Mariano Rumor

Aldo Moro Christian Democracy (Italy) Amintore Fanfani
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Mariano Rumor
Mariano Rumor daticamera.jpg
39th Prime Minister of Italy
In office
26 July 1973 – 23 November 1974
PresidentGiovanni Leone
Preceded byGiulio Andreotti
Succeeded byAldo Moro
In office
12 December 1968 – 6 August 1970
PresidentGiuseppe Saragat
Preceded byGiovanni Leone
Succeeded byEmilio Colombo
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
23 November 1974 – 29 July 1976
Prime MinisterAldo Moro
Preceded byAldo Moro
Succeeded byArnaldo Forlani
Minister of the Interior
In office
17 February 1972 – 7 July 1973
Prime MinisterGiulio Andreotti
Preceded byFranco Restivo
Succeeded byPaolo Emilio Taviani
In office
21 June 1963 – 4 December 1963
Prime MinisterGiovanni Leone
Preceded byPaolo Emilio Taviani
Succeeded byPaolo Emilio Taviani
Minister of Agriculture
In office
15 February 1959 – 21 June 1963
Prime MinisterAntonio Segni
Fernando Tambroni
Amintore Fanfani
Preceded byMario Ferrari Aggradi
Succeeded byBernardo Mattarella
Secretary of the Council of Ministers
In office
18 January 1954 – 10 February 1954
Prime MinisterAmintore Fanfani
Preceded byGiulio Andreotti
Succeeded byOscar Luigi Scalfaro
Secretary of the Christian Democracy
In office
January 1964 – January 1969
Preceded byAldo Moro
Succeeded byFlaminio Piccoli
Member of the Parliament
Member of the Senate of the Republic
In office
20 June 1979 – 22 January 1990
Member of the European Parliament
In office
17 July 1979 – 23 July 1984
ConstituencyNorth-East Italy
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
8 May 1948 – 19 June 1979
Member of the Constituent Assembly
In office
25 June 1946 – 31 January 1948
Personal details
Born(1915-06-16)16 June 1915
Vicenza, Veneto, Kingdom of Italy
Died22 January 1990(1990-01-22) (aged 74)
Vicenza, Veneto, Italy
Political partyChristian Democracy
Alma materUniversity of Padua

Mariano Rumor (Italian pronunciation: [maˈrjaːno ruˈmor]; 16 June 1915 – 22 January 1990) was an Italian politician and statesman. A member of the Christian Democracy (DC), he served as the 39th Prime Minister of Italy from December 1968 to August 1970 and again from July 1973 to November 1974.[1] As Prime Minister, he led five different governments, supported by various coalitions.[2]

Rumor also served as Minister of Agriculture from 1959 to 1963, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1974 to 1976 and Minister of the Interior in two brief periods, in 1963 and from 1972 to 1973. Rumor was also Secretary of the Christian Democracy from 1964 to 1969.[3]

Early life and career

Mariano Rumor was born in Vicenza, Veneto on 16 June 1915. His father, Giuseppe Rumor, was the owner of a typography and promoter of a local magazine, "The Catholic Worker" founded by Rumor's grandfather. While her mother, Tina Nardi, came from a liberal family.[4] He attended the classical lyceum Antonio Pigafetta in Vicenza, then he earned a degree from the University of Padua in literature in 1939.[5]

After his graduation, Rumor became a teacher at an Italian lyceum until his mobilization as a lieutenant in the Italian Army during the Second World War. Subsequent to the Armistice of Cassibile in 1943 between Italy and the Allied powers, Rumor joined the Italian resistance movement.[6] After the end of the war, he was among the founders of the Christian Associations of Italian Workers (ACLI),[7] the widespread lay Catholic associations, and joined the Christian Democracy (DC), of whom he became one of the main leaders in Veneto, very close to Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi.[8] In the 1946 election, Rumor was elected with more than 29,000 votes to the Constituent Assembly, for the constituency of Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo.[9][10]

