Francesco Cossiga
Francesco Cossiga was an Italian politician, the 43rd Prime Minister
Prime minister of Italy
The Prime Minister of Italy is the head of government of the Italian Republic...

 and the eighth President of the Italian Republic. He was also a professor of constitutional law
Constitutional law
Constitutional law is the body of law which defines the relationship of different entities within a state, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary....

 at the University of Sassari
University of Sassari
The University of Sassari is a university located in Sassari, Italy. It was founded in 1562 and is organized in 11 Faculties.The University of Sassari gains the first place in the ranking for the best “medium- sized” italian university, in 2009, by the Censis Research Institute.-History and...


Cossiga was born in Sassari
Sassari is an Italian city. It is the second-largest city of Sardinia in terms of population with about 130,000 inhabitants, or about 300,000 including the greater metropolitan area...

 in the north of Sardinia
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea . It is an autonomous region of Italy, and the nearest land masses are the French island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia and the Spanish Balearic Islands.The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard[],...

. He started his political career during World War II. His name is now usually pronounced kosˈsiːɡa, but it was originally pronounced ˈkɔssiɡa, with the stress on the first syllable, meaning "Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

". He was the cousin of Enrico Berlinguer
Enrico Berlinguer
Enrico Berlinguer was an Italian politician; he was national secretary of the Italian Communist Party from 1972 until his death.-Early career:...


Minister for the Christian-Democracy

He was a minister several times for the Democrazia Cristiana party (DC), notably during his stay at Viminale (Ministry for internal affairs) where he re-structured the Italian police, civil protection and secret services. In 1977, when Cossiga was minister of internal affairs, police squads organized by Cossiga shot against a demonstration in Rome, killing student Giorgiana Masi. Cossiga for many years stated that she was killed by her companions.

He was in-charge during the kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

 and murder of Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro
Aldo Moro was an Italian politician and the 39th Prime Minister of Italy, from 1963 to 1968, and then from 1974 to 1976. He was one of Italy's longest-serving post-war Prime Ministers, holding power for a combined total of more than six years....

 by Red Brigades
Red Brigades
The Red Brigades was a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organisation, based in Italy, which was responsible for numerous violent incidents, assassinations, and robberies during the so-called "Years of Lead"...

, and he resigned when Moro was found dead in 1978. According to Italian journalist Enrico Deaglio
Enrico Deaglio
-Biography:Deaglio was born in Turin, where he graduated in medicine and worked in the Mauriziano Hospital.In the mid-1970s, he started his journalist career for the communist newspaper Lotta continua, of which he was director from 1977 to 1982...

, Cossiga to justify his lack of action "accused the leaders of CGIL and of the Italian Communist Party
Italian Communist Party
The Italian Communist Party was a communist political party in Italy.The PCI was founded as Communist Party of Italy on 21 January 1921 in Livorno, by seceding from the Italian Socialist Party . Amadeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci led the split. Outlawed during the Fascist regime, the party played...

 to know the location where Moro was detained". Cossiga was also minister of internal affairs when Fascist terrorists bombed Bologna station in 1980. He initially declared that it was a Fascist attack, but he later stated it was a Palestinian transport of weapons which went wrong. He also supported the innocence of Giusva Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, who were later condemned for the bombing and for numerous murders, declaring: "They are good guys and they want me well."

During the early 1980s, Cossiga attacked several times the antimafia judges and spoke in favour of judge Corrado Carnevale
Corrado Carnevale
Corrado Carnevale is an Italian judge, currently member of the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation. He became famous because of the large number of Mafia cases overturned in the Appeal Court where he was president, because of his involvement in some of the worst corruption scandals in the history...

, a member of the Corte di Cassazione (Italy's supreme court) who had annulled numerous sentences against mafia leaders and was later tried for these actions.

Cossiga was elected President of the Italian Senate 1983, a position he held until 1985, when he became the President of Italy.

Election as President of Italy

Following his resignation as president of the Senate in 1985, Cossiga was elected President of Italy (Head of State). This was the first time a candidate had won following the first ballot (where a majority of over two thirds is necessary).

