Sandro Pertini

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Sandro Pertini
Pertini ritratto.jpg
Emblem of Italy.svg
7th President of Italy
In office
9 July 1978 – 29 June 1985
Prime Minister
Preceded by Giovanni Leone
Succeeded by Francesco Cossiga
President of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
5 July 1968 – 4 June 1976
President Giuseppe Saragat
Giovanni Leone
Preceded by Brunetto Bucciarelli-Ducci
Succeeded by Pietro Ingrao
Senator for life
In office
29 June 1985 – 24 February 1990
Constituency Former President
Personal details
Born (1896-09-25)25 September 1896
Stella, Italy
Died 24 February 1990(1990-02-24) (aged 93)
Rome, Italy
Nationality Italian
Political party Italian Socialist Party
Other political
affiliations
United Socialist Party
(1922-1930)
Spouse(s) Carla Voltolina
Alma mater University of Genoa
Religion None (atheist)[1]
Signature
Website Sandro Pertini Foundation

Alessandro "Sandro" Pertini (Italian: [alesˈsandro (ˈsandro) perˈtiːni]; 25 September 1896 – 24 February 1990) was an Italian journalist and socialist politician, who served as the seventh President of the Italian Republic, from 1978 to 1985.

Early life[edit]

Born in Stella (Province of Savona) as the son of a wealthy landowner, Alberto, he studied at a Salesian college in Varazze, and completed his schooling at the "Chiabrera" lyceum (high school) in Savona.

His philosophy teacher was Adelchi Baratono, a reformist socialist who contributed to his approach to socialism and probably introduced him to the inner circles of the Ligurian labour movements. Pertini obtained a Law degree from the University of Genoa.

Aged 19 when Italy entered World War I on the side of the Entente, Pertini opposed the war, but nonetheless enlisted in the army where he served as a lieutenant and was decorated for bravery. After the armistice in 1918, he joined the United Socialist Party, PSU, then he settled in Florence where he also graduated in political science with a thesis entitled La Cooperazione ("Cooperation"; 1924). While in the city, Pertini also came into contact with people such as Gaetano Salvemini, the brothers Carlo and Nello Rosselli, and Ernesto Rossi. Pertini was physically beaten by Fascist squads on several occasions, but never lost faith in his ideals.

Resistance to Fascism[edit]

After the assassination of PSU leader Giacomo Matteotti by Fascists, Pertini became even more committed to the struggle against the totalitarian regime. In 1926, he was sentenced to internment, but managed to go into hiding. Later, together with Carlo Rosselli and Ferruccio Parri, he organized and accompanied the escape to France of Filippo Turati, who was the most prominent figure of the PSU. Pertini remained in the country until 1926 working as a mason. On his return to Italy, he was arrested in Pisa and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment.

In 1935 he was interned on Santo Stefano Island, Ventotene (LT), Pontine Islands, an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, where he remained through Italy's entry into World War II and until 1943. There he saved the famous diaries of Antonio Gramsci. Although he had begun suffering from severe illness, Pertini never demanded pardon. He was released a month after Benito Mussolini's arrest, and joined the Italian resistance movement against the Nazi German occupiers and Mussolini's new regime – the Italian Social Republic. Arrested by the Germans, he was sentenced to death but freed by a partisan raid. Pertini then travelled north to organize partisan war as an executive member of PSU (alongside Rodolfo Morandi and Lelio Basso).

Prominence[edit]

President Sandro Pertini in his office at Quirinale palace.

After the war ended in Italy on 25 April 1945 and the monarchy was abolished through the Italian constitutional referendum, 1946, Pertini was elected to the Constituent Assembly (La Costituente), the body that prepared the new republican Italian Constitution. In the postwar era he was a prominent member of the directive board of the Italian Socialist Party (the PSI, which the PSU had rejoined).

In spite of his intransigent attitude toward the Italian Communist Party, Pertini was suspicious of many policies enforced by the PSI. He criticized all forms of colonialism, as well as corruption in the Italian state and within the socialist party, where he kept an independent political position.

He was elected president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1968, and in 1978, the 82-year old Pertini was elected President of the Italian Republic, the highest office in the nation. Despite his advanced age, he displayed considerable energy and vigor, playing a major role in helping restore the public's faith in the government and institutions of Italy, as well as maintaining an active schedule of traveling and meeting foreign dignitaries. During the Brigate Rosse terrorism period of the Anni di piombo, Pertini openly denounced the violence. He also opposed organized crime in Italy, South African apartheid, Chilean president Augusto Pinochet and other dictatorships, as well as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1985, he stepped down from the presidency, becoming automatically senator for life. The only official role he accepted in his retirement was President of the "Filippo Turati" Foundation for Historical Studies of Florence inaugurated in 1985 and dedicated to recording and preserving the history of the socialist movement in Italy. In December 1988 Pertini was the first person to be awarded with the Otto Hahn Peace Medal in Gold by the United Nations Association of Germany (Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen, DGVN) in Berlin, "for outstanding services to peace and international understanding, especially for his political ethics and practical humanity." Pertini died in February 1990 at the age of 93 and was mourned across the nation.

Relationship with Pope John Paul II[edit]

Sanrdo Pertini had a close friendship with Pope John Paul II. He would have frequent phone conversations with him. He was in attendance at Gemelli Hospital when the Pope was being operated. In Accanto a Giovanni Paolo II”, he is known to have referred to his mother looking over him in heaven, moved that his atheist son was friends with the Pope.

Quotes[edit]

What does today's Resistance consist of? For this I plead with young people: defend our hard won positions! Defend the Republic and democracy! What I mean is today we need two qualities, my dear friends: honesty and courage. I appeal to young people: be honest first of all, politics must be done with clean hands! If there's any scandal, if anyone plays politics for his own vile interest, he must be reported without hesitation!

—Sandro Pertini

Young people do not need to be preached to; young people need, from the elders, examples of honesty, consistency and altruism.

— Sandro Pertini, Television message to Italians, December 31, 1978

Quotes on Pertini[edit]

President Pertini of Italy arrived – first visit to U.S. He's 84 and a terrific old gentleman. We had the full ceremony under a warm sum. Good meeting. He loves America – very touching moment on the way into the White House. He paused by the Marine holding our flag and kissed it.

Ronald Reagan, 1982

Trivia[edit]

Pertini attended the 1982 World Cup Final in Madrid for a match between Italy and West Germany just two days after the fourth anniversary of his inauguration. After Italy scored their third goal, he wagged his finger to either the German delegation or King Juan Carlos I, and probably said "they [the German team] will not catch us any more".[2] Paolo Rossi, Italy's and the tournament's top scorer, later said: "I remember that when he welcomed us at the Presidential Palace after our win, he rose and said: 'This is my best day as President.'" [1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wodzimierz Rdzioch. "Remembering John Paul II. New book shares stories from some of his closest friends". John Paul II Foundation. "The author of the book came across some unique stories, like the friendship John Paul II had with atheists. Among them former Italian president Sandro Pertini, who would actually call him over the phone pretty often." 
  2. ^ Video on Pertini exulting at the Italian team's victory on YouTube

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Brunetto Bucciarelli-Ducci
President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies
1968–1976
Succeeded by
Pietro Ingrao
Preceded by
Giovanni Leone
President of the Italian Republic
1978–1985
Succeeded by
Francesco Cossiga
Party political offices
Preceded by
Pietro Nenni
Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party
1945–1946
Succeeded by
Ivan Matteo Lombardo