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Tangentopoli (bribe city)

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


A name applied to Milan in the late 1980s but which referred more generally to the pervasive corruption in Italy since the Second World War. Bribery permeated every level of society. Shopkeepers bribed tax collectors, patients bribed doctors to obtain bogus certificates which would qualify them for disability pensions (four million Italians out of a population of 58 million obtained such pensions): bribes were needed even to get a telephone installed. State‐controlled industries and development funds were a valuable source of patronage. No contracts were signed for public works without substantial bribes ( tangenti ) to the politicians concerned. Carlo Di Benedetti, the head of Olivetti, admitted paying billions of lira in bribes because of ‘the systematic extortion imposed on the business community by Italy's political parties’. christian democratic party (DC) politicians were the main beneficiaries of such a system, as they dominated postwar governments. Other parties joined in. The Socialist Party (PCI) was a junior partner in most governments after 1963. Its cabinet members demanded bribes before acting to save Venice from flooding and took millions of dollars from relief funds for Bangladesh, Somalia and Senegal. There was consternation too at the way European Union funds for the relief of poverty disappeared into the pockets of Italian politicians and how common agricultural ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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