MANI PULITE (pronounced , Italian for "clean hands") was a
nationwide judicial investigation into political corruption in Italy
held in the 1990s.
In some accounts, as many as 5,000 public figures fell under suspicion. At one point, more than half of the members of the Italian Parliament were under indictment. More than 400 city and town councils were dissolved because of corruption charges. The estimated value of bribes paid annually in the 1980s by Italian and foreign companies bidding for large government contracts reached 4 billion dollars (6.5 trillion lire).
The corrupt system uncovered by these investigations was usually referred to as Tangentopoli (Italian pronunciation: ). The term derives from tangente, which means kickback and in this context refers to kickbacks given for public works contracts, and poli meaning city; it is thus sometimes translated as "Bribesville" or "Kickback City."
* 1 Arrest of Mario Chiesa
* 2 Extension of anti-corruption investigations
* 3 Effect on national politics
* 4 The Cusani trial
* 5 Investigations on other fronts
* 6 Escalating conflict between
ARREST OF MARIO CHIESA
Tangentopoli began on 17 February 1992 when judge Antonio Di Pietro had Mario Chiesa , a member of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI), arrested for accepting a bribe from a Milan cleaning firm. The PSI distanced themselves from Chiesa, with PSI leader Bettino Craxi calling him mariuolo, or "villain", a "wild splinter" of the otherwise clean party. Upset over this treatment by his former colleagues, Chiesa began to give information about corruption implicating them. This marked the beginning of the mani pulite investigation; news of political corruption began spreading in the press.
EXTENSION OF ANTI-CORRUPTION INVESTIGATIONS
In the 1992 elections, the centre-right Christian Democracy (DC) held
on to power when its coalition government kept a small majority, while
leftist opposition parties gained support. However, the Italian
Communist Party split after the fall of the
During April 1992, many industrial figures and politicians from both
the government and the opposition were arrested on charges of
corruption. While the investigations started in Milan, they quickly
spread to other towns as more politicians confessed. One grotesque
situation occurred when a Socialist politician immediately confessed
to all of his crimes to two
Fundamental to this increased exposure was the general attitude of the main politicians to drop support for subordinates who got caught; this made many of them feel betrayed, and they often implicated many other figures, who in turn would implicate even more. On 2 September 1992, the Socialist politician Sergio Moroni, charged with corruption, committed suicide. He left a letter pleading guilty, declaring that crimes were not for his personal gain but for the party's benefit, and accused the financing system of all the political parties.
EFFECT ON NATIONAL POLITICS
In the local December elections, DC lost half of their votes. The day
On 5 March 1993, the Italian government of
Giuliano Amato and his
Giovanni Conso tried to find a solution with a
decree, which allowed criminal charges for several bribery-related
crimes to be replaced by administrative charges instead; according to
Italian popular opinion at the time, that would have resulted in a de
facto amnesty for most corruption charges. Amid public outrage and
nationwide rallies, the Italian president of the Republic Oscar Luigi
Scalfaro refused to sign the decree, deeming it unconstitutional. The
following week, a US$250 million affair involving
On 25 March 1993, the Italian parliament changed the municipal
electoral law in favor of a majoritarian system. Later, on 18 April,
the public overwhelmingly backed the abrogation of the existing
proportional representation parliamentary electoral law in a
referendum (a mixed system was introduced that August), causing Amato
to resign three days later. Still shocked by the recent events, the
Parliament was unable to produce a new government. Carlo Azeglio
Ciampi , former governor of the national bank, was appointed head of
the government and appointed a technical government without political
influences. In the meantime, the investigation of Craxi was blocked by
the parliament. Several members of the government, having been in
office just three days, resigned in protest; among them were Francesco
Minister of the Environment and
Vincenzo Visco , Minister of
Eventually, all four parties in government in 1992 disappeared, at different times in different ways: the Christian Democracy , the Italian Socialist Party , the Italian Socialist Democratic Party , and the Italian Liberal Party . The Democratic Party of the Left , the Italian Republican Party and the Movimento Sociale Italiano were the only surviving national parties; the Republican party is the only one that has maintained its name since.
According to the American ambassador Reginald Bartholomew , behind the operation there was the CIA who helped the Italian prosecutors to accuse the politicians.
THE CUSANI TRIAL
Di Pietro during the Cusani trial.
On 20 July 1993, the former
Meanwhile, the trial of Sergio Cusani began. Mr. Cusani was accused
of crimes connected to a joint venture between
A high note was reached in the Cusani trial when former head of
Arnaldo Forlani , answering a question, simply said "I
don't remember"; he also happened to be very nervous and did not
notice that sweat was accumulating on his lips, and that image was by
many considered symbolic of the people's disgust for the corruption
A bribe to the Italian Communist Party was alleged, but it was not established who had committed the offence. A number of Milanese members of the Democratic Party of the Left were charged with corruption during their time as members of the PCI but they were acquitted. As prosecutor Antonio Di Pietro stated, "Penal responsibility is personal. I cannot bring here a person with first name Communist and last name Party".
