Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Moro, Aldo (1916–1978)

Italian Christian Democratic Party (DC) politician and prime minister (1963–1968, 1974–1976). Born on 23 September 1916 in Maglie, Italy, Aldo Moro attended the Archita High School in Taranto and in 1938 earned a degree in law from Bari University. The following year he was named president of the Catholic student organization Federazione Universitaria Cattolica Italiana (FUCI), which he headed until 1942. In 1941 he began teaching law and politics at Bari University.

Moro was active from an early age in the DC and in 1946 was elected to the Constitutional Assembly, helping to draft Italy's new constitution. In the April 1948 elections he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies and served as undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry during 1948–1950. In 1955 he was named minister of justice, a post he held until 1957. During 1957–1958 he served as minister of education, and in 1959 he was elected secretary of the DC, the most powerful position in the party. At the same time, he continued his university career, receiving an appointment at the Rome University in 1964 to teach law and penal procedures.

In November 1963 Moro became prime minister, forming a coalition government with the Socialist Party. He led two other governments until 1968, a remarkably long tenure by Italian standards. During 1970–1972 and again during 1973–1974, he was foreign minister, returning to lead yet two more governments during 1974–1976 (his fourth and fifth).

As foreign minister, Moro was particularly active in promoting the settlement of pending disputes with Yugoslavia and Ethiopia and was also committed to European integration. While heading his fourth government, he was also rotating president of the European Community (EC) and as such signed the Helsinki Final Act. He pursued a balanced policy between the Arab countries and the West, hoping that Italy might avoid becoming a battleground for terrorism from outside. In his domestic policies, he favored the inclusion of the growing Italian Communist Party (PCI) in the government.

As Italy was rocked by terrorism from both the extreme Right and Left, Moro lent his name to another short-lived government from February to April 1976. That July, he was elected president of the DC. On 16 March 1978, on his way to parliament, he was kidnapped by the terrorist organization Brigate Rosse (Red Brigades). After fifty-four days in the Red Brigades' so-called people's prison, during which time Moro wrote several letters and a long memorandum, members of the Red Brigades executed him on 9 May when negotiations between them and the Italian government collapsed. Moro's body was found in an automobile in Rome.

Alessandro Massignani


Further Reading
Ginsberg, Paul. A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943–1988. New York: Penguin, 1990.
 

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