In an exclusive interview with Ciriaco Viggiano, Raffaele Lauro tracks a political, institutional and human profile of Vincenzo Scotti, from his educational formation after World War II to the present day. Due to its content, it is a historical document on a dramatic phase of Italian political history, which ended the so-called "First Republic".

1- At the turn of the eighties and the nineties, Naples could boast of first class politicians such as Gava, Scotti, Pomicino, Di Donato, Galasso and De Lorenzo: how do you explain this centrality of Naples in Italian politics?

Ever since World War II, Campania has provided the Democratic Republic with leaders of high intellectual, political and social profile at the highest levels of State administration, within the leadership of democratic parties and in constitutional institutions. Enough to mention for example Enrico De Nicola, Giovanni Leone, Silvio Gava and, last but not least, Francesco Compagna, the founder of "North and South", student of Benedetto Croce and Gaetano Salvemini, along with Vittorio De Caprariis and the very Giuseppe Galasso, without forgetting the "Avellino school" of Fiorentino Sullo, Ciriaco De Mita and Gerardo Bianco, whose roots date back to the liberal personalities of the pre-Giolitti and Giolitti age, such as Francesco De Sanctis. Naples, the capital of the South, after the conquest of the town by the shipowner Achille Lauro, became, in its universities, editorial offices, trade unions and parties, including the Communist Party, which boasted of fine national leaders, like Giorgio Amendola and Giorgio Napolitano, a political laboratory, a source of discussions, meetings, ideas, projects and political commitment for many young Democrats, who wanted to prepare for the end of laurism, also to demolish the electoral presence of monarchical right wing and post-fascism nostalgia among the common people. In order to achieve this, we he had to siege with ideas the strongholds of the Laurian populism: the newspaper, the football team, the fleet and the electoral clientelism. In this climate, the Neapolitan and national political scene, supported by family, union, professional or academic legacies, welcomed personalities such as Gava, Scotti, Pomicino, Di Donato, Galasso and De Lorenzo.

2- Scotti was nicknamed "Tarzan" for his ability to jump from one task to another, both in the party and in the government. He assumed the roles of Minister of Labour, Culture, Civil Defence, Foreign Affairs and, above all, of the Minister of the Interior. Did these roles result from political dynamics or were they attributed to Scotti's human, political and administrative qualities? In the latter case, what made him suitable to hold such prestigious offices?

Scotti, a pupil of Giulio Pastore, grew up in the fertile climate, first of the Catholic youth of Carlo Carretto and Mario Rossi, and then of the reborn new union. He was a researcher of the Southern Question and of policy development in depressed areas. Young Scotti became the general secretary of the Committee of Ministers for the South (the president of which was Pastore), who collaborated with famous Southerners, such as Pasquale Saraceno, Manlio Rossi Doria, Francesco Compagna, Giuseppe De Rita, Giovanni Marongiu, Paolo Sylos Labini, Sergio Zoppi, Massimo Annesi and others. He also became a friend of Carlo Levi at Palazzo Altieri. Those years, in the opinion of experts, were the most intense and innovative attempt to address the issue of the South in a comprehensive way. In the years of 1953 - 1954 Scotti, along with Carlo Carretto and Mario Rossi, was a member of the GIAC (Italian Youth of Catholic Action) in Rome in Via della Conciliazione, living an extraordinary experience of renewal together with Umberto Eco, Michele La Calamita, Don Arturo Paoli, Emanuele Milano, Pietro Fanner, Wladimiro Dorigo, Dino De Poli and many other young Catholics. In April 1954, the experience of the movements of GIAC was blocked by a Vatican intervention. Apart from Pastore, Scotti had two other great masters: Mario Romani and Vincenzo Saba. When Scotti was invited to run for parliament, he had all the intellectual and managerial qualities, as one of a few members of the CD, to be able cover different local and central government roles entrusted to him, bringing everywhere competence, innovation and overcoming of conservatism, especially in the area of employment, cultural development, national security and fight against organized crime. Right from the outset, more than a party man he was a man of government, and he proved it in every position he held, without fear of challenging business lobbies, parasitic economic interests and strong powers, including the latent ones. The party for him was a tool and not a goal, so he didn't feel locked in an ideological cage inside and outside the party itself, and he favoured a dialogue with everyone. A kind of pragmatism before its time, the result of realistic considerations and scientific analysis of reality, which for more internal than external opponents could easily appear as an obvious search for power and alliances to gain power in the jungle of present Christian-democratic currents. Despite those allegations of journalistic origin, in every assignment that he was given for his intellectual, political, managerial and human qualities, he obtained a positive outcome.

3-What were the most important results of Scotti's political-administrative activity as Minister of the Interior?

