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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 07 maggio 2013 alle ore 05:57.
L'ultima modifica è del 07 maggio 2013 alle ore 05:28.


Future historians will place Giulio Andreotti in the national narrative of the postwar period. They will be able to establish how long he was able to represent the republican state, deserving therefore the title of statesman, and how much instead he gave in to the vices of the worst kind of politics, all the way up to representing some kind of “connecting link” between ambiguous worlds, almost on—and maybe even beyond—the borders of legality.

This latter one is the “judicial” (let’s say) interpretation of Andreotti’s role in the history of the Republic. It is a vision that has not been confirmed by the investigations but that has not been denied either. Everything remained in midair thanks to the statute of limitation on the crimes he was accused of, as is often the case in our country. So the character “Andreotti”—his political parable and his public role appear as a comedy in Pirandello’s Theater, an endless “It is so (if you think so)” in which everyone uses the elements he or she prefers.

Some pick Andreotti the Statesman; some Andreotti the Careful Christian Democrat Politician; others Andreotti the Fervent Catholic in very good relations with several pontiffs and, most of all, with the power structure of the Vatican; others, still, Andreotti the Cynical and Ruthless Friend of Repulsive Characters, but able to vindicate his darkest side with constant recourse to sarcasm and self-irony.

No one like him crossed Italian history in this changing, enigmatic, ultimately elusive form. No one else is so indefinable without using the categories of political controversy. But now that the long existence of the “Senator for Life” has ended, controversy must leave room for analyses that are more calm and more appropriate to grasp the mutant and often indecipherable reality of a man who was 7 times a prime minister, 22 times a minister, but whose place in history remains to be established.

When one thinks of the great statesmen who marked the history of the Italian Christian Democratic Party (DC), we must admit Andreotti’s name does not come to mind, at least not until yesterday, before the great and inevitable funerary rhetoric kicked in. One thinks of Alcide De Gasperi, first of all, for whom a young Andreotti in the role of Roman member of Parliament was the undersecretary during those unforgettable years immediately following World War II. But even then, he had a unique trait, a pragmatism for power that induced journalist Indro Montanelli to write that when De Gasperi and Andreotti, both faithful Christian, were in church together, the former talked to God and the latter talked to the deacon.

Then, later, as far as the Christian Democratic statesmen category goes, one thinks of Aldo Moro and Amintore Fanfani. Both have been the target of ferocious controversies in their time, yet they have been credited with visionary and original political thought. Their vision was a strategic one, as they say, that embraced not only the destiny of the DC but also, and most of all, Italy’s perspective and the placement of the country in the European context. And it is exactly this long-term vision that Andreotti seemed to lack. What are remembered of him are not far reaching thoughts but rather zesty sound bites, often funny but not always appropriate.

When the Berlin Wall was about to fall and the western chancellorships were already confronting the reality of German reunification, Andreotti said he was pleased for the existence of two Germanys borrowing, without quoting the source, a sentence from Francois Mauriac: “I love Germany so much that I like to see two of them.” It was a very sharp and witty motto, but it had been pronounced in a different era, therefore worn out. What made political sense in the early 1950s no longer did in 1989. Conversely, Andreotti was the author of endless plays on words and paradoxes that made his aphorisms successful. The most famous one was “Power wears out ... those who do not have it.”

How could we possibly imagine that such a salacious and minimalist man, expressing such a corrosive and detached idea of power, was able to weave the strands of which he was regularly accused? The sulfuric and diabolic aura surrounding Andreotti was too fictional to be true, yet it was fueled for years beginning much earlier than the appearance on the scene of the Palermo judges and their great “thriller” of his kiss of Mafia super boss Toto Riina.

And we do not stir far from the truth when we imagine that Andreotti himself had in fact encouraged somewhat the sinister reputation that surrounded him and that he did it for the sake of the show, maybe for a distorted personal vanity. After all, we are talking about a man who enjoyed the fame of holding immense power in the administration of the state but who, at the end of the day, never counted that much within the Christian Democracy ranks—at least beyond the borders of his current, based on the meticulous care of his precinct in the Ciociaria region and on a capillary network of friends and “friends’ friends.”

Today everyone remembers him as the Last Christian Democrat and the extreme survivor of an ended historical phase. This is certainly true but a little generic as well. If Andreotti was never DC secretary, there must have been a reason: on one hand, the sense that he was always a little “sideways” vis-à-vis the party’s internal balance and, on the other, his predilection in public life was oriented to running the executive government rather than the political arabesques necessary to lead not only one current but also a complex party like the DC.

When, a few years ago, the private archive of the Senator for Life was donated to the Sturzo Foundation, yours truly took part in the short ceremony. It was inevitable to think of the elusive secret that those papers hid—on the bases of political legends form the so-called First Republic (1946–94). So far historiography has not confirmed those novel-like scenarios. Maybe in the future it will.

What is certain is that Andreotti has been the incarnation of a long, almost eternal phase of Italian political life, with his qualities and his limits, emblematic like no other. He was a Catholic devoted to the Vatican to the point that many saw him as determined to serve the interests of the Holy See before those of the Republic. But maybe this, too, was nasty gossip.

Without a doubt Andreotti was the man of public spending in a phase when debt and spread were not issues or at least were not deemed as problematic ones. They were, in fact, different times and he was not the only one. But Andreotti was also the man who imposed the Maastricht treaty and in foreign policy always followed the European path. In this he was always faithful to the teachings of his mentor, De Gasperi.

And his prestige, or even his popularity, among European governments was great and long lasting. Much less at the White House, in particular after the Achille Lauro incident (when terrorists attacked an Italian cruise ship, killing American citizens) in the mid-’80s. Many identified that particular episode as the beginning of the end of the First Republic, which a few years later collapsed around two symbolic names: Andreotti and Craxi, both protagonists of the misadventure in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

He was obstinately accused of Mafia connections, but it is proven that he never softened—on the contrary, he hardened—the jail time and conditions for convicted Mafiosi. In any case he was dragged in the dust when the DC was too weak to defend itself, as Moro did at the time of the Lockheed scandal.

In this, Andreotti was really the emblem of the declining Christian Democratic power and of the end of an era. He was the man who had to be dragged to court in order to prove the judicial equation, according to which Italy’s postwar history had been a criminal one and not a battle—even if with some darker areas—to affirm economic development and democratic rule.

Over time, the man of the most conservative DC turned into a man of dialogue and dialectic confrontation with the old enemies, with a reduced and very Andreotti-like version of Moro’s “parallel convergences.” In the wake of these opening he tried to obtain the president’s post, but as is well known, he did not succeed. (He only managed to prevent others from being elected; Arnaldo Forlani knows it very well). In his heart he was always convinced that the United States played a part in that failure.

It remains to be said that his anecdotal taste, for which he was extremely popular in public opinion, which often reflects the views of simple people, accompanied him throughout his entire life and allowed him to fix characters and situations that he then collected in numerous rather successful books. He was also the author of more ambitious historical essays, such the one about the murder of Pellegrino Rossi, the liberal and reformer minister under Pius IX killed on the eve of the Roman Republic.

Even in this case it is possible to grasp the unpredictable and contradictory nature of Andreotti—perhaps more a man of power rather than of state, yet certainly an exceptional incarnation of politics in an era when the secular power of the church had officially ended but still lingered in an impalpable way between the opposite shores of the Tiber River.

But after all, Andreotti was also a journalist with a sharp, stinging pen. It was the role he loved the most and for which, maybe, he would have most liked to be remembered.