BENEDETTO "BETTINO" CRAXI (Italian: ; 24 February 1934 – 19 January 2000) was an Italian politician, leader of the Italian Socialist Party from 1976 to 1993 and Prime Minister of Italy from 1983 to 1987. He was the first member of the PSI to hold the office and the third Prime Minister from a socialist party. He led the third-longest government in the Italian Republic , and he is considered one of the most powerful and prominent politicians of the so-called First Republic .
Craxi was involved in investigations conducted by
Mani Pulite judges
Craxi was often nicknamed by his detractors "il Cinghialone" ("The Big Boar"), due to his physical size. This name was given him by the Christian Democratic leader and long-time Craxi's ally and opponent at the same time, Giulio Andreotti .
* 1 Early life * 2 Early political career * 3 Secretary of the Socialist Party
* 4.1 Domestic policy
* 4.1.1 Concordate with the Vatican
* 4.2 Foreign policy
* 4.2.1 The Sigonella crisis * 4.2.2 US attack on Libya
* 4.3 Resignation
* 5 After the premiership
* 6 Involvement in "Tangentopoli" scandal
* 6.1 Facing the judges * 6.2 Critics to his lifestyle * 6.3 Judgements of European Court of human rights
* 7 Decline and dissolution of the Socialist Party
* 8 Craxism
* 8.1 Origins and features * 8.2 Critics
* 9 Death and legacy
* 9.1 Escape to
* 10 References * 11 Further reading * 12 External links
Second World War
After the war Vittorio Craxi assumed the role of vice-prefect in
EARLY POLITICAL CAREER
Craxi was precocious and ascended to many levels of public office at
an early age. Meanwhile attended the faculty of Law in University of
In this period he held the first public speaking, organizing conferences, debates, film screenings, and in 1956 became part of the PSI Provincial Committee in Milan, and leader of the Socialist Youth Federation.
In 1956, following the
Soviet invasion of Hungary , Craxi with a
group of loyalists committed himself to the detachment of the
Socialist Party by the pro-
In November 1956 he was elected town councilor in Sant\'Angelo Lodigiano (birthplace of his mother) from, and in 1957 he was elected to the Central Committee of the PSI representing the autonomist current Pietro Nenni .
In 1958 the party sent him to
Sesto San Giovanni as a responsible of
the organization; in November 1960 he was elected city councilor in
In 1961 he was excluded from the Central Committee of the Socialist
Party by the new Secretary
Francesco De Martino . In 1963 he was
appointed leader of the
In 1966, with the formation of the Unified Socialist Party , a political alliance between the Socialist Party and the Social Democratic Party , Craxi became provincial secretary of the PSU in Milan, along with by the social democrat Enrico Rizzi and Renzo Peruzzotti.
In 1968 general election Craxi was elected for the first time at the
Chamber of Deputies
During this period he was a strong supporters of the Organic
Centre-left coalition, between the Christian Democrats of Aldo Moro
In 1972 with the re-election of
Francesco De Martino as National
Secretary of the Socialist Party during the
As responsible of the PSI foreign policy he supported, also financially, some socialist parties banned by the dictatorships of their respective countries, including the Spanish Socialist Workers Party , the Panhellenic Socialist Movement and the Chilean Socialist Party of Salvador Allende , of whom Craxi was a personal friend.
SECRETARY OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY
In 1976 the Secretary
Francesco De Martino wrote an article in the
Craxi always opposed the Historic Compromise policy of Moro and Berlinguer, a political alliance and an accommodation between the Christian Democrats and the Communists; the alliance would inevitably made it politically irrelevant the Socialists. He outlined for a line of alternation between the DC and the left-wing, represented by his party, due to the close relations between the PCI and the Soviet Union .
On the morning of 16 March 1978, the day on which the new cabinet led
Giulio Andreotti was supposed to have undergone a confidence vote
Italian Parliament , the car of
In 1978 Craxi decided to change the party logo of the party. He chose
a red carnation to represent the new course of the party, in honour of
In July 1978, following the resignation of President Giovanni Leone , after a lengthy parliamentary battle, Craxi was able to bring together a large number of votes, electing Sandro Pertini , as new President; Pertini was the first Socialist to hold this position. Pertini was also supported by the Communists, which considered the old Socialist partisan not conducive to the "new course" of Craxi.
Craxi, on the one hand explicitly distanced himself from Leninism referring to forms of authoritarian socialism, and on the other he showed supports to the civil society movements and to the battles for civil rights, mainly proposed by the Radical Party , he oversaw its image through the media.