It was not until his last two years as President that Cossiga began to express some unusual opinions regarding the Italian political system. He opined that the Italian parties, especially the DC (his own party) and Italian Communist Party
Italian Communist Party
The Italian Communist Party was a communist political party in Italy.The PCI was founded as Communist Party of Italy on 21 January 1921 in Livorno, by seceding from the Italian Socialist Party . Amadeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci led the split. Outlawed during the Fascist regime, the party played...

, had to take into account the deep changes brought about by the fall of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 and the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...


These statements, soon dubbed "esternazioni", or "mattock
A mattock is a versatile hand tool, used for digging and chopping, similar to the pickaxe. It has a long handle, and a stout head, which combines an axe blade and an adze or a pick and an adze .-Description:...

 blows" (picconate), were considered by many to be inappropriate for a President and, often, beyond his constitutional powers; also, his mental health was doubted and Cossiga had to declare "I am the fake madman who speaks the truth."

Tension developed between Cossiga and the President of the Council of Ministers Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti
Giulio Andreotti is an Italian politician of the now dissolved centrist Christian Democracy party. He served as the 42nd Prime Minister of Italy from 1972 to 1973, from 1976 to 1979 and from 1989 to 1992. He also served as Minister of the Interior , Defense Minister and Foreign Minister and he...

. This tension emerged when Andreotti revealed the existence of Gladio, a stay-behind
In a stay-behind operation, a country places secret operatives or organisations in its own territory, for use in the event that the territory is overrun by an enemy. If this occurs, the operatives would then form the basis of a resistance movement, or would act as spies from behind enemy lines...

 organization with the official aim of countering a possible Soviet invasion through sabotage and guerrilla warfare behind enemy lines. Cossiga announced his involvement in the establishment of the organization. The Democratic Party of the Left
Democratic Party of the Left
The Democratic Party of the Left was a post-communist, democratic socialist political party in Italy.-History:...

 (successor to the Communist Party) started the procedure of impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 (Presidents of Italy can be impeached only for high treason
High treason
High treason is criminal disloyalty to one's government. Participating in a war against one's native country, attempting to overthrow its government, spying on its military, its diplomats, or its secret services for a hostile and foreign power, or attempting to kill its head of state are perhaps...

 against the State or for an attempt
Attempt was originally an offence under the common law of England.Attempt crimes are crimes where the defendant's actions have the form of the actual enaction of the crime itself: the actions must go beyond mere preparation....

 to overthrow the Constitution
Constitution of Italy
The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 December 1947, with 453 votes in favour and 62 against. The text, which has since been amended 13 times, was promulgated in the extraordinary edition of Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 298 on 27 December 1947...

). Although he threatened to prevent the impeachment procedure by dissolving Parliament, the impeachment request was ultimately dismissed.

Cossiga resigned two months before the end of his term, on 1992.

Life senator

According to the Italian Constitution, after his resignation from the office of President, Cossiga became lifetime senator
Senator for life
A senator for life is a member of the senate or equivalent upper chamber of a legislature who has life tenure. , 7 Italian Senators out of 322, 4 out of the 47 Burundian Senators and all members of the British House of Lords have lifetime tenure...

, joining his predecessors in the upper house of parliament, with whom he also shared the title of President Emeritus of the Italian Republic.

In February 1998, Cossiga created the Unione Democratica per la Repubblica
Democratic Union for the Republic
The Democratic Union for the Republic was a short-lived centrist political party in Italy.It was founded in February 1998 by Francesco Cossiga, Clemente Mastella , Rocco Buttiglione , Mario Segni The Democratic Union for the Republic (Unione Democratica per la Repubblica, UDR) was a short-lived...

 (a political party), declaring it to be politically central. The UDR was a crucial component of the majority that supported the D'Alema
Massimo D'Alema
Massimo D'Alema is an Italian politician. He is also a journalist and a former national secretary of the Democratic Party of the Left...

 government in October 1998, after the fall of the Prodi
Romano Prodi
Romano Prodi is an Italian politician and statesman. He served as the Prime Minister of Italy, from 17 May 1996 to 21 October 1998 and from 17 May 2006 to 8 May 2008...

 government which lost a vote of confidence.

Cossiga declared that his support for D'Alema was intended to end the conventional exclusion of the former Communist Party
Italian Communist Party
The Italian Communist Party was a communist political party in Italy.The PCI was founded as Communist Party of Italy on 21 January 1921 in Livorno, by seceding from the Italian Socialist Party . Amadeo Bordiga and Antonio Gramsci led the split. Outlawed during the Fascist regime, the party played...

