Top 6 Political Scandals Scandals in Italy

Italy is no stranger to political scandals with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi himself being criticized in the international media for a number of wrong doings, including the control and manipulation of the media for political propaganda.

He has also been accused of bribing members of judiciary to tilt the decision in his favor on many occasions. His links to the mafia and disproportionate personal wealth have all been investigated but Berlusconi has been acquitted on all counts.

If all this wasn’t enough, he has also been accused of using prostitutes to lure and trap rival party members .While Berlusconi’s exploits could be the inspiration for a book, there are quite a few other scandals that have marred Italy’s political system. Here are the top few.

Navigation of the Top 6 Political Scandals in Italy

1. Gladio
2. SISMI-Telecom Scandal
3. Cinziagate
4. Propaganda Due
5. Tangentopoli or Bribesville
6. Berlusconi Sex Scandal

More Political Scandals

1. Gladio – 1990

This political scandal revolved around the discovery of Italy’s anti-communist network ‘Gladio’.
Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti admitted to the existence of Gladio, a NATO stay-behind anti-communist organization in 1990. Investigations on bombings committed and a list of secret Gladio members in Italy was released.

Among the bombings being investigated were the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, 1972 Pateano massacre and 1980 Bologna massacre. While such ‘stay behind’ anti-communist networks existed in all NATO countries, Italy’s Gladio was the first to be formally recognized.

After the enquiry launched by Andreotti, former Prime Minister Francesco Cossiga claimed that he was happy and proud of his contribution in setting up Gladio as junior Defense Minister of the Christian Democratic Party. His remarks were criticized and calls for his impeachment were made. He evaded impeachment by stepping down three months before the expiry of his term.

2. SISMI-Telecom Scandal – 1996-2006

SISMI-Telecom, discovered in 2006, is a surveillance scandal that began in 1996 in which the phones of more than 5000 citizens were illegally tapped. These included magistrates, politicians, football players and referees. The masterminds behind the tapping were Giulio Tavaroli, former Chief of Security at the Italian Telecom Company and Marco Mancini, a former top official of the SISMI military intelligence agency. They had devised a way of wiretapping without leaving a trace.

The objective behind these activities was money – between themselves, Mancini and Tavaroli shared millions of Euros. Those involved were arrested in September 2006 on charges of spying, corruption and illegal tapping to get professional secrets.

The investigations into the case became complicated after the death of the investigating policeman and the alleged suicide of a leading surveillance expert involved in the enquiry. The accused were subsequently given suspended prison sentences.

3. Cinziagate – 2010

Cinziagate is a political scandal involving the Mayor of Bologna, Flavio Delbono who was forced to resign after his assistant Cinzia Cracchi alleged that he had abused his office by embezzling money and spending public money on her. Subsequent investigations were focused on his purchase of expensive property near Malta.

4. P2/Propaganda Due – 1976-1981

Propaganda Due (P2), was a secret Masonic lodge, which hosted elite members from Italy’s media, military business and political arenas, including Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Accused of being a ‘shadow government’, P2 was charged with a number of crimes and wrong doings including the country wide bribery scandal Tangentopoli, the fall of the Banco Ambrosiano, the murders of Mino Pecorelli, a journalist and Roberto Calvi, a banker.

After the discovery of P2, police ransacked the villa of its head, Licio Gelli and discovered a document named the “Plan for Democratic Rebirth”, which laid out agenda for media consolidation, modifying the Italian Constitution and suppressing of trade unions.

Further enquiry into the activities of the organization revealed that it had connections with international underworld criminal organizations. Post the scandal, a new law in Italy prohibiting secret lodges was formulated.

5. Tangentopoli or Bribesville – 1992

Tangentopoli began in 1992 when a series of investigations were launched against several murky political dealings. It resulted in the collapse of the ‘First Republic’ after the Christian Democrat party, which had been in power since the end of World War II, faded away. Many politicians resorted to committing suicide when their wrong doings were made public.

It all began when Judge Antonio Di Pietro was arrested on corruption charges and the scandal extended to many political officials, including those who were sitting in the opposition. Sergio Moroni, a politician with socialist inclinations committed suicide after public humiliation over his arrest and blamed the way all parties’ financing system worked.

The Italian government tried to create a new law for financing of parties, introducing some civil charges and removing penal charges in 1993. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, the then President declined to sign the new law. A USD 250 million scandal involving Eni, a government regulated national energy society was reported the very next week. The President of the agency committed suicide in jail. After a string of subsequent arrests across political parties, the Lega Nord independent party gained a lot of political mileage.

6. Berlusconi Sex Scandal – 2008

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is notorious for his fondness of young and beautiful girls. In late 2008, audio recordings of conversations between a prostitute, her pimp and Berlusconi were published by L’Espresso, a weekly magazine. The conversations proved that Berlusconi had paid the model thousand Euros for one night and had promised to buy her gifts.

The 27-year old woman involved has five children from two marriages. After this scandal and a series of other flirtations with younger women were exposed, and Berlsuconi’s wife Veronica Lario filed for divorce after 19 years of marriage.

What is so ironic about Berlusconi scandals is that the Italian people voted Silvio Berlusconi to the post of Prime Minister three times. Berlusconi owns and controls 90% of the Italian television broadcasting, giving him the power to limit the freedom of expression. He has been mired in many controversies over the years.

The scandals concerning him are only reported in left-leaning newspapers and magazines, which are very few in number. When the Prime Minister himself is such a controversial figure, it isn’t difficult to imagine how corrupt and shady his government will be!