As leader of PSI, he tried to undermine the
Even if the PSI never became a serious electoral challenger either to the PCI or the Christian Democrats, its pivotal position in the political arena allowed it to claim the post of Prime Minister for Craxi after the 1983 general election . The electoral support for the Christian Democrats was significantly weakened, leaving it with 32.9% of the vote, compared to the 38.3% it gained in 1979 . The PSI, that had obtained only 11%, threatened to leave the parliamentary majority unless Craxi was made Prime Minister. The Christian Democrats accepted this compromise to avoid a new election. Craxi became the first Socialist in the history of the Italian Republic to be appointed Prime Minister.
PRIME MINISTER OF ITALY
The main dynamic of Italian post-war politics was to find a way to
Italian Communist Party out of power. This led to the
constant formation of political alliances between parties keen on
keeping the Communists at bay. Things were further complicated by the
fact that many parties had internal currents that would have welcomed
the Communists in the governing coalition, in particular, within
Christian Democracy, the largest party in
During Craxi's tenure as Prime Minister,
In domestic policy, a number of reforms were initiated during Craxi's time in office. In 1984, solidarity contracts (work-sharing arrangements to avoid redundancies) were introduced, while restrictions on part-time employment were relaxed. In the field of family welfare, legislation was enacted in 1984 and 1986 that changed the family allowance system "so that people most in need received larger amounts and coverage was progressively reduced to the point of termination once certain income levels were exceeded."
As a result of his spending policies, the Italian national debt skyrocketed during the Craxi era, passing 100% of gross national product . The level of public debt remains in excess of 100% of GDP today.
Concordate With The Vatican
In 1984, Craxi signed agreement with the
The revised concordat regulated the conditions under which civil effects are accorded to church marriages and to ecclesiastical declarations of nullity of marriages. Abolished articles included those concerning state recognition of knighthoods and titles of nobility conferred by the Holy See, the undertaking by the Holy See to confer ecclesiastical honours on those authorized to perform religious functions at the request of the State or the Royal Household, and the obligation of the Holy See to enable the Italian government to present political objections to the proposed appointment of diocesan bishops.
Craxi with the Romanian President Nicolae Ceaușescu .
In the international arena, Craxi helped dissidents and Socialist
parties throughout the world to organise and become independent.
Notable recipients of his logistical help were the Spanish Socialist
Workers\' Party (PSOE) during
Francisco Franco 's dictatorship and
dramatist Jiři Pelikan, in the former
There is also evidence that part of Craxi's illegally earned money
was given in secret to leftist political opposition in Uruguay during
the military dictatorship, to Solidarity in the period of Jaruzelski
rule in Poland and to
The Sigonella Crisis
Main article: Achille Lauro hijacking
Internationally, Craxi is perhaps best remembered for an incident in
October 1985, when he refused the request of US President Ronald
Reagan to extradite the hijackers of the cruise ship Achille Lauro .
After protracted negotiations, the hijackers were given safe passage
This move was supposedly dictated both by security concerns about
US Attack On Libya
Giulio Andreotti , Italy's foreign minister at the time
(and 42nd Prime Minister of Italy) and
Abdel Rahman Shalgham (Libya's
Foreign Minister from 2000 until 2009), Craxi was the person who
telephoned Libyan leader
Muammar al-Gaddafi to warn him of the
Operation El Dorado Canyon retaliatory air-strikes
against Libya on 15 April 1986. This permitted Gaddafi and his family
to evacuate their residence in the
For the Libyan attack, Craxi's government denied the United States
any rights of military overflight, as did France and Spain. For the
United States, this precluded the use of European continental bases,
forcing the US Air Force component to be flown around France and
In April 1987, the Secretary of the Christian Democracy Ciriaco De
Mita decided not to support more Craxi's government. This caused the
immediate fall of the cabinet and the formation of a new government
led by the long-time Christian Democratic politician Amintore Fanfani
. Even though Fanfani was a close friend and ally of Craxi, he did not
participate in the swearing in ceremony, sending the Undersecretary to
the Presidency of the Council
AFTER THE PREMIERSHIP
In the 1987 general election the PSI won 14.3% of the vote, a good result but less good than what Craxi hoped, and this time it was the Christian Democrats' turn to govern. From 1987 to 1992 the PSI participated in four governments, allowing Giulio Andreotti to take power in 1989 and to govern until 1992. The Socialists held a strong balance of power, which made them more powerful than the Christian Democrats, who had to depend on it to form a majority in Parliament. The PSI kept tight control of this advantage.