The unification and modernization of the institutional and legislative instruments for the fight against the Mafia and all organized crime, including economic crime, according to the doctrine of Giovanni Falcone. The establishment of the DIA. The law on the dissolution of municipal councils, corrupted by the Mafia. Major innovations in criminal law and proceedings for the fight against the Mafia, up to the legislative decree of June 1992, after the killing of Falcone: the decree known for the introduction of the so-called 41 bis article on the prison regime for Mafia members. The intuition of actual coordination between police forces, structured at least on a regional basis, and the establishment of the General Secretariat of the Interior Ministry. The rejuvenation of the prefectural caste, with the appointment of the first female prefects and frequent rotation of prefectural offices, both in the ministry and in the prefectures. A modern immigration policy aiming for the creation of selection institutions in the countries of origin, accompanied by economic aid and the simultaneous, vigorous deterrence of illegal immigration in the hands of crime, with the spectacular air deportation of 24,000 Albanians in August 1991, who had arrived to the port of Bari after the stampede from the prisons of Tirana. The project to create a public communications network, an information highway, on which to build the computerised grid of Regions and Local Authorities. This would have saved billions of public financial resources. Another important and innovative contribution came from Scotti as Minister of Labour, on the subject of labour policies. As recalled by the very Andreotti, Scotti was chosen for a Minister by Moro and Andreotti, in the government of national solidarity, for his relationship with the unions in a difficult economic situation. He reached an agreement on pension reform, which if then approved (unfortunately it was blocked by corporate resistance) would have advanced the agreements of Dini and Ciampi by twenty years. Then, in 1983, he developed the famous Lodo Scotti, which represented the first major triangular agreement of conciliation with regard to welfare. Also, a mark left by Scotti as Minister of Culture, who anticipated a decisive common heritage conservation policy, such as tax relief for the benefit of private individuals, who maintain the heritage of art. It was important therefore to convene the First Conference of European Ministers of Culture in Villa Rosebery in Naples, whilst there were no provisions at all for the intervention in the protection of artistic heritage in Europe. And the project regarding tourist-cultural routes of the South, intensely worked on by Italian and international scholars, including great curators of some of the largest museums in the world. International cooperation was the most important lever of change, as wrote the great art historian Giulio Carlo Argan.

4- What memories do you have of the years at the Interior Ministry alongside Scotti? 

Tragic memories (due to the Mafia massacres!) and beautiful ones too, full of courageous fervour in the fight against the Mafia, to the point of being unconscious and no longer being able distinguish between day and night; the European Semester chaired for safety by Scotti; the UN conference in Berlin; bilateral relations with the US; the party for the appointment of the first female prefects; the first multimedia anti-Mafia campaign headed by Maurizio Costanzo and Maria De Filippi; the "Requiem" by Mozart in Vienna directed by Claudio Abbado and the commotion of Scotti during that performance. So many initiatives, so much danger fortunately avoided! So many projects wiped out by bad faith, personal interests and ignorance.

5- Scotti has always been seen as a powerful man, like Antonio Gava. Was he really? How far did his power extended and what it consisted in?

If by power you intend the power of electoral clientèle at the municipal, provincial and regional level, Scotti was a true beginner in that area. Competence remained his criterion also for appointment of offices. He loved to say, a competent person remains true at least to values, rather than to people; a person, who's only faithful, but ignorant, betrays you with the highest bidder. In the electoral campaign, as a result of the policies of 1992, he had the audacity to submit to the immediate dissolution of some councils of his constituency in the province of Naples, the ones politically close to CD. He did not flinch, nor asked me for referrals. He stood his ground and replied to me laconically: "Prefect, prepare the papers for the next Council of Ministers". A legend, unforgettable! In the sense of the State, nowadays extremely rare! He also dissolved the common of Poggiomarino with a CD/PCI coalition and wanted to go along with Gerardo Chiaromonte, president of the Anti-Mafia Commission, to answer questions from citizens during a fiery assembly.

6- The chronicles speak of a subsequent clash between Scotti and Gava: what were the reasons for those differences?

Journalist fibs. In the last stage of the office of Gava, there was a convergent agreement, of which I was a witness in person, first about the so-called "Gulf Stream", then about the appointment of Scotti for Minister of the Interior, initiated, proposed, and nearly implemented to Andreotti by Antonio Gava, who responsibly, even after physical rehabilitation from illness, felt he could no longer adequately fulfil the demanding and hard tasks of the department. Gava left me, being a contributor, as a legacy to Scotti, and Scotti made me first class prefect and then Head of the Cabinet. A courageous and in some respect daring choice, opposed for some time by the conservative prefects manipulated by Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, who was considered the guarantor of prefectural orthodoxy. Scalfaro had also voted against the appointment of Scotti at the Viminale, but Gava and Andreotti didn't listen to him. Later we understood the real reasons for these hostilities, which continued even afterwards, on which I cannot say more. After only one week of work even the hostile supporters became convinced, and today both the old and the new prefects confirm that the choice of Scotti as the head of the Lauro Cabinet, was a good choice. Good for them! 

7- Scotti was cleared of charges of corruption in the garbage management area and of awarding construction contracts for the 1990 World Cup, and has benefited from the expiration with regards to the case of the abuse of office in the SISDE scandal. Was there a judicial or media campaign against him? If yes, what was the reason?

