Propaganda Due (Italian pronunciation: [propaˈɡanda ˈduːe]; P2) was a Masonic lodge founded in 1945 that, by the time its Masonic charter was withdrawn in 1976, had transformed into a clandestine, pseudo-Masonic, ultraright organization operating in contravention of Article 18 of the Constitution of Italy that banned secret associations. In its latter period, during which the lodge was headed by Licio Gelli, P2 was implicated in numerous Italian crimes and mysteries, including the collapse of the Vatican-affiliated Banco Ambrosiano, the murders of journalist Mino Pecorelli and banker Roberto Calvi, and corruption cases within the nationwide bribe scandal Tangentopoli. P2 came to light through the investigations into the collapse of Michele Sindona's financial empire.
P2 was sometimes referred to as a "state within a state" or a "shadow government". The lodge had among its members prominent journalists, members of parliament, industrialists, and military leaders—including Silvio Berlusconi, who later became Prime Minister of Italy; the Savoy pretender to the Italian throne Victor Emmanuel; and the heads of all three Italian intelligence services (at the time SISDE, SISMI and CESIS).
When searching Licio Gelli's villa in 1982, the police found a document called the "Plan for Democratic Rebirth", which called for a consolidation of the media, suppression of trade unions, and the rewriting of the Italian Constitution.
Outside Italy, P2 was also active in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina, with Raúl Alberto Lastiri, Argentina's interim president (between 13 July 1973 and 12 October 1973) during the height of the "Dirty War" among its members. Emilio Massera, who was part of the military junta led by Jorge Rafael Videla from 1976 to 1978, José López Rega, minister of Social Welfare in Perón's government and founder of the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance ("Triple A"), and General Guillermo Suárez Mason were also members.
The activities of the P2 lodge were discovered by prosecutors while investigating banker Michele Sindona, the collapse of his bank and his ties to the Mafia. In March 1981, police found a list of alleged members in Gelli's house in Arezzo. It contained 962 names, among which were important state officials, important politicians and a number of military officers, including the heads of the three Italian secret services. Future Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was on the list, although he had not yet entered politics at the time. Another famous member was Victor Emmanuel, the son of the last Italian king.
Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani (whose chef de cabinet was a P2 member as well) appointed a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, headed by the independent Christian Democrat Tina Anselmi. Nevertheless, in May 1981, Forlani was forced to resign due to the P2 scandal, causing the fall of the Italian government.
In January 1982 the P2 lodge was definitively abolished by the Law 25 January 1982, no. 17.
In July 1982, new documents were found hidden in the false bottom of a suitcase belonging to Gelli's daughter at Fiumicino airport in Rome. The documents were entitled "Memorandum sulla situazione italiana" (Memorandum on the Italian situation) "Piano di rinascita democratica" (Plan of Democratic Rebirth) and are seen as the political programme of P2. According to these documents, the main enemies of Italy were the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the trade unions. These had to be isolated and cooperation with the communists (the second biggest party in Italy and one of the largest in Europe), which was proposed in the historic compromise by Aldo Moro, needed to be disrupted.
Gelli's goal was to form a new political and economic elite to lead Italy towards a right-wing, authoritarian form of democracy, with an anti-communist pre-occupation. P2 advocated a programme of extensive political corruption: "political parties, newspapers and trade unions can be the objects of possible solicitations which could take the form of economic-financial manoeuvres. The availability of sums not exceeding 30 to 40 billion lire would seem sufficient to allow carefully chosen men, acting in good faith, to conquer key positions necessary for overall control."