17 August, 2010


The death has been announced of veteran Italian politician Francesco Cossiga, aged 82.

A Sardinian, Cossiga was made Minister of the Interior in 1976 by his mentor Aldo Moro. The mid 1970s were known as the 'anni di piombo', the years of lead, and Cossiga found himself fighting terrorists from both right and left. In 1978 Moro was kidnapped and murdered by the Red Brigades. Cossiga led the hunt for his killers but after the body was discovered in Rome declared himself 'politically dead'. He resigned.

Cossiga felt that Italy had to recover from the 'revolving door' administrations - it averaged one prime minister a year - and ironically became PM, in 1979, lasting 14 months.

Cossiga became the 8th President of Italy in 1985, holding the post for 7 years, unpopular for continually urging the political parties to reform. At one stage he sent a chunk of the Berlin Wall to the Communist party. He was know as 'il picconatore', the wrecker. Cossiga's party, the Christian Democrats were, however mired in corruption (the 'clean hands' investigation into this paved the way for Berlusconi) and he resigned early.

History's verdict will be mixed.

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