Italian minister defies vote and refuses to quit
Friday 20 October 1995
Italy's Justice Minister, Filippo Mancuso, whose attacks on anti-corruption magistrates have alienated public opinion, brought the temperature of political debate to boiling point yesterday when he refused to resign, despite losing a confidence vote in the Senate.
The 74-year-old career jurist caused turmoil in the upper house by inveighing against President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro and the Prime Minister, Lamberto Dini, accusing them of conspiring to protect the magistrates at all costs.
His speech split the political spectrum in two, with the conservative coalition of the former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, cheering him on and the centre-left outraged about what they saw as smears.
The vote against Mr Mancuso was carried by 173 votes to three, but left the country in an impasse, as the constitution makes it virtually impossible to remove ministers. Either the government must now resign or President Scalfaro will have to remove Mr Mancuso from office. Either course could precipitate early elections.
After the vote, Mr Berlusconi said he would try to topple the government by presenting a no-confidence motion.
The Mancuso affair has forced Italians to decide whether the anti-corruption drive that toppled the old political order in Italy was an attempt to clean up public life, or a kind of coup to serve specific political interests.
The debate has been sharpened by Mr Berlusconi's own experience. Accused of bribing tax inspectors investigating his Fininvest business empire, he has been ordered to stand trial next January - a trial he describes as a witch-hunt to prevent him from returning to the prime minister's office.
Mr Mancuso has his own reasons for despising the judiciary. He believes the "Clean Hands" anti-corruption team in Milan has extracted confessions under duress and has leaked key documents to the press, abusing confidentiality.
Yesterday he contended that President Scalfaro had pressured him into halting inspections into the work of the Milan magistrates. Mr Mancuso also accused Mr Dini of bad faith by first going along with his policies and then withdrawing support. Mr Dini did not attend the confidence debate, but said he would not respond to such "provocations".
He accused Mr Mancuso of failing to respect the collegiality of the government. Mr Mancuso's main failing is his approach. Instead of trying to reform the system, he has tried to punish individual magistrates - unsuccessfully, as his inspection teams keep absolving them of wrong- doing. And, instead of working with the government, he has denounced Mr Dini as "servile". Now he has been discredited but he still refuses to resign. He has become a one-man embarrassment to Italian democracy, eloquent proof that the system still needs reform.
- 1 I was a Woman Against Feminism too
- 2 Fifty Shades of Grey movie trailer released: First look at Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey
- 3 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 The Tory donor whose firm is one of Britain’s biggest tax avoiders - with HMRC's blessing
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned
Peaches Geldof: Her final day – and her fatal decision
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israel may have committed war crimes, says UN human rights chief
Taiwan plane crash: Typhoon Matmo could have caused TransAsia Airways disaster, airline suspects
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...
£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...
£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...