He became a member of the new-born Chamber of Deputies in 1948. The 1948 election was heavily influenced by the Cold War confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, and are now best known for the covert political warfare waged by the US State Department and Central Intelligence Agency on behalf of the DC.[11][12] The elections were eventually won with a comfortable margin by De Gasperi's Christian Democracy that defeated the left-wing coalition of the Popular Democratic Front, that comprised the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the Italian Socialist Party (PSI).[13] As a deputy he became very close to Giuseppe Dossetti, becoming a member of his Christian leftist wing.[14]

Political career

First roles in government

Rumor in 1953

In 1950, Guido Gonella succeeded Paolo Emilio Taviani as National Secretary of the DC; the target of the new secretariat was to build a unitary management of the party in support of the government led by Alcide De Gasperi. In this context, Rumor was nominated for the first time as National Deputy Secretary, together with Dossetti.[15]

The withdrawal from politics of Giuseppe Dossetti, left his faction without a charismatic leader; however, Mariano Rumor played a decisive role in the birth of the new faction, called "Democratic Initiative", which brought together not only Dossetti's followers, such as Giorgio La Pira, Amintore Fanfani and Aldo Moro, but also members of the centrist pro-De Gasperi majority, as Paolo Emilio Taviani and Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.[16] Rumor himself presented the manifesto of Democratic Initiative, published on a magazine with the same name.[17] In this text, alongside the declaration of support for De Gasperi and the Atlantic Pact, Dossetti's principles of a Christian reformist party were reaffirmed, with the aim of moving the country towards a "democratic evolution".[18]

Rumor immediately played a leading role in the faction. This position, led him to hold the first government posts, becoming Undersecretary for Agriculture in De Gasperi's seventh government, a position he also maintained in De Gasperi VIII Cabinet and, after De Gasperi's retirement in 1954, in the short-lived government led by Giuseppe Pella.[19] In the brief first Fanfani government, from January to February 1954, Rumor was appointed to Secretary of the Council of Ministers.[20]

In 1954, after the National Congress of Naples, which saw the affirmation of Democratic Initiative and the subsequent election of Fanfani as party's Secretary, Rumor was elected again deputy secretary.[21] He held this office for the next five years, until Democratic Initiative split up. In fact, many members of the faction, started criticizing the political line of Fanfani's secretariat, who cautiously began to open to the prospect of a collaboration with Italian Socialist Party (PSI).[22] Prominent members of the faction, including Rumor himself, put the Secretary in minority during the National Congress of March 1959. In this way, Democratic Initiative split up between the followers of Fanfani and the dissident group, now renamed by all Dorotei ("Dorotheans"), from the place where they had gathered before the congress, the convent of the sisters of Santa Dorotea in Rome. The new faction was built around Antonio Segni, Mariano Rumor and Aldo Moro, who was elected new Secretary.[23]

In the same year, as one the faction's leaders, Rumor was appointment Minister of Agriculture, in the second Segni's government, a position he would keep in the governments of Fernando Tambroni, and Fanfani.[24] In this role, Rumor contributed to the definition of one of the first plans for the development and innovation of the national agricultural sector, the so-called "Green Plan".[25]

Rumor and Giovanni Leone visiting the site of the Vajont Dam disaster

In 1963 election, the DC suffered a sharp decline of consensus.[26] Rumor was appointed Minister of the Interior in the short-lived government chaired by Giovanni Leone.[27]

As minister, he had to face one of the most tragic events in Italian republican history, the Vajont Dam disaster.[28] On 9 October 1963, a landslide occurred on Monte Toc, in the province of Pordenone. The landslide caused a megatsunami in the artificial lake in which 50 million cubic metres of water overtopped the dam in a wave of 250 metres (820 ft), leading to the complete destruction of several villages and towns, and 1,917 deaths.[29] In the previous months, the Adriatic Society of Electricity (SADE) and the Italian government, which both owned the dam, dismissed evidence and concealed reports describing the geological instability of Monte Toc on the southern side of the basin and other early warning signs reported prior to the disaster.[30]

Immediately after the disaster, government and local authorities insisted on attributing the tragedy to an unexpected and unavoidable natural event. However, numerous warnings, signs of danger, and negative appraisals had been disregarded in the previous months and the eventual attempt to safely control the landslide into the lake by lowering its level came when the landslide was almost imminent and was too late to prevent it.[31] The communist newspaper L'Unità was the first to denounce the actions of management and government.[32][33]

