Arnaldo Forlani

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Arnaldo Forlani
Forlani in 1979
Prime Minister of Italy
In office
18 October 1980 – 28 June 1981
PresidentSandro Pertini
Preceded byFrancesco Cossiga
Succeeded byGiovanni Spadolini
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
In office
4 August 1983 – 18 April 1987
Prime MinisterBettino Craxi
Preceded byUgo La Malfa
Succeeded byGiuliano Amato
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
30 July 1976 – 5 August 1979
Prime MinisterGiulio Andreotti
Preceded byMariano Rumor
Succeeded byFranco Maria Malfatti
Minister of Defence
In office
23 November 1974 – 30 July 1976
Prime MinisterAldo Moro
Preceded byGiulio Andreotti
Succeeded byVittorio Lattanzio
Secretary of the Christian Democracy
In office
22 February 1989 – 12 October 1992
Preceded byCiriaco De Mita
Succeeded byMino Martinazzoli
In office
9 November 1969 – 17 June 1973
Preceded byFlaminio Piccoli
Succeeded byAmintore Fanfani
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
12 June 1958 – 14 April 1994
Personal details
Born(1925-12-08)8 December 1925
Pesaro, Kingdom of Italy
Died6 July 2023(2023-07-06) (aged 97)
Rome, Italy
Political party
Alma Maria
(died 2015)
Alma materUniversity of Urbino
  • Journalist
  • politician

Arnaldo Forlani (Italian: [arˈnaldo forˈlaːni] ; 8 December 1925 – 6 July 2023) was an Italian politician who served as the prime minister of Italy from 1980 to 1981. He also held the office of deputy prime minister, minister of foreign affairs, and minister of defence.

A member of the right-wing faction of the Christian Democracy (DC) party, Forlani was one of the most prominent Italian politicians from the 1970s to early 1990s. He led the DC party on two occasions: between 1969 and 1973, and between 1989 and 1992. Forlani's permiership, which lasted less than a year, was strongly marked by the 1980 Irpinia earthquake and the P2 lodge scandal, the latter causing his resignation in June 1981.

In 1981, together with Bettino Craxi and Giulio Andreotti, promoted the Pentapartito, the political coalition between the three major Italian parties that ruled Italy between 1981 and 1991. At the time of his death in 2023, he was both the oldest living and the longest-lived Italian prime minister.

Early life and career[edit]

Forlani was born on 8 December 1925, in Pesaro, Marche.[2][3] As a youth he played as a midfielder for Vis Pesaro, in the Serie C of the Italian soccer league.[3] In 1948, after getting a degree in law at the University of Urbino and being elected comunal and provincial councilor, Forlani began his political career, holding the position of provincial secretary of Christian Democracy (DC) for Pesaro.[3][4]

In 1954 he became a member of the central committee of Christian Democracy, as member of the right-wing faction.[5][3] The following year, Forlani became director of the party's section Studi, Propaganda e Stampa (S.P.E.S).[6] In the 1958 Italian general election, Forlani was elected in the Chamber of Deputies for the first time.[6] Forlani soon became one of the closest collaborators of Amintore Fanfani, as an exponent of the Nuove Cronache DC current, of which Forlani became its number two in 1959.[6][7]

In 1962, he was elected national vicesecretary of Christian Democracy, under Aldo Moro's leadership.[7] He held this position for seven years, until 1969, under the secretariat of Mariano Rumor and Flaminio Piccoli.[7]

Secretary of the Christian Democratic party[edit]

Forlani in 1972

When Mariano Rumor became Prime Minister in December 1968, he appointed Forlani as Minister of Public Shares and in August 1969 he became Minister for the Relations with the United Nations, in the Rumor's second cabinet.[6][4]

In September 1969, in San Ginesio he stipulated, together with Ciriaco de Mita, the "Pact of San Ginesio" to lead the Christian Democracy party, which materialized when two months later, on 9 November 1969, Forlani became Secretary of the CD and De Mita, its vice-secretary.[6][7] Forlani assumed the leadership of the party in a moment of social instability provoked by the mobilizations in the universities and factories, for which he drafted the Preambolo, to ask the Italian Socialist Party to be part of a center-left government in order to break all relations with the communists in the municipal administrations and the trade unions.[8]

