99. Intelligence Information Cable1

[document number not declassified]


  • Italy


  • [date not declassified]
[Page 195]


  • Views of Senior Italian [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] on the Present Political Situation


  • [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]


  • [1 document number not declassified] and AmEmbRome airgram A-1641, 26 May 19642


  • [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]senior Italian [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] whose opinions, we believe, reflect fairly well the opinions generally prevailing within a wide segment of the Italian [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] and whose views on occasions have been [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]given limited distribution at high levels of the Italian Government [1 line of source text not declassified] Appraisal—2, that the views of the Italian [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] are accurately reported, and that these views reflect opinions probably generally prevailing in the Italian [1 line of source text not declassified]
  • [1 paragraph (2 lines of source text) not declassified]
The present economic and political situation is serious and whatever left-center formula is adopted, it will inevitably fail. The only solution will be an eventual overthrow of the present coalition government. There will be various attempts to form compromise governments (for example, Amintore Fanfani might be asked to form a new government), but these will be only temporizing measures and in fact will lead to further deterioration of the political situation.
Lamentably, the present political dilemma has been caused by the unwillingness in the past of the Christian Democratic Party (DC) to take effective action against the leftist forces and to resolve the social-economic problems which confronted Italy. An error commonly made by anti-Communist forces is to seek perfect solutions to counter the Communists in resolving political/economic problems. Greater progress will be achieved by countering or neutralizing the Italian Communist Party (PCI) on the specific issues which they project. Admittedly, however, it is now rather late in the game to adopt such measures; for this reason, the only lasting solution will come when the center forces decide to take bold action by reversing the present trend and returning to a center-liberal democratic government. Such eventuality would probably bring the battle to the piazza (into the streets) and result in some bloodshed. In the final analysis, however, such action may [Page 196] represent the only realistic means of extricating the Italians from the present creeping paralysis.
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] contended that the Italian populace is ripe for such a turn of events; the people are disenchanted and have little confidence in any of the present political leaders. What the people are looking for is the “white hope” who will lead them out of their present dilemma. In responding to a query as to who might qualify as such a leader, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that one would have to be created; as long as he represented a public image and was not compromised, the public would rally around him.
As for the role that would fall to the security forces which would have to maintain public order, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] indicated that General Giovanni De Lorenzo, Commandant of the Carabinieri Corps, represented the only force around whom the Italian security forces could rally. It was for this reason that General de Lorenzo had organized mobile task force battalions which could go into action in the event of a political emergency. The Italian officer said that General De Lorenzo did not intend to exceed his authority, but that he intended to control the military force which would neutralize any attempt at leftist pressure on the piazza, and that he would act as “king maker” in the event of a political overthrow. In this connection, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] noted that De Lorenzo has developed a direct relationship with President Antonio Segni and had won the latter’s confidence. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] also commented that President Segni represents the only viable political figure in terms of public backing and constitutional authority, and that in a political emergency the current political personalities would fade rapidly.
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] iterated his view that the political situation would eventually be resolved in the piazza. He described the Italian public as bewitched by the leftist influences in Italy, and particularly by the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) which he branded as worse than the PCI because it projected the party as being “social-democratic” and was in a position to mislead non-Communist elements. Recognizing that individually there are well-intentioned PSI types, he said they had no important influence on major political or party issues. He termed Riccardo Lombardi as an effective leader of PSI forces and said it was quite clear where Lombardi’s sympathies lay. The Italian officer felt it was time to break the spell on the Italian public—something which could be done only by eliminating all the forces and political personalities who have brought Italy to its present critical situation. This, he said, in turn could come about only by creating a fresh public image even at the risk of deciding the issue on the piazza—a [Page 197] public image which could return Italy to truly democratic ways and restore vitality and confidence in the country’s faltering, financial/commercial structure.
Later on the same day [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] the above views were discussed with [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]who said that he concurred in them. In this connection this senior officer referred to an article in the 28 May 1964 issue of Il Borghese (a rightist periodical) written by Giani Preda entitled, “L’Ora Del ‘Matto’” which promotes the idea that somewhere in Italy there is someone now unknown who will come to the fore and lead Italy out of its present dilemma. This senior officer suggested that for lack of other candidates for this part, it might still fall upon General de Lorenzo to fill this role, albeit temporarily, in a political crisis. This officer added that de Lorenzo probably did not harbor such ambitions, but was willing to play the role of “king maker”, the “king” to be selected by responsible political forces. This [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] officer also said that De Lorenzo enjoyed the confidence of President Segni and that Segni represented the only political force who could rally the Italians beyond strictly political considerations. In addition, this officer also spoke highly of Treasury Minister Emilio Colombo saying that Colombo had the courage to challenge social pressures for concessions which could lead only to a further deterioration of the economic and political situation.
[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] concluded by expressing hope that the present political situation may be resolved without going to the piazza, but doubted that it could be resolved by reforming it along center-left lines or by calling for new elections. Eventually, he said, a center type government would have to be instituted and leftist reaction on the piazza would have to be met with a show of force—something which General De Lorenzo was ready to provide if necessary.
Field dissem: none.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Italy, Vol. 1. Secret; Priority; No Foreign Dissem; Controlled Dissem; No Dissem Abroad; Background Use Only. Sent to the State Department, ACSI, Navy Department, AFCIN, DIA, and NSA.
  2. Documents 95 and 96.