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On This Day May 26 1981: Italian government resigns

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On This Day May 26

1981: Italian government resigns

Italian prime minister Arnaldo Forlani
The scandal over the P2 lodge is thought to involve many eminent figures

In Context

Up to 1,000 names were found on lists of alleged members of P2, including eminent figures from Italian public life.

Among those identified were leading members of the armed forces, civil servants, top bankers, industrialists and newspaper editors. Many denied that they were members of the lodge.

The documents were discovered in the home of the Grand Master of the Lodge, Licio Gelli. A warrant was issued by Interpol for his arrest on charges of espionage.

All members of P2 swore allegiance to Gelli, who fled abroad during investigations into allegations of involvement in a petroleum tax evasion scandal in 1980. He was believed to be hiding in Uruguay.

The lodge was believed to have been an exclusive old boy network which Italian authorities claimed enabled members to carry out illegal activities.

In the wake of the scandal, a police chief shot himself and a former minister was rushed to hospital after reportedly swallowing barbiturates.

Licio Gelli gave himself up in 1987 and was found guilty of fraud arising from the 1982 collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano, which had close ties to the Vatican.

He was convicted of corruption for his part in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal and was extradited from France to begin a 12-year prison sentence in his native Italy.

Investigations into P2 have failed to prove the lodge conspired with right-wing extremists and the Mafia to destabilise Italy through bombings and violence.

The Italian cabinet has resigned following the scandal over the alleged activities of a secret Masonic Lodge.

The collapse of Arnaldo Forlani's coalition government looked imminent after his Socialist allies boycotted a meeting called by the prime minister.

The Italian Communist Party had said it would call for a no-confidence vote in parliament unless the government resigned over revelations that several prominent politicians were members of the P2 (Propaganda Two) Masonic Lodge.

The Minister of Justice Adolfo Sarti resigned last week amid allegations that he had applied for admission to the lodge.

Senator Sarti has denied he made any attempt to join P2 and, in a letter to the prime minister, said he had been forced out of government because his name was tainted in a "slanderous campaign".

'Secret society'

Two other ministers and 30 MPs have been included in a list of alleged members of P2, which is now under investigation.

P2 is one of more than 520 Masonic lodges which belong to the Grand Orient of Italy, the principal Masonic organisation in the country.

The lodge has been described as "a state within a state" amid allegations that it plotted to carry out a right-wing coup in Italy.

A three-man commission appointed by the government has been set up to establish whether the lodge was a "secret society" of a type banned under the constitution.

Prime Minister Forlani has met with President Sandro Pertini to submit the resignation of the cabinet following a meeting with his ministers earlier in the day.

The Cabinet session took longer than normal because urgent economic decrees had to be approved first.

The prime minister thanked his ministers for their work before driving to the presidential palace.

Flaminio Piccoli, secretary of the Christian Democrats, said: "Membership of the party and adherence to the Freemasons cannot be other than incompatible."

Freemasonry is not illegal in Italy and there are believed to be up to 200,000 members.

However, it is associated with anti-Roman Catholic Church activities and Pope John Paul II has explicitly condemned the secret society.

Further Reading:

Ancient Landmarks

Freemasonry in Italy

UK Freemasonry in the News, have the 'Brethren' finally met their Waterloo?

Roberto Calvi Murder/P2 Conspiracy Indepth - St. Peter's Squared