|Birth Day:||June 29, 1925|
|Birth Place:||Naples, Italy|
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He was a member of the Italian resistance movement against the Nazis during World War II and entered politics after the war.
Giorgio Napolitano was born in Naples, in 1925. His father, Giovanni, was a liberal lawyer and poet; his mother was Carolina Bobbio, a descendant of a noble Piedmontese family.
From 1938 to 1941 he studied at the Classical Lyceum Umberto I of Naples, but in 1941 his family moved to Padova and he was graduated to the lyceum Titus Livius. In 1942, he matriculated at the University of Naples Federico II, studying law. During this period, Napolitano adhered to the local University Fascist Youth ("Gioventù Universitaria Fascista"), where he met his core group of friends, who shared his opposition to Italian fascism. As he would later state, the group "was in fact a true breeding ground of anti-fascist intellectual energies, disguised and to a certain extent tolerated".
In 1944, along with the group of Neapolitan Communists, as Mario Palermo and Maurizio Valenzi, Napolitano prepared the arrival in Naples of Palmiro Togliatti, the long-time leader of the Italian Communist Party who was in exile since 1926 when the Communist Party of Italy was banned by the Italian Fascist government, and Togliatti was one of few leaders not to be arrested, as he was attending a meeting of the Comintern in Moscow.
Following the end of the war in 1945, Napolitano joined the Communist Party and suddenly became its federal secretary for Naples and Caserta. In 1947, he graduated in jurisprudence with a final dissertation on political economy, entitled Il mancato sviluppo industriale del Mezzogiorno dopo l'unità e la legge speciale per Napoli del 1904 ("The lack of industrial development in the Mezzogiorno following the unification of Italy and the special law of 1904 for Naples"). He became a member of the Secretariat of the Italian Economic Centre for Southern Italy in 1946, which was represented by Senator Paratore, where he remained for two years. Napolitano played a major role in the Movement for the Rebirth of Southern Italy for over ten years.
The European Commission did not comment on this event, but did comment on (and partly condemn) the response by Croatian president Stjepan Mesić, who described Napolitano's statement as racist because Napolitano did not refer to either Slovenians or Croatians as a nation when he spoke about a "Slavic annexationist design" for the Julian March (at the time, Slovenians and Croatians fought together in the Yugoslav Resistance Movement). Another matter of debate in Croatia was that the Italian President made awards to relatives of 25 foibe victims, who included the last fascist Italian prefect in Zadar, Vincenzo Serrentino, who was sentenced to death in 1947 in Šibenik. That was seen by Mesić as "historic revisionism" and open support for revanchism. President Napolitano's remarks on the foibe massacres were praised by both centre-left and centre-right in Italy, and both coalitions condemned Mesić's statements, while the whole of Croatia stood by Mesić, who later acknowledged that Napolitano didn't want to put in discussion the Peace Treaty of 1947.
He was first elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1953 for the electoral district of Naples, and was reelected in every election until 1996. He was elected to the National Committee of the party during its eighth national congress in 1956, largely thanks to the support offered by Palmiro Togliatti, who wanted to involve younger politicians in the central direction of the party. He became responsible for the commission for Southern Italy within the National Committee.
In 1953 a document of the Italian Ministry of Interior reported Napolitano as a member of the secret armed paramilitary groups of the Communist Party in the city of Rome (so-called "Gladio Rossa")
Between 1963 and 1966, Napolitano was party chairman in the city of Naples and later, between 1966 and 1969, he was appointed as chairman of the secretary's office and of the political office. In 1964, following the death of Palmiro Togliatti, Napolitano was one of the main leaders who supported an alliance with the Italian Socialist Party, which after the end of the so-called "Popular Democratic Front" joined the government with the Christian Democracy). During the 1970s and 1980s, Napolitano was in charge for cultural activities, economic policy and the international relations of the party.
After the death of Enrico Berlinguer in 1984, Napolitano was among the possible successors as Secretary of the party, but Alessandro Natta was preferred. In July 1989 Napolitano became Foreign Minister in the PCI shadow government, from which he resigned the day after the Congress of Rimini, where advocates for processing into Democratic Party of the Left.