Many pages will be written sooner or later to understand what and how many instrumental attacks targeted Scotti during and after the mandate at the Interior Ministry, initiated by his party, the lobbies, the economic crime, by manipulators from the intelligence, by powerful industrial groups, with interests also in the press. He was cleared of all civil and criminal charges. He would have also been cleared from the SISDE charges, if not for the expiration, even at the first instance. There were also other SISDE charges, from which Scotti was fully acquitted, and SISDE was forced to reimburse the damages. Do not forget that once appointed minister, Scotti immediately cancelled the envelope practices of SISDE for expenditures reserved for the ministry. Scotti arrived at the Interior Ministry, with the (false) reputation of being only an inconclusive mediator. His widespread and determined political, legislative and operational activity undertaken especially in form of a fight against the Mafia, brought him friends and also aggravated his opponents, who instead of being supportive began to plot how to remove him from the Interior Ministry . Major hostility, apart from Scalfaro, came from those deputies and senators, and not only Democrats, who had seen municipal councils dissolved in their constituencies.

8- Was Scotti weakened by the legal proceedings within the CD and the Government?

Certainly, but the man did not give up even in difficult times. He has an admirable psychological component due to a rigorous cultural education and a positive, innovative, creative character made for continuous challenges, with which he deals with a mixture of determination and apparent unconsciousness. If I had to describe him in two words: a visionary realist! To his aid, there is also the disenchantment with power, which can be ephemeral. He does not feed on power, a book is enough. This makes us similar to each other. Even at the age of more than eighty years he remains young and continues, undaunted, to work for young people at the university. A rare and reputable instance of intellectual and human longevity. When asked for help and support, he never answers no, but straight away how to fix it.

9- How did Scotti and his closest collaborators experience the judicial inquiries and media campaigns?

With the serene knowledge of always having worked honestly for the republican legality and democracy.

10- What were your personal feelings about the legal proceedings of Scotti?

I have never had any doubts about his personal integrity and honesty! He despises the money. His only true love is classical music!

11-Who turned their back on him within the CD? Who stood always by his side?

Betrayal is a part of the politics. He was unhappy about it, but it didn't surprise him. Paradoxically, he came to understand its reasons!

12-   Until 28th June 1992 Scotti was the Minister of the Interior. Then, for a month, holder of the office of Foreign Affairs. Finally, he resigned officially "because of the new line of the CD regarding the incompatibility of the parliamentary mandate and the appointment of a minister". Was this the real reason? What was the influence of voices on the (alleged) State-Mafia negotiation and the Tangentopoli of Milan (in which Scotti was not involved)? Was there a precise political plan behind the dismissal of Scotti?

Replacing Scotti at the Interior Ministry was CD's fatal mistake, which led it then to a dissolution in the wake of the Tangentopoli. Scotti, together with Falcone, had declared "war" against the Mafia, interrupting the "pax mafia" which had lasted since always, demanding a clear and unequivocal choice. In March of 1992, derided by all, he issued a warning about a set of destabilising initiatives. He decreed a state of alert before the Capaci massacre. Very few wanted to believe him (considering it a fake) and he was accused of scaremongering and protagonism. Then, while re-reading the events of those years, many had to reflect and ask themselves some questions, though none of the sceptics has yet had the moral courage to admit their error. Leaving him at the Interior Ministry would have meant continuing the war with a heavy cost in human life. The cost, which the political class and the ruling parties, starting with the CD, in a state of crisis of credibility due to systemic corruption discovered in Milan, were not able or didn’t want to pay.

13-   Among the six "viceroys", Scotti's the one who managed to stay in power even after the judicial investigations. In 2006 he was a candidate for president of the Council with the Third Pole, in 2008 he was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister of the Berlusconi government, despite not having been elected with the MPA: a question of experience, expertise, political clout or political games? How did he manage that?

As Deputy Foreign Minister he worked even better than as a minister. I have confirmed this recently with some friends ambassadors in South America. The personal qualities of Scotti, combined with his enthusiasm, make him able to face successfully any work commitments, even the non-institutional ones.

14-At present, does Scotti retain his prominence in the political, regional or national dynamics?

The political unravelling, at the national level and in Campania, would need a director like him, however his energies are used today at the university, close to young people and for young people.

15- You have embarked on a crusade against gambling, even though Scotti became President of ASCOB: has this affair got you two alienated? How is your relationship after so many years of friendship, cooperation and activism in CD?

That initial presidency lasted short and there has always been a fight for strict legislation in this matter. Scotti supported me without reservation in the parliamentary battle against gambling. I have maintained relationships of respect and friendship with all the ministers, with whom I worked. First of all, with Scotti. I presented his book against the Mafia around Italy. He regularly presents all my books. I feel love and real gratitude for him for the trust, which he has always had in me, and for his positive outlook on life, which I admire and share.

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