President Cossiga had based the first years of his seven years on a criterion of rigorous non-intervention in political matters, a style radically different from that of his predecessor Pertini. Starting in 1990, he broke the secrecy observed until then to give a new imprint to his office as President, making use not only of the instrument of the message to Parliament, but exposing his point of view with increasing frequency in interviews, statements, press conferences, television appearances. One of the recurring themes was that of the role of the judiciary. Not only did he intervene to solicit the solution of some of the darkest events in recent Italian history (e.g. the ” Ustica massacre ”), but he repeatedly reminded the Superior Council of the Judiciary to respect its institutional tasks, distorted by excessive politicization and a practice of intervention in areas that would not have been its own. With the CSM (which is chaired by the President of the Republic) phases of institutional conflict, even very bitter, opened. When, in October 1990, the existence of a secret military network – called Gladio – linked to NATO and destined to lead forms of armed struggle in the event of an invasion of a communist power, Cossiga claimed credit for having contributed, as Undersecretary of Defense in the 1960s, to the definition of the tasks and structure of the organization. Very heated controversies then broke out among those who defended the legitimacy of Gladio (confirmed by Andreotti in Parliament) and those who suspected its use for anti-communist purposes in internal politics or even its involvement in criminal and terrorist episodes. Cossiga rejected the request to be heard as a witness sent by the Venetian magistrate who was investigating the Peteano massacre (in which three carabinieri died on May 31, 1972): one of the perpetrators had revealed that he had been in connection with a secret military structure. The president then quarreled harshly with the communists and with the PCI secretary Occhetto. A complaint for an attack on the Constitution presented by Proletarian Democracy was filed at the end of December. The contrasts between the president and some political forces – not only the PCI, and then the PDS, but also the PRI and, later, above all his party of origin, the DC – and with single public personalities they became more and more lively and frequent. In December 1991, the PDS again asked Parliament to indict the head of state (later acquitted in 1993). Other parties such as the PSI and the PLI instead sided constantly with the president while the government, which was seeking mediation in a conflict that risked becoming institutional at any moment, was repeatedly put in difficulty. The ” utterances ”, the so-called ” pickaxes ” of the president became the daily subject of waiting and commenting in the press and in public opinion, while the whole affair, which lasted until the early months of 1992, maintained an unusual character and paradoxical. A further paradox lay in the fact that the supreme guarantor of the Constitution had become one of its most vocal critics. The subject of the most significant and reasoned interventions, and the subject of a long message sent to the chambers at the end of June 1991, was in fact the problem of institutional reforms. Cossiga urged the political forces to start a process that could no longer be postponed and attacked those who stood up in defense of the current political system. Insisting on the damages of the party power, he took a stand against the immutability of the Constitution and in favor of a series of changes to always be submitted, in the form of referendums, to the direct judgment of the people.
According to transporthint, the unresolved problem of institutional reforms, dissensions and widespread resistance to tackling such a complex issue were at the origins, in March 1991, of the crisis of the Andreotti government. The prime minister was aiming for a solution as quick and painless as possible, namely a reshuffle, but the socialists and Cossiga imposed their resignations which were presented on 29 March. Within a few days Andreotti regained his post and resubmitted a government of five, then reduced to four (DC, PSI, PSDI, PLI) due to the exit from the majority of Republicans – dissatisfied with the ministries assigned to them – shortly before the oath, when the list of ministers was ready.
However, nothing would change even with the new government and the head of state decided to dissolve Parliament a few months in advance, on February 2, 1992.
The elections were set for 5 and 6 April: this time, however, a vote would be assigned by assigning a single preference on the ballots for the Chamber of Deputies. So the overwhelming majority (95.6%) had decided in the referendum held on 9 June 1991. It was perhaps not the decisive measure to combat the worst aspects of party politics but it was perceived as a first step in that direction and rewarded the referendum groups, in the first place the Christian Democrat M. Segni who was its most prominent personality. The call for a boycott of the referendum addressed to voters by the PSI and the Northern League (a formation that united the Lombard League with other similar formations) was severely defeated, which counted on the repetition of the previous year’s result when in the referendums against hunting and use of pesticides in agriculture had prevailed abstention. On this occasion, however, the voters were over 60%. The outcome of the referendum seemed to indicate, in the face of the hesitations of political forces, a more effective alternative way to impose institutional reforms, creating for this purpose “ transversal ” alliances between individual exponents of the majority and opposition parties. the problem of the electoral law is on the table as a priority.