The CD's comfortable victory in the regional elections of 1970, with 37% of the vote nationwide and victory in all regions except three, did not allow Forlani to achieve that DC's candidate for the presidential elections the following year, Amintore Fanfani, gain enough confidence of the Chamber of Deputies.[6] Forlani's second candidate was Aldo Moro, but also this nomination was rejected by the Parliament. At the end, the DC proposed Giovanni Leone, former Prime Minister and long-time President of the Chamber of Deputies, who was elected with the support of the neo-fascist Social Movement.[9][10]

In the snap general elections of 1972, which took place on 7 May, the advance of the right in the country was stopped, remaining stable with around 38% of the votes.[6][11]

His former mentor, Amintore Fanfani, succeeded Farloni as secretary of the DC in the 1973 party's Congress.[6]

Three years later, in 1976, Farloni tried to regain the party's secretariat as representative of the moderate internal current against the pacts with the Communist Party, but was defeated by Benigno Zaccagnini, who represented the more left-wing bloc.[6]

Member of the government[edit]

Between 1974 and 1976, Forlani was Minister of Defence.[12]

When the Republicans left Moro's cabinet in 1976, no possibilities of a new government remained, and an early vote was called. After the election, which saw a great success of the Communist Party, Andreotti became the new Prime Minister and Forlani was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.[13][6]

The reasons of this important nomination were firstly the necessity to recover a climate of unity in the party after the congressional divisions and secondly the opportunity, in a world still marked by the Cold War, to allocate foreign policy to a clearly anti-communist personality, as Forlani was, able to calm the European and U.S. partners.[14] During his ministry, Forlani strongly supported the European integration process, and the adhesion of Portugal to the European Economic Community.[15]

Prime Minister of Italy[edit]

President Sandro Pertini with the Forlani Cabinet at the Quirinal Palace

In 1980, Forlani was among the main sponsor of Flaminio Piccoli in the party congress. Piccoli was elected Secretary at the head of a centre-right majority. Due to his fundamental role in Piccoli's election, Forlani was appointed Prime Minister of Italy in October, leading a centre to centre-left coalition with PSI, PSDI and PRI.[16][17]

1980 Irpinia earthquake[edit]

During his premiership, Forlani had to face also the Irpinia earthquake, a strong shock, that was centered on the village of Conza in Campania, and left at least 2,483 people dead, at least 7,700 injured, and left 250,000 homeless.[18][19]

Forlani's government spent 59 trillion lire on reconstruction, while other nations sent contributions. West Germany contributed 32 million United States dollars (USD) and the United States US$70 million.[20] However, in the early 1990s a major corruption scandal emerged. Of the billions of lire that were predestined for aid to the victims and rebuilding, the largest part disappeared from the earthquake reconstruction funds in the 1980s. Of the $40 billion spent on earthquake reconstruction, an estimated $20 billion went to create an entirely new social class of millionaires in the region, $6.4 billion went to the Camorra, whereas another $4 billion went to politicians in bribes. Only the remaining $9.6 billion a quarter of the total amount, was actually spent on people's needs.[21] Moreover, the Mafia entered the construction industry after the quake.[22]

P2 scandal and resignation[edit]

During his premiership, the list of who belonged to the secret lodge P2 was published. The P2 was a Masonic lodge founded in 1945 that, by the time its Masonic charter was withdrawn in 1976, had transformed into a clandestine, pseudo-Masonic, ultraright[23][24][25] organization operating in contravention of Article 18 of the Constitution of Italy that banned secret associations. In its latter period, during which the lodge was headed by Licio Gelli, P2 was implicated in numerous Italian crimes and mysteries, including the collapse of the Vatican-affiliated Banco Ambrosiano, the murders of journalist Mino Pecorelli and banker Roberto Calvi, and corruption cases within the nationwide bribe scandal Tangentopoli. P2 came to light through the investigations into the collapse of Michele Sindona's financial empire.[26]

P2 was sometimes referred to as a "state within a state"[27] or a "shadow government".[28] The lodge had among its members prominent journalists, Members of Parliament, industrialists, and military leaders—including Silvio Berlusconi, who later became Prime Minister of Italy; the Savoy pretender to the Italian throne Victor Emmanuel;[29] and the heads of all three Italian intelligence services (at the time SISDE, SISMI, and CESIS).