Secretary of the Christian Democracy

Rumor during the 1967 Christian Democratic congress

In January 1964, Rumor was elected Secretary of the Christian Democracy, holding the office until January 1969 and leading the party in a complex phase of government cooperation with the socialists.[34] In the five years leading the DC, Rumor tried to reassure the moderate electorate, in an attempt to recover the consensus lost in the previous elections.[35]

Rumor embodied the typical characteristics of the Dorotheans: caution, moderation, the propensity for mediation rather than for decision, attention to practical and concrete topics, rather than to major strategies, the representation of the interests of the provincial middle class, the privileged link with the public administration, with the Catholic world and with direct farmers.[36] In the general elections of 1968, the DC managed to increase its votes, albeit slightly, gaining 39% of votes.[37] This result was experienced as a success by the Rumor secretariat and he became a natural candidate for the leadership of the government.

First term as Prime Minister

On 12 December 1968, Mariano Rumor sworn is as Prime Minister for the first time, leading a government composed by Christian democrats, Socialists and Republicans.[38]

During his first term as Prime Minister, a number of progressive reforms were carried out. A law of 11 December 1969 extended access to higher education to all students holding a higher secondary school diploma. It was formerly limited to students who came from classical, and in some cases, scientific, curricula. A bill, approved on 30 April 1969 introduced broad provisions covering pensions under the general scheme. The multiplying coefficient was increased to 1.85%, applied to average earnings of the best 3 years in the last 5 years of work (maximum pension, after 40 years of contribution: 74% of previous earnings). A social pension was also introduced for people over the age of 65 with low incomes and not eligible for any type of pension. In addition, cost of living indexation for all pensions (with the exception of social pensions) was introduced. A law of 2 February 1970 extended earnings replacement benefits to artisan undertakings in the construction industry.[39]

Mariano Rumor speaks to the Chamber of Deputies in 1970

In foreign policy, Rumor signed, on 28 January 1969, of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. However his first term as Prime Minister was deeply marked by the Piazza Fontana massacre, a terrorist attack that occurred on 12 December 1969 when a bomb exploded at the headquarters of National Agrarian Bank in Piazza Fontana, Milan, killing 17 people and wounding 88. In the same afternoon, three more bombs were detonated in Rome and Milan, and another was found unexploded.[40] The attack was planned by a neo-fascist group, Ordine Nuovo ("New Order"), whose aim was to prevent the country falling into the hands of the left-wing by duping the public into believing the bombings were part of a communist insurgency.[41]

During his first term, Rumor led three different governments. From December 1968 to July 1969, the DC joined with the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) as well as the Italian Republican Party (PRI). Then, from August 1969 to February 1970 he led a DC-only government; its collapse led to a 45-day long period without government, with issues such as Italian divorce law and the status of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) generating instability. After this period, which included an attempt by former Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani to form a government, Rumor led a new coalition with the Socialist, Republican, and Democratic Socialist parties from March until July 1970.[42]

Interior Minister and assassination attempt

An image of the 1973 Milan massacre, of which Rumor was considered the main target

In 1972, Rumor was appointed Minister of the Interior, in the government of Giulio Andreotti.[43]

In 1973, Rumor was the target of an assassination attempt, planned by Gianfranco Bertoli, a self-described anarchist. Four were killed during the bombing, and 45 injured, while Rumor escaped alive from it. Bertoli was given a life-term in 1975. Bertoli was an informant of SISMI, the "Military Intelligence and Security Service", at the time. Court proceedings later showed that this connection was one of mistaken identity.[44]

Second term as Prime Minister

After three years under Emilio Colombo and Giulio Andreotti's ministries, Rumor returned to the office of Prime Minister, first leading a coalition composed of Christian Democrats, Socialists, Republicans, and Democratic Socialists from July 1973 to March 1974. After this government collapsed, Rumor formed a new coalition within two weeks, calling upon the Socialists and Democratic Socialists to join with DC from March until October 1974.[45][46]

During his second term, the Parliament approved a law on 2 March 1974, with which legal minimum for pensions was raised to 27.75% of the average industrial wage for 1973. A law of 16 July 1974 extended family allowances to INPS pensioners, in lieu of child supplements. While a bill of August 1974 extended hospital assistance to all those not previously covered by any scheme.[47]

