Parliament. He was inaugurated on July 9.

Alessandro Pertini being greeted by a well-wisher while on his way to the July 8 session of the Chamber of Deputies that elected him President.
Alessandro Pertini

Aldo Moro

On March 16, former Premier Aldo Moro was kidnapped in Rome as he was being driven to a special session of Parliament. All five of his bodyguards were killed when 12 terrorists fired an estimated 70 rounds of ammunition from Czechoslovak and Soviet automatic weapons. Italy's most notorious left-wing terrorist group, the Red Brigades, claimed responsibility for the killings and abduction, and said that Moro would be killed within 48 hours unless the government released 15 of their members who were being tried with other terrorists for crimes committed in Turin.

one of Moro's slain bodyguards
Aldo Moro kidnapping

Despite pleas from Moro's immediate family and from Moro himself, who wrote some 20 letters while he was held captive, the government refused to release the imprisoned Red Brigades members. On May 9, Moro's bullet-riddled body was found in the luggage compartment of a car parked in the center of Rome; an anonymous caller told police where the body could be found.

the body of Aldo Moro
the body of Aldo Moro

When Moro was buried on May 10, his family excluded official government representatives. On May 13 the government held a "state funeral without the body," ignoring the family's request that there be no public mourning.

Although a small group of alleged Red Brigades members were subsequently arrested and found guilty of illegal possession of firearms, Moro's killers remained at large as of the end of the year.

Red Brigades Trial

On June 23, after a 15-week trial in Turin and jury deliberations that lasted more than 100 hours, 29 members of the Red Brigades were convicted, some in absentia, 16 were acquitted, and charges against one were dropped. Two founders of the organization, Renato Curcio and Pietro Bassi, were each sentenced to 15 years for membership in a terrorist group and for arson, kidnapping, and robbery.

Surrounded by iron bars and armed guards, members of the Red Brigades stand trial in Turin in March.
Red Brigades on trial in Turin

Other News

On May 18 a bill allowing free abortion on demand for women over the age of 18 was passed by a narrow majority in the Senate. It became law in June.

On November 8 Fedele Calvosa, Public Prosecutor of Frosinone, was shot dead by terrorists along with his driver and bodyguard.

In the Year 1978
Giulio Andreotti

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Italy >> Italian Republic, 1948 - Present

This page was last updated on December 25, 2017.