When searching Gelli's villa in 1981, the police found a document called the "Plan for Democratic Rebirth", which called for a consolidation of the media, suppression of trade unions, and the rewriting of the Italian Constitution.[30] However, the lateness with which they were published gained Forlani heavy criticism, in particular from the Communist Party. He was therefore compelled to resign from the position, staying away from the spotlight of politics for a certain period. With his resignation and the appointment of Republican leader Giovanni Spadolini, the unbroken line since 1945 of Christian Democratic Prime Ministers came to an end.[31][32]

After the premiership[edit]

Forlani with Giulio Andreotti

In 1981, at a Socialist Congress, Forlani and Socialist leader Bettino Craxi signed an agreement with the "blessing" of Giulio Andreotti, in which began the so-called Pentapartito.[6][33]

In 1982, Forlani tried again to become DC Secretary, but he was defeated by his former deputy secretary Ciriaco De Mita, who was now supported also by Fanfani.[6] In 1983 the Socialist leader Bettino Craxi was appointed Prime Minister by President Sandro Pertini and Forlani became his Deputy Prime Minister.[34][6]

Second term as secretary[edit]

In the 18th DC National Congress Forlani was elected secretary for a second time, with 85% of votes.[6] He managed as secretary the long government crisis that followed the 19 May 1989 resignation of Ciriaco de Mita as Prime Minister after strong contrasts with Bettino Craxi.[35]

In July, the sixth Andreotti government took office and, after the good results of the DC in the 1989 European Parliament election, promoted the so-called "C.A.F." political alliance, to shield the Pentapartito and whose initials correspond to the initials of Craxi, Andreotti and Forlani, which was the pivot of Italian politics for the remaining part of the legislature until the 1992 election.[6][35]

He was Member of the European Parliament in its third legislature, between 1989 and 1994.[36]

1992 election and presidential ambitions[edit]

Forlani in 1992

Forlani, at the end of 1991, convened the National Programmatic Conference of the DC in Milan in which he warned that the First Republic was collapsing and identified possible, being the reform of the proportional electoral law that included a 'corrective majority' one of his main remedies.[6] The following year, the Mani Pulite investigation began and, in the 5 April general election, the Christian Democracy 5 April lost 5 points.[6]

In the presidential election of the same year, the Christian Democracy proposed Forlani as its candidate to the presidency of the Republic.[6] However, during the 5th and 6th ballots, held on 16 May 1992, Forlani missed the election by 39 and 29 votes respectively. Following these defeats, Forlani withdrew his candidacy as President of the Republic.[6]

Judicial case, resignation and decline[edit]

In 1992 he was charged to two years and four months in prison for illicit financing for his involvement in Mani pulite scandal.[3][4] His testimony ended up being remembered for his ruthless and uncooperative response to the prosecuting lawyer's questions during the hearings.[4] The sentence was replaced with community service for Caritas in Rome.[6][4]

That conviction, added to the failed race for the presidency of the country and the bad results in the 1992 Italian general election, put an end to his political career. Forlani resigned as DC secretary that same year.[37][3] He did not stand for re-election as deputy in the general election of 1994, ending an uninterrupted parliamentary career that began in 1958.[35]

Personal life and death[edit]

State funeral of Arnaldo Forlani on 10 July 2023

Forlani married Alma Maria, from whom he was widowed on 6 October 2015 when she died at the age of 86. They had three sons: Alessandro, Marco, and Luigi. Alessandro also had a stint in Italian politics, becoming a deputy and senator.[38]

Forlani died on 6 July 2023 in his house of Rome at the age of 97.[33][6]

The government declared two days of mourning, between 8 and 10 July, and announced a state funeral that took place on 10 July in Rome's Santi Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense basilica.[39][40][41]