The alternative which Craxi had wanted so much was taking shape: the idea of a "Social Unity" with the other left-wing political parties, including the PCI, proposed by Craxi in 1989 after the fall of communism. He believed that the collapse of communism in eastern Europe had undermined the PCI and made Social Unity inevitable. In fact the PSI was in line to become the Italy's second largest party and to become the dominant force of a new left-wing coalition opposed to a Christian Democrat-led one. This did not actually happen because of the rise of Lega Nord and the Tangentopoli scandals.
INVOLVEMENT IN "TANGENTOPOLI" SCANDAL
Main article: Mani pulite Craxi greeted by a salvo of coins as a sign of loathing by protesters.
The last main turning point of Craxi's career began in February 1992,
when Socialist MP Mario Chiesa was arrested by police while taking a 7
million lira bribe from a cleaning service firm. Chiesa sought Craxi's
protection for nearly a month; but Craxi accused him of casting a
shadow on the "most honest party in Italy." Feeling marginalised and
unjustly singled-out, Chiesa divulged everything he knew to the
prosecutors. His revelations brought half of the
In July 1992, Craxi finally realised the situation was serious and
that he himself was going to be hit by the unfolding scandal. He made
an appeal before the
Chamber of Deputies
Craxi received his first prosecution notice in December 1992. More followed in January and February, at which point the Court of Milan explicitly asked Parliament to authorise Craxi's prosecution for bribery and corruption (at the time, Italian MPs were immune from prosecution unless authorised by Parliament). The authorisation was denied on 29 April 1993 after Craxi gave an emotional speech. However, upon coming out of the Roman Raphael Hotel, where he lived, received a salvo of coins that members coming from Democratic Party of the Left rally and the rightists Italian Social Movement , in Piazza Navona threw to him as a sign of their disgust. They started to jump and sing: "He, who does not jump is a Socialist!" (from a traditional stadium chant). Some of the students waved 1,000-lire bills, singing Bettino, do you want these too? (Bettino, vuoi pure queste?) to the tune of Guantanamera .
FACING THE JUDGES
In December 1993, after his prosecution was finally authorised, Craxi was called to testify alongside Democrazia Cristiana party secretary Arnaldo Forlani before Justice Antonio Di Pietro . Questions were asked about the so-called ENIMONT 'super-bribe' which the PSI and DC had jointly received and democratically shared. Forlani evasively asked what a bribe was while Craxi, after admitting to the charges brought against himself and other parties, stated that the bribes were "the cost of politics." Craxi, noting that the legal process had accelerated in his case, claimed that his prosecution was politically motivated.
In May 1994 he fled to
The CAF (the Craxi-Andreotti-Forlani axis), which had made a pact to
Pentapartito (an alliance of five parties: DC, PSI, Italian
Republican Party, Italian Liberal Party, Italian Democratic Socialist
Party) of the
The set of anti-corruption investigations carried out by the Milan judges came to be collectively called Mani pulite (clean hands). No party was spared, but in some parties corruption had become more endemic than elsewhere (either because of more opportunity or internal ethics). To this day, some people (especially those who were close to Craxi) argue that some parties (such as the Italian Communist Party ) were left untouched, while the leaders of then ruling coalition (and in particular Bettino Craxi) were wiped off the political map.
The judges in
In the end, the Socialist party went from 14% of the vote to a
virtual nil. An ironic note was that the disgraced remnant of the
party was excluded from Parliament by the minimum 4% threshold
As mentioned before, during the "Mani pulite" period Craxi tried to use a daring defence tactic: he maintained that all parties needed and took money illegally, however they could get it, to finance their activities. His defence was therefore not to declare himself innocent, but everybody guilty. While this was basically the truth, most citizens distrusted politicians, and Craxi's defence got no sympathy by the citizens and may have even served to enrage them further. It should be noted, besides, that some bribes didn't go to the parties at all. They went to the personal wallets of the politician who happened to take them.
In 2012, Di Pietro admitted that Craxi was right when during the
process Enimont he accused
Italian Communist Party to have received
illegal funding from the
CRITICS TO HIS LIFESTYLE
Craxi's lifestyle was perceived to be inappropriate for the secretary of a party with so many alleged financial problems: he lived in the Raphael, an expensive hotel in Rome's centre, and had a large villa in Hammamet , Tunisia. As the Mani Pulite investigations were to uncover in the 1990s, personal corruption was endemic in Italian society; while many politicians, including Craxi, would justify corruption with the necessities of a democracy, political leaders at many levels enjoyed a lifestyle that should have been well out of their reach, while most parties continued having financial problems. Rino Formica , a prominent member of the Socialist Party in those years, wittily said that "the convent is poor, but the friars are rich".
