Leoluca Orlando

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Leoluca Orlando
Leoluca Orlando 2016 (cropped).jpg
Mayor of Palermo
Assumed office
22 May 2012
Preceded byDiego Cammarata
In office
3 December 1993 – 16 December 2000
Preceded byManlio Orobello
Succeeded byDiego Cammarata
In office
16 July 1985 – 14 August 1990
Preceded byNello Martellucci
Succeeded byDomenico Lo Vasco
Personal details
Born (1947-08-01) 1 August 1947 (age 74)
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Political partyDC (before 1991)
Rete (1991–1999)
Dem (1999–2002)
DL (2002–2005)
IdV (2005–2012)
LR 2018 (2012–2018)
PD (2018–present)
Alma materUniversity of Palermo

Leoluca Orlando (born 1 August 1947), is an Italian politician, current Mayor of Palermo. He was also mayor of the city in 1985–1990 and 1993–2000 and President of Italian Federation of American Football (FIDAF).[1] He is best known for his strong opposition to the Sicilian Mafia during his mayoralty in the 1980s, which was publicly referenced in the media as the "Palermo Spring" (Italian: Primavera di Palermo).[2]


Orlando was born in Palermo. He graduated in jurisprudence and worked as lawyer and professor at the University of Palermo.

He was a member of Christian Democracy (DC), in the left wing of the party. He entered politics in 1976 as legal adviser to Christian Democratic reformer Piersanti Mattarella, who became president of the Sicilian Region in 1978. The two men set out to break the Mafia's hold on the island, transferring budget authority from the corrupt regional government back to the cities and passing a law enforcing the same building standards used in the rest of Italy, thereby making the Mafia's building schemes illegal.[3] In retaliation, the Mafia killed Mattarella in January 1980.

The brother of Mattarella and other associates urged him to run for the Palermo municipal council, he ran successfully, and was elected mayor by the town council in 1985.[3] From 1985-1990 he was elected mayor of Palermo, and received many threats as a result of his open opposition to the power of the Mafia in the city. He was re-elected as mayor in 1993 with 75.2% of the vote. In 1992 he was also elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies. Two years later he became a member of the European Parliament.

Leoluca Orlando attacked harshly Giovanni Falcone accusing him of having "kept closed in the drawers" a series of documents concerning the excellent mafia crimes.[4] The charges were also addressed to the judge Roberto Scarpinato and the prosecutor Pietro Giammanco, believed to be close to Andreotti. Falcone substantially dissented from Orlando's conclusions on political responsibilities regarding the actions of the mafia dome (the so-called "third level"), arguing as always the need for certain evidence and branding such claims as "political cynicism". Addressed directly to Orlando, he will say: "If the mayor of Palermo knows something, name and surname, cite the facts, take responsibility for what he said. Otherwise keep quiet: it is not lawful to speak in the absence of the interested parties".[5]

In 1996 he was investigated for aggravated corruption during the exercise of his duties as mayor of Palermo. The repentant Tullio Cannella says that in 1986 the municipality of Palermo, after a bribe of 200 million lire, bought the apartments of Joseph Bonanno, (born Giuseppe Carlo Bonanno), famous Italian-American crime boss of the Bonanno crime family, which he ran from 1931 to 1968. Recipients of the bribe, according to the repentant, were the Mayor Leoluca Orlando and the councilor Vincenzo Inzerillo, who at the time of the facts was in prison for 16 months for mafia. Orlando denies any responsibility.[6] The affair for Leoluca Orlando had no judicial follow-up.

After the dissolution of DC, he founded a popular movement called The Network ("La Rete"), which in 1999 joined with Romano Prodi's Democrats. In 2001 he was among the founders of The Daisy, an Italian party currently including most of the former left-wing members of DC.

Since 2000, he has been the President of the "Sicilian Renaissance Institute" a non-profit organization dealing with the promotion of economy and culture of lawfulness and Human rights.[7]

In December 2000 he resigned from the position of mayor and was a candidate for the presidency of the autonomous region of Sicily. He was, however, defeated by the centre-right candidate Salvatore Cuffaro. In 2006 he was expelled from the Daisy party, after having shown his full support for the candidacy of Rita Borsellino in the Sicilian presidential centre-left primary election, contrary to the line of his party that supported its member Ferdinando Latteri [it]. He subsequently joined the Italy of Values of Antonio Di Pietro with whom he was elected at the Italian Chamber of Deputies. He has been the President of the Parliamentary Commission for Regional affairs.