In the mid-1970s, Napolitano was invited by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to give a lecture, but the United States ambassador to Italy, John A. Volpe, refused to grant Napolitano a visa on account of his membership of the PCI. Between 1977 and 1981 Napolitano had some secret meetings with the United States ambassador Richard Gardner, at a time when the PCI was seeking contact with the US administration, in the context of its definitive break with its past relationship with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the beginning of eurocommunism, the attempt to develop a theory and practice more adapted to the democratic countries of Western Europe. He was an active member of the party until it ended in 1991. In 2006, when Napolitano was elected President of the Italian Republic, Gardner stated to AP Television News that he considered Napolitano "a real statesman", "a true believer in democracy" and "a friend of the United States [who] will carry out his office with impartiality and fairness".
After the dissolution of the Italian Communist Party in February 1991, Napolitano followed most of its membership into the Democratic Party of the Left, a democratic socialist and social democratic party, considered the post-communist evolution of the PCI.
In 1992 he was elected President of the Chamber of Deputies, replacing Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, who became President of the Italian Republic. That legislature was hit by "Tangentopoli" and his presidency became one of the fronts of the relationship between the judiciary and politics.
After the 1996 general election, the centre-left Prime Minister Romano Prodi selected him as Minister of the Interior. He was the first former Communist to hold the office, a role traditionally occupied by Christian Democrats. In this capacity, he took part, together with fellow lawmaker and Cabinet Minister Livia Turco, in drafting the government-sponsored law on immigration control (Legislative Decree No. 40 6 March 1998), better known as the "Turco–Napolitano bill". Napolitano remained Minister of the Interior until October 1998, when Prodi's government lost its majority in the Parliament.
Napolitano has often been cited as the author of a collection of sonnets in Neapolitan dialect published under a pseudonym, Tommaso Pignatelli, and entitled Pe cupià ’o chiarfo ("To mimic the downpour"). He denied this in 1997 and, again, on the occasion of his presidential election, when his staff described the attribution of authorship to Napolitano as a "journalistic myth". He published his first acknowledged book, entitled Movimento Operaio e Industria di Stato (which can be translated as "Workers' Movement and State Industry"), in 1962.
Napolitano also served a second term as an MEP from 1999 to 2004 as member of the Party of European Socialists. In October 2005, he was named Senator for Life, and was, therefore, one of the last two to be appointed by President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, together with Sergio Pininfarina.
The general election in April 2006 saw a victory of the centre-left candidate Romano Prodi against the incumbent conservative Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. After the election, the Presidents of both houses of parliament were chosen by the winning centre-left coalition, and so the centre-right House of Freedoms demanded an impartial candidate for the role of President of the Republic. The Union stressed the fact that the Italian Constitution demands that the President be a defender of the constitution, hinting that such a quality was scarce among the opposition members.
The centre-left majority coalition, on 7 May 2006, officially endorsed Napolitano as its candidate in the presidential election that began on 8 May. The Vatican endorsed him as President through its official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, just after The Union named him as its candidate, as did Marco Follini, former secretary of the Union of Christian and Centre Democrats, a member party of the House of Freedoms.
On 9 July 2006, Napolitano was present at the FIFA World Cup final, in which the Italian team defeated France and won its fourth World Cup, and afterwards he joined the players' celebrations. He is the second President of the Italian Republic to be present at a FIFA World Cup final won by the Italian team, after Sandro Pertini in 1982.
On 26 September 2006, Napolitano made an official visit to Budapest, Hungary, where he paid tribute to the fallen in the 1956 revolution, which he initially opposed as member of the Italian Communist Party, by laying a wreath at Imre Nagy's grave.
On 10 February 2007 a diplomatic crisis arose between Italy and Croatia after President Napolitano made an official speech during the celebration of the National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe in which he stated:
On 21 February 2007, Prime Minister Romano Prodi submitted his resignation after losing a foreign policy vote in the Parliament; Napolitano held talks with the political groups in parliament, and on 24 February rejected the resignation, prompting Prodi to ask for a new vote of confidence. Prodi won the vote in the upper house on 28 February and in the lower house on 2 March, allowing his cabinet to remain in office.
On 24 January 2008, Romano Prodi lost a vote of confidence in the Senate by a vote of 161 to 156 votes, after the UDEUR Populars ended its support for the Prodi-led government.
