On This Day May 26
1981: Italian government resigns
The collapse of Arnaldo Forlani's coalition government looked imminent after his Socialist allies boycotted a meeting called by the prime minister.
The Italian Communist Party had said it would call for a no-confidence vote in parliament unless the government resigned over revelations that several prominent politicians were members of the P2 (Propaganda Two) Masonic Lodge.
The Minister of Justice Adolfo Sarti resigned last week amid allegations that he had applied for admission to the lodge.
Senator Sarti has denied he made any attempt to join P2 and, in a letter to the prime minister, said he had been forced out of government because his name was tainted in a "slanderous campaign".
Two other ministers and 30 MPs have been included in a list of alleged members of P2, which is now under investigation.
P2 is one of more than 520 Masonic lodges which belong to the Grand Orient of Italy, the principal Masonic organisation in the country.
The lodge has been described as "a state within a state" amid allegations that it plotted to carry out a right-wing coup in Italy.
A three-man commission appointed by the government has been set up to establish whether the lodge was a "secret society" of a type banned under the constitution.
Prime Minister Forlani has met with President Sandro Pertini to submit the resignation of the cabinet following a meeting with his ministers earlier in the day.
The Cabinet session took longer than normal because urgent economic decrees had to be approved first.
The prime minister thanked his ministers for their work before driving to the presidential palace.
Flaminio Piccoli, secretary of the Christian Democrats, said: "Membership of the party and adherence to the Freemasons cannot be other than incompatible."
Freemasonry is not illegal in Italy and there are believed to be up to 200,000 members.
However, it is associated with anti-Roman Catholic Church activities and Pope John Paul II has explicitly condemned the secret society.