 (PCI) leaders from the premiership in Italy.

In 1999 UDR was dissolved and Cossiga returned to his activities as a senator, with competences in the Military Affairs' Commission.

In May 2006 he brought in a bill that would allow the region of South Tyrol
South Tyrol
South Tyrol , also known by its Italian name Alto Adige, is an autonomous province in northern Italy. It is one of the two autonomous provinces that make up the autonomous region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. The province has an area of and a total population of more than 500,000 inhabitants...

 to hold a referendum, where the local electorate could decide whether to remain within the Republic of Italy, take independence, or become part of Austria again.

On 27 November 2006, he resigned from his position as a lifetime senator. His resignation was, however, rejected on 2007 by a vote of the Senate.

Cossiga died on 17 August 2010 because of respiratory problems.

Controversial statements

In 2007, in a statement published by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera
Corriere della Sera
The Corriere della Sera is an Italian daily newspaper, published in Milan.It is among the oldest and most reputable Italian newspapers. Its main rivals are Rome's La Repubblica and Turin's La Stampa.- History :...

, Cossiga commented on the 11 September attacks and on a video attributed to Osama Bin Laden 2001. He wrote that "all of the democratic circles of America and of Europe, especially those of the Italian centre-left, now know well that the disastrous attack was planned and realized by the American CIA and Mossad with the help of the Zionist world to place the blame on Arabic countries and to persuade the Western powers to intervene in Iraq and Afghanistan". However Cossiga had also stated in 2006 that he sees 9/11 conspiracy theories as impossible and indeed purely ideologically motivated, claiming that he was being ironic when he commented on 9/11 – though this did not stop that comment circulating all over the internet.

In the same statement, Cossiga claimed that a video tape circulated by Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

's al Qaeda and containing threats against Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi , also known as Il Cavaliere – from knighthood to the Order of Merit for Labour which he received in 1977 – is an Italian politician and businessman who served three terms as Prime Minister of Italy, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the...

 was "produced in the studios of Mediaset
Mediaset S.p.A., known as Gruppo Mediaset in Italian, is an Italian-based media company which is the largest commercial broadcaster in the country...

 in Milan" and forwarded to the "Islamist Al-Jazeera television network." The purpose of that video tape (which was actually an audio tape) was to raise "a wave of solidarity to Berlusconi" who was, at the time, facing political difficutlies.

Honours and awards

As President of the Republic, Cossiga was Head (and also Knight Grand Cross with Grand Cordon) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
The Order of Merit of the Italian Republic was founded as the senior order of knighthood by the second President of the Italian Republic, Luigi Einaudi in 1951...

 (from 3 July 1985 to 28 April 1992), Military Order of Italy
Military Order of Italy
The Military Order of Italy is the highest military order of the Italian Republic and the former Kingdom of Italy. It was founded as the Military Order of Savoy, a national order by the King of Sardinia, Vittorio Emanuele I, Duke of Savoy in 1815...

, Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity
Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity
The Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity was founded as national order by the first President of the Italian Republic, Enrico De Nicola, in 1947, to recognise civilian and military expatriates or foreigners who made an outstanding contribution to the reconstruction of Italy after World War...

, Order of Merit for Labour
Order of Merit for Labour
The Order of Merit for Labour was founded as national order of chivalry in 1923 by King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy; it is awarded to those "who have been singularly meritorious" in agriculture, industry and commerce, crafts, lending and insurance. It is a continuation of the earlier Ordine al...

 and Order of Vittorio Veneto
Order of Vittorio Veneto
The military Order of Vittorio Veneto was founded as national order by the fifth President of the Italian Republic, Giuseppe Saragat, in 1968, "to express the gratitude of the nation" to those decorated with the Medaglia e Croce di Guerra al Valor Militare who had fought for at least six months in...

 and Grand Cross of Merit of the Italian Red Cross
Italian Red Cross
The Italian Red Cross is the Italian national Red Cross society that has its origin in the Comitato dell'Associazione Italiana per il soccorso ai feriti ed ai malati in guerra that was formed in Florence in 1863, and in Milan on June 15, 1864. Other committees were formed later...

. He has also been bestowed honours and awards by other countries.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.