Furthermore, Craxi's arrogant character won him many enemies; one of
his most condemned actions was blaming corruption in the socialist
party on treasurer Vincenzo Balzamo, just after the latter's death, in
order to clear himself of any accusation. He also had controversial
friends, such as
Craxi's entourage was famously criticised by Formica as a "court of
midgets and dancers" (corte di nani e ballerine), indicating the often
ludicrous and immoral traits of a system based on personal
acquaintance rather than merit. Among the friends of Craxi's to
receive smaller and larger favours,
Silvio Berlusconi is perhaps the
most known: he received many favours, especially regarding his media
empire, and had a decree named after him ("Decreto Berlusconi") long
before he entered politics. Other figures were Craxi's mistresses Ania
Pieroni , who owned a TV station in the
Craxi was also known for never apologising, as a matter of principle; most Italians expected an apology after the corrupt system had been exposed. Craxi never apologised, stating he had done nothing that everybody else had not been doing, and that he was being unjustly singled out and persecuted.
JUDGEMENTS OF EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
All three appeals by Craxi to
DECLINE AND DISSOLUTION OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY
In the 1994 general election , what was left of PSI allied itself to
Alliance of Progressives
The party was disbanded on 13 November 1994 after two years of agony, in which almost all of its longtime leaders, especially Bettino Craxi, were involved in Tangentopoli and decided to leave politics. The 100-year-old party closed down, partially thanks to its leaders for their personalisation of the PSI.
Craxism (ita : Craxismo) was and is according to some extant, an Italian political ideology based on Craxi's thought. It was informal ideology of the Socialist Party from 1976 to 1994.
ORIGINS AND FEATURES
The Craxism, although the term derogatory today was based on a synthesis of social democracy, socialism and social liberalism. In fact, if on one side the PSI under Craxi is required with a strong third-worldism , Pro-Arabianism , environmentalism and a modern welfare state system (typical of the modern left ), on the other hand was strongly pro-Atlanticist and pro-europeanist and placed on a strong defense of territorial sovereignty (e.g. " Sigonella crisis" American armed forces) and on conservative policies on issues such as abortion and war on drugs .
Under Craxi, PSI moved from left-wing to centre-left, much to ally with the Christian Democracy and other moderate parties that formed a coalition called Pentapartito , which ensured a stable majority to govern.
Craxism is often used in derogatory form to define a
corrupt politician, although some welcome him in a favourable manner:
this is the case of those who, following the dissolution of the PSI,
joined the newly formed
Forza Italia of Silvio Berlusconi
(centre-right ), but also a part of those who formed the Italian
Socialists , small party adhering to the
Alliance of progressives
Finally, the Craxism has led to the change of the entire European socialism , together with Felipe González (PSOE ), François Mitterrand (PS ) and Helmut Schmidt (SPD ), during all the years 80; In addition, along with these other figures, inspired the overhaul and the policies of Tony Blair 's Labour Party , the José Zapatero 's PSOE and the Andreas Papandreou 's PASOK .
In Italy, the main critics of the
Craxism (as well as the figure of
Craxi), are the former Communists (including most members of the
Democratic Party ) and some media left-wing press (Il Fatto Quotidiano
, il manifesto , L\'Espresso ,
DEATH AND LEGACY
ESCAPE TO TUNISIA AND DEATH
Craxi's grave in Hammamet , Tunisia.
All this resulted in him being considered the symbol of political
Craxi died on 19 January 2000, at the age of 65, from complications
of diabetes . The then Prime Minister of and Democrats of the Left
leader, Massimo D\'Alema , proposed a state funeral, but his proposal
was not accepted by Craxi's own family, who accused the then
government of preventing the Craxi to return to
Craxi's funerals took place at the cathedral of
* ^ I tre più potenti? Agnelli, Craxi e De Mita
* ^ Craxi, tutti i processi e le condanne
* ^ Bettino Craxi, discorso sul finanziamento politico, Camera dei
Deputati, 3 luglio 1992
* ^ Craxi, il ricordo di Berlusconi: "Mi manca, simbolo di
* ^ Berlusconi, 20 anni fa la discesa in campo. Con la regia di
Craxi e Dell’Utri
* ^ Craxi, González y Soares coinciden en que la incorporación de
* Wilsford, David, ed. Political leaders of contemporary Western Europe: a biographical dictionary (Greenwood, 1995) pp 31–44,
* Craxi Foundation website (in