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Socialists Furious Over Choice of Andreotti

July 10, 1986

ROME (AP) _ Italy’s president asked the Christian Democratic foreign minister Thursday to form Italy’s 45th post-war government, drawing an angry reaction from Socialists whose coalition under Bettino Craxi had governed for almost three years.

Giulio Andreotti, 67, the foreign minister, has been premier five times previously. President Francesco Cossiga, also a Christian Democrat, gave him the assignment of forming a new governing coalition after two weeks of efforts to revive Craxi’s coalition failed.

Craxi’s five-party coalition included the Christian Democrats, Italy’s largest single party.

It lasted 34 months, the longest in Italy since the end of World War II, but fell June 27 after Craxi lost a secret vote in Parliament on a local financing bill.

The collapse followed weeks of squabbling between Craxi and the Christian Democrats over which should head the government. The feuding intensified in recent days as both parties demand the premiership.

Within an hour of Andreotti’s appointment as premier-designate, the Socialist Party issued a statement expressing deep concern at the development and saying it marked a worsening of the crisis.

Sen. Fabio Fabri, leader of the socialist senators, called the selection of Andreotti ″an expression of an irrational and unjust initiative of direct conflict with the Socialists.″

Andreotti, emerging from his meeting with Cossiga at Quirinal Palace, said forming a new government would be difficult but that he would try to put together a coalition of the same five parties. Besides the Christian Democrats and the Socialists they include the Liberals, Social Democrats and Republicans.

Francesco D’Onofrio, a leading Christian Democratic senator, said in an interview that, ″The immediate negative reaction from the Socialists sounds like a roadblock.″

If Andreotti cannot reach agreement with the Socialists, one possibility is a Christian Democrat minority government through the summer, D’Onofrio said.

Early elections also are possible. The next vote is not due until 1988.

Andreotti has been asked nine times in his 42-year political career to form a government. He succeeded five times, including in 1972 when his first government lasted only nine days, Italy’s shortest ever.

The Socialists have said they want Craxi to lead the government for an unlimited term. Christian Democrats said they would accept Craxi as premier only for a limited time, and on condition they subsequently regain the post.

Andreotti has been foreign minister since Craxi’s government was formed Aug. 4, 1983. He supported Italy’s close ties with the United States and NATO membership, but also called for better relations with the Soviet Union.

He has come under fire for his strong support for the Palestine Liberation Organization and cordial ties with Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.