On 4 February 2008 Marini acknowledged that he had failed to find the necessary majority for an interim government, and resigned his mandate, after having met with all major political forces and having found opposition to forming an interim government mainly from center-right parties Forza Italia and National Alliance, favoured in a possible next election and strongly in favour of an early vote.
President Napolitano summoned Bertinotti and Marini, the two Speakers of the Houses of the Italian Parliament, acknowledging the end of the legislature, on 5 February 2008. He dissolved the Parliament on 6 February 2008. Snap elections were held on 13 and 14 April 2008 together with the administrative elections. The elections resulted in a decisive victory for Berlusconi's Centre-right coalition.
On 7 May 2008, President Napolitano appointed Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister, following his landslide victory in the general election. The cabinet was officially inaugurated one day later, with Berlusconi thus becoming the second Prime Minister under President Napolitano.
On 6 February 2009, President Napolitano refused to sign an emergency decree made by the Berlusconi government in order to suspend a final court sentence allowing suspension of nutrition to 38-year-old coma patient Eluana Englaro; the decree could not be enacted by Berlusconi. This caused a major political debate within Italy regarding the relationship between the President and the government in office.
On 11 October 2011, the Chamber of Deputies rejected the law on the budget of the State proposed by the government. As a result of this event Berlusconi moved for a confidence vote in the Chamber on 14 October, he won the vote with just 316 votes to 310, minimum required to retain a majority. An increasing number of Deputies continued to cross the floor and join the opposition and on 8 November the Chamber approved the law on the budget of the State previously rejected but with only 308 votes, while opposition parties didn't participate in the vote to highlight that Berlusconi lost his majority. After the vote, Berlusconi announced his resignation after Parliament passed economic reforms.
On 12 November 2011, after a final meeting with his cabinet, Berlusconi met Napolitano at the Palazzo del Quirinale to tend his resignation. As he arrived at the presidential residence, a hostile crowd gathered with banners shouting insults at Berlusconi and throwing coins at the car. After his resignation, the booing and jeering continued as he left in his convoy, with the public shouting words such as "buffoon", "dictator" and "mafioso". Following Berlusconi's resignation, President Napolitano then decided to appoint former EU commissioner Mario Monti as a senator for life, and then as prime minister-designate. Monti was subsequently confirmed by an overwhelming majority of both houses of the Italian parliament, in what was widely referred to as a "government of the president".
Giorgio Napolitano was easily re-elected on 20 April 2013, receiving 738 of the 1007 possible votes, and was sworn in on 22 April 2013 after a speech when he asked for constitutional and electoral reforms.
On 24 April 2013, Napolitano gave to the vice-secretary of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, the task of forming a government, having determined that Pier Luigi Bersani, leader of the winning coalition Italy Common Good, could not form a government because it did not have a majority in the Senate. On 27 April Letta formally accepted the task of leading a Grand coalition government, with support from the centre-left Democratic Party (of which he stays Deputy Secretary), the centre-right People of Freedom, and the centrist Civic Choice, and subsequently listed the members of his Cabinet. The government he formed became the first in the history of the Italian Republic to include representatives of all the major candidate-coalitions that had competed in the election. His close relationship with his uncle Gianni Letta, one of Silvio Berlusconi's most trusted advisors, was perceived as a way of overcoming the bitter hostility between the two opposing camps. Letta appointed Angelino Alfano, secretary of the People of Freedom, as his Deputy Prime Minister. Letta was formally sworn-in as Prime Minister on 28 April; during the ceremony, a man fired shots outside Palazzo Chigi and wounded two Carabinieri.
On 30 January 2014 the Five Star Movement deposited an impeachment accusing Napolitano of harming the Italian Constitution, to allow unconstitutional laws and in relation of the events State-Mafia negotiation. The motion was later dismissed.
On 9 November 2014, the Italian press reported that Napolitano would step down at the end of the year. The press office of the Quirinale "neither confirmed nor denied" the reports. Napolitano officially resigned on 14 January 2015, after the end of the six-month Italian presidency of the EU.
Currently, Giorgio Napolitano is 97 years, 1 months and 20 days old. Giorgio Napolitano will celebrate 98th birthday on a Thursday 29th of June 2023.
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