In April 2008 he was re-elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

On May 2007 he ran as centre-left candidate for mayor of Palermo, after having won the centre-left primary election in a landslide with about 72% of the votes. He however lost to incumbent Diego Cammarata of the House of Freedoms, who obtained about 53% of votes compared with Orlando's 45%.[8] Following the results, Orlando denounced massive electoral frauds and asked for the annulment of the vote.[9]

In March 2012 he announced his candidacy for Mayor of Palermo as an independent in the May elections, after having unsuccessfully supported Rita Borsellino's mayoral bid in a controversial primary election won by his former protégé Fabrizio Ferrandelli [it]. In the first round, held on 5 May 2012, he was the most voted candidate with 48% of votes despite being only supported by his own Italy of Values and a number of minor left-wing parties (Federation of the Greens and Federation of the Left). He took part in the final round against second-placed Ferrandelli and on 21 May he won the runoff with 72% of the vote.[10] He was re-elected for a personal fifth term as mayor in 2017, winning over 46% of votes in the first round.[11]

In June 2018, in defiance of orders from the Italian government, Orlando stated that he would allow the Aquarius, bearing 629 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya, to dock in Palermo. He stated "Palermo in ancient Greek meant ‘complete port’. We have always welcomed rescue boats and vessels who saved lives at sea. We will not stop now."[12]

In 2020 Orlando was nominated for the Four Freedoms Award, Freedom from Fear.[13] Because of the Covid-19 crisis the ceremony is postponed until Spring 2021.

Durint the last mandate of Orlando, the city of Palermo got several national and international recognitions, mainly due to its renewed international visibility, that boosted the turistical sector: - in 2015, several monuments of the town, the so called "Palermo Arab-Normand path and the Cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale" were included in the Unesco world heritage - in 2017 it was awarded Italian Capital of youth [14] - in 2018 it was awarded Italian Capital of Culture [15] - in 2019 Michelin awarded the town with three stars, as recognition of its turistic appeal. [16]


  1. ^ "Sindaci e commissari dal 1861 a oggi". Comune di Palermo. 22 May 2012. Archived from the original on 5 June 2012. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
  2. ^ Gundle, Stephen; Parker, Simon (1995). The New Italian Republic: From the Fall of the Berlin Wall to Berlusconi. Routledge. p. 179. ISBN 978-0415121620.
  3. ^ a b Mob Rule - Fighting the Mafia and Renewing Sicilian Culture - Review Archived 2005-03-09 at the Wayback Machine, National Review, 1 October 2001
  4. ^ "Giovanni Falcone". fondazionefalcone.it. Archived from the original on 2009-08-01. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Quando Cossiga convocò le toghe di Sicilia". La Repubblica. 21 October 1993. p. 4. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  6. ^ Centro Impastato Cronologia 1996 Archived 2007-02-05 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "sicilianrenaissance.info". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  8. ^ (in Italian) Results Archived 2007-05-16 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Center-right wins Sicily mayorships; Berlusconi says it's the beginning of the end for Prodi, The Associated Press, 14 May 2007
  10. ^ "Orlando vince con il 70 per cento". La Repubblica (in Italian). 21 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
  11. ^ "Elezioni 2017, risultati sindaco: Orlando trionfa al primo turno con il 46%" (in Italian). PalermoToday. 12 June 2017. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  12. ^ Wintour, Patrick; Tondo, Lorenzo (10 June 2018). "Palermo defies populist coalition to offer safe port to migrant ship". the Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2020-07-28. Retrieved 2020-07-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ {{Cite web |url=https://agenziagiovani.it/rassegna-stampa-ang/palermo-capitale-italiana-dei-giovani-2017/ |title=Archived copy |access-date=2021-09-09
  15. ^ {{Cite web |url=https://www.beniculturali.it/comunicato/franceschini-palermo-capitale-italiana-della-cultura-2018vittoria-basata-su-un-progetto-forte-di-convivenza-apertura-e-dialogo |title=Archived copy |access-date=2021-09-09
  16. ^ {{Cite web |url=https://www.ansa.it/canale_motori/notizie/attualita/2019/01/21/palermo-e-citta-a-tre-stelle-michelin-per-arte-e-monumenti_b498f796-b6b5-4ce5-9b41-b50e6a80b877.html |title=Archived copy |access-date=2021-09-09

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