  1. ^ "Morta moglie Arnaldo Forlani – Marche". 6 October 2015.
  2. ^ Profile of Arnaldo Forlani
  3. ^ a b c d e f "È morto Arnaldo Forlani: l'ex premier aveva 97 anni, un pezzo di storia della Dc". Libero Quotidiano (in Italian). 7 July 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bonanata, Antonio (7 July 2023). "Addio ad Arnaldo Forlani, l'ex premier aveva 97 anni. Si è spento nella sua casa a Roma". Rai News 24 (in Italian).
  5. ^ Crisis and Transition in Italian politics
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Curridori, Francesco (6 July 2023). "È morto Arnaldo Forlani, l'ultimo grande della Dc". Il Giornale (in Italian).
  7. ^ a b c d "Storia di Arnaldo Forlani, una vita spesa tutta in politica". l'Unità (in Italian). 8 July 2023.
  8. ^ Mafai, Miriam (7 April 1993). "TUTTO CAMBIA, ARNALDO NO". La Repubblica.
  9. ^ In un'intervista televisiva, Francesco Cossiga sostiene che in quella circostanza la candidatura di Leone prevalse su quella di Aldo Moro per un solo voto. Tale ricostruzione è tuttavia smentita dalle dichiarazioni di Giulio Andreotti nel corso della stessa trasmissione e dai diari di Leone Archived 2011-11-06 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ ANSA: Natale amaro per Fanfani. Leone al Quirinale
  11. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1048 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  12. ^ È morto Arnaldo Forlani, già Presidente del Consiglio e Ministro della Difesa (in Italian)
  13. ^ III Governo Andreotti
  14. ^ La Civilità Cattolica
  15. ^ Biografia di Arnaldo Forlani
  16. ^ Arnaldo Forlani – Enciclopedia Treccani
  17. ^ Arnaldo Forlani acepta la "difícil tarea" de formar Gobierno en Italia (in Spanish)
  18. ^ Rovida, Andrea; Camassi, Romano Daniele; Gasperini, Paolo; Stucchi, Massimiliano (2011), Rovida, A.; Camassi, R.; Gasperini, P.; Stucchi, M. (eds.), CPTI11, the 2011 version of the Parametric Catalogue of Italian Earthquakes, Milano, Bologna: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, doi:10.6092/INGV.IT-CPTI11
  19. ^ USGS (4 September 2009), PAGER-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2008_06.1, United States Geological Survey, archived from the original on 13 March 2020
  20. ^ Antonello Caporale (13 December 2004), Irpinia, 20 anni dopo (in Italian), la Repubblica, retrieved 7 April 2009
  21. ^ Behan, Tom (1996). The Camorra. Routledge. p. 188. ISBN 978-1138006737.
  22. ^ McKenna, Josephine (28 August 2016). "Italy must block mafia from earthquake rebuild, says prosecutor". The Guardian.
  23. ^ Herman, Edward (2002). Manufacturing consent the political economy of the mass media. New York: Pantheon Books. p. 152. ISBN 0307801624. ...the extreme right-wing organization Propaganda Due (P-2), ...
  24. ^ Naylor, R. T. (2004). Hot money and the politics of debt. Montreal Que: McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 84. ISBN 0773572074. ...[Licio Gelli] organized a special, ultrasecret, ultrarightist lodge, Propaganda-Due
  25. ^ Bar, FirstName (2007). Where have all the fascists gone. Aldershot, England Burlington, VT: Ashgate. p. 39. ISBN 978-0754671541. ... a similar strategy of infiltration within the military milieu by Italian radical right-wing terrorist groups and clandestine elite pressure groups such as Propaganda-Due (P-2) ...
  26. ^ "Masonic lodge affair leaves Italy shocked". The Times. 23 May 1981.
  27. ^ BBC On This Day: 26 May 1981
  28. ^ Jones, The Dark Heart of Italy, p. 187
  29. ^ Hooper, John (23 June 2006). "The fall of the house of Savoy". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
  30. ^ Jones, The Dark Heart of Italy, p. 186
  31. ^ Giovanni Spadolini – Enciclopedia Treccani
  32. ^ 1981: Italy in crisis as cabinet resigns accessed 23 January 2008
  33. ^ a b "E' morto a 97 anni Arnaldo Forlani, pezzo di storia della Dc". La Stampa. 6 July 2023. Retrieved 6 July 2023.
  34. ^ "Bravo Forlani", dicono PCI e PRI
  35. ^ a b c "Addio ad Arnaldo Forlani, l'ultimo del Caf". Ansa. 8 July 2023.
  36. ^ 3rd parliamentary term
  37. ^ Eutanasia di un potere – Storia della politica d'Italia da Tangentopoli alla Seconda Repubblica
  38. ^ "Arnaldo Forlani: età, moglie, figli e biografia dell'ex segretario della DC". Tag 24. Università degli Studi Niccolò Cusano. 6 July 2023.
  39. ^ Arnaldo Forlani come Berlusconi, la decisione del governo: funerali di Stato e lutto nazionale per l'ex premier Dc. Open
  40. ^ Lutto nazionale e bandiere a mezz'asta per la scomparsa di Arnaldo Forlani (in Italian)
  41. ^ I funerali di Stato dell'ex segretario della DC Arnaldo Forlani – la diretta video (in Italian)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister of State Holdings
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Defence
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Italy
Succeeded by
Title last held by
Ugo La Malfa
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
Title next held by
Giuliano Amato
Party political offices
Preceded by Secretary of the Christian Democracy
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of the Christian Democracy
Succeeded by