The Enimont trial itself was carried out after the Cusani trial, with much less public interest.
INVESTIGATIONS ON OTHER FRONTS
In the meantime, the investigation expanded outside the political
range: on 2 September 1993 the Milan judge Diego Curtò was arrested.
On 21 April 1994, 80 financial policemen and 300 industry
personalities were charged with corruption. A few days later, the
secretary of the large
The law was carefully timed as
Just a few days before, the arrested policemen had been talking about
corruption in the
Fininvest media industry, the biggest Berlusconi
family property. Most of the
Since the government could not afford to be seen as an adversary of
the popular judge pool, the decree was hastily revoked and marked a
"misunderstanding"; minister for internal affairs
Roberto Maroni from
On 29 July Berlusconi's brother was again arrested and immediately released.
ESCALATING CONFLICT BETWEEN SILVIO BERLUSCONI AND ANTONIO DI PIETRO
At this point there began what has been described by many as the
"Berlusconi-Di Pietro battle". While Berlusconi's industries were
being investigated, "inspectors" were sent from the government to the
Milanese judges' office to look for formal irregularities. None were
ever found, but this tactic, coupled with Berlusconi's firm grip on
the information system, helped spread what is described in other
environments as FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). The battle ended
without winners: on 6 December Di Pietro resigned. Two weeks later,
During 1995, many investigations were started against Antonio Di
Pietro , who would years later be cleared of all charges, while Silvio
After being cleared,
Antonio Di Pietro went into politics, something
he had previously ruled out on the grounds that he did not want to
exploit the popularity gained doing what he perceived to be just his
duty. His movement is named
Italia dei Valori ("
Cesare Previti , former manager of
Fininvest and then
sitting in parliament after the
STATUTORY TERM STRATEGY
After 1994, the danger of trials being cancelled due to the
expiration of statutory terms was becoming very real. This was clear
to the judges and to the politicians, and the latter ones (with no
Furthermore, the intricate nature of Italian laws allowed cunning
lawyers to use many delaying tactics: an instructive example was a
The term lottizzazione, meaning the way a terrain is divided up in minor parts or lotti, came to indicate the procedure of awarding top positions in important state conglomerates such as IRI , ENEL or ENI to political figures, or at least managers with a clear political orientation. This usually trickled down to lower levels, creating power centres depending on political parties that controlled a significant part of the production system. The available seats were usually awarded so that government parties (and opposition parties like the Italian Communist Party ) would get a share of power corresponding to their perceived influence in the government.
IN MODERN CULTURE
In 2005, artist Gianni Motti created a piece of soap , named Mani
Pulite, based on the scandal. This piece was claimed to have been
created out of the fat from a liposuction of
A 2015 television series titled 1992 is based on the events of mani pulite.
* Nelken, David (1996). A legal revolution? The judges and
Tangentopoli. The New Italian Republic: From the Fall of the Berlin
Wall to Berlusconi. Routledge. pp. 191–205.
* Buonanno, Paolo; Prarolo, Giovanni; Vanin, Paolo (January 2016).
"Organized crime and electoral outcomes. Evidence from Sicily at the
turn of the XXI century".
European Journal of Political Economy .
* ^ A B Stephen P. Koff (2002). Italy: From the 1st to the 2nd Republic. Routledge. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-203-00536-1 . * ^ Moliterno, Gino (2000). Encyclopedia of contemporary Italian culture. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-14584-8 . * ^ -poli is also used as a suffix for a scandal (e.g. Calciopoli , Scommessopoli ), much like " -gate " in the English language (i.e. Zippergate , bloodgate ). * ^ http://www.ilgiornale.it/news/interni/ci-fu-regia-occulta-degli-usa-dietro-mani-pulite-rivelazioni-833119.html * ^ http://www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2012/09/01/mani-pulite-de-michelis-cia-copri-lapertura-del-conto-protezione/339642/ * ^ http://www.lastampa.it/2012/09/02/italia/politica/ho-sempre-pensato-che-tangentopoli-fosse-pilotata-dalla-cia-fibEQb7mFInpsnEmZzOCsK/pagina.html * ^ http://www.repubblica.it/2005/f/sezioni/spettacoli_e_cultura/motti/sapovendu/sapovendu.html * ^ Young, Deborah. "\'1992\': Berlin Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 March 2016.