Weathering a cabinet resignation in June 1974, Rumor's final cabinet would fall in October 1974 after failing to come to an agreement on how to deal with rising economic inflation.[48][49]

After the premiership

Mariano Rumor in 1978

In November 1974, Rumor was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in Aldo Moro's fourth cabinet.[50]

During his ministry, he signed the Osimo Treaty with Yugoslavia, defining the official partition of the Free Territory of Trieste. The port city of Trieste with a narrow coastal strip to the north west (Zone A) was given to Italy; a portion of the north-western part of the Istrian peninsula (Zone B) was given to Yugoslavia.[51]

The Italian government was harshly criticized for signing the treaty, particularly for the secretive way in which negotiations were carried out, skipping the traditional diplomatic channels. Italian nationalists of the MSI rejected the idea of giving up Istria, since Istria had been an ancient "Italian" region together with the Venetian region (Venetia et Histria).[52] Furthermore, Istria had belonged to Italy for 25 years between World War I and the end of World War II, and the west coast of Istria had long had a sizeable Italian minority population.[53]

Some nationalist politicians called for the prosecution of Prime Minister Moro and Minister Rumor, for the crime of treason, as stated in Article 241 of the Italian Criminal Code, which mandated a life sentence for anybody found guilty of aiding and abetting a foreign power to exert its sovereignty on the national territory.[54]

The defeat in the 1975 regional elections led to the removal of Amintore Fanfani from the party secretariat. Rumor was proposed by Moro as the new party secretary, but he was vetoed by some members of his own faction. Due to this veto, Rumor abandoned the Dorotheans, approaching the positions of the new secretary Benigno Zaccagnini. Following the Dorotheans' split, Rumor was slowly excluded from relevant positions in the party and in the government.

In 1979, Mariano Rumor was elected in the European Parliament, where he later became Chair of the Political Affairs Committee in 1980, serving in that post until he left the European Parliament in 1984.[55]

Death and legacy

Rumor with the President of the Chamber, Nilde Iotti, in 1989

Rumor died of a heart attack in Vicenza on 22 January 1990 at the age of 74.[56]

In the years since his death, Rumor's legacy has been widely debated.[57] The Lockheed bribery scandals, of which Rumor was exonerated by the Italian Parliament, took place under his government and culminated in the trials of two former Defense ministers, Luigi Gui and Mario Tanassi.[58] Rumor was implicated in the scandal after a Lockheed codebook referenced "Antelope Cobbler" as "Prime Minister", which could have been any of Rumor, Aldo Moro, or then-President Giovanni Leone during the relevant time period.[59] While Leone later resigned from the Presidency due to accusations of corruption, none of the three men were ever convicted of being "Antelope Cobbler".[60][61][62]

Others have criticized his Presidential Decree No. 1092, a measure which allowed Italian governmental workers to retire after nineteen and a half years of work or fourteen and a half years if they were a woman; such retirees were later termed "baby pensioners" by detractors. The program, instituted in 1973, was terminated in 1992. As of 2014 it was estimated that around half a million pensioners who benefited from the decree were still drawing an average of €1,500 per month.[63]

Electoral history

Election House Constituency Party Votes Result
1946 Constituent Assembly Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo DC 29,213 ☑Y Elected
1948 Chamber of Deputies Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo DC 43,002 ☑Y Elected
1953 Chamber of Deputies Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo DC 49,576 ☑Y Elected
1958 Chamber of Deputies Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo DC 61,492 ☑Y Elected
1963 Chamber of Deputies Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo DC 93,735 ☑Y Elected
1968 Chamber of Deputies Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo DC 168,828 ☑Y Elected
1972 Chamber of Deputies Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo DC 266,710 ☑Y Elected
1976 Chamber of Deputies Verona–Padova–Vicenza–Rovigo DC 73,729 ☑Y Elected
1979 Senate of the Republic Vicenza DC 88,028 ☑Y Elected
1979 European Parliament North-East Italy DC 235,478 ☑Y Elected
1983 Senate of the Republic Vicenza DC 73,372 ☑Y Elected
1987 Senate of the Republic Vicenza DC 81,348 ☑Y Elected


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