Marco Pannella

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Marco Pannella
Marco Pannella crop.jpg
President of the Transnational Radical Party
In office
1 January 1989 – 19 May 2016
Succeeded byvacant
Member of the European Parliament
In office
17 July 1979 – 14 July 2009
ConstituencyNorth-West Italy (1979–1989; 1994–2009)
Southern Italy (1989–1994)
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
5 July 1976 – 14 April 1994
ConstituencyTurin (1976–1979;
Naples (1979–1983)
Milan (1983–1987)
Palermo (1987–1992)
Personal details
Giacinto Pannella

(1930-05-02)2 May 1930
Teramo, Italy
Died19 May 2016(2016-05-19) (aged 86)
Rome, Italy
Political partyPLI (1945–1955)
Radical Party (1955–1989)
Pannella List (1992–1999)
Bonino List (1999–2004)
Italian Radicals (2001–2016)
Domestic partner(s)Mirella Parachini
(1974–2016; his death)
Alma materUniversity of Urbino

Marco Pannella (born Giacinto Pannella; 2 May 1930 – 19 May 2016) was an Italian politician, journalist and activist. He was well known in his country for his nonviolence and civil rights' campaigns,[1][2] like the right to divorce, the right to abortion, the legalization of cannabis and the abolition of nuclear power.[3] Internationally, he supported human rights and self-determination causes, like the Tibetan independence and persecution of Christians in Vietnam.

He was the historic leader of the Radical Party (the first expression of the Radicals in post-World War II Italy was the Italian Radical Party, founded in 1955). Between 1979 and 2009, he was a Member of the European Parliament, where he sat as a full member in the Committee on Legal Affairs, in the Committee on Budgetary Control and in the Delegation for relations with Israel. He was also President of the Nonviolent Radical Party.

He is considered an example of left-libertarian[4] and liberal socialist.

Early life[edit]

Pannella was born in Teramo (Abruzzo) from an Italian father and a Swiss mother on 2 May 1930. He attended the classical lyceum Julius Caesar in Rome. In 1955 Pannella graduated in law at the University of Urbino.

Political career[edit]

At 20 years old, Pannella became a national representative at the university level for the Italian Liberal Party (PLI), member of the student association Unione Goliardica Italiana (UGI) and at 23 he was President of the Unione Nazionale degli Studenti, (National Union of Students).

At 24 he promoted the foundation of the Partito Radicale (hereinafter the "Radical Party"). From 1960 to 1963, he was in Paris as a correspondent of the Italian newspaper Il Giorno. During his long political career, Pannella co-founded a series of organizations such as the Italian league for divorce, the League for objection of conscience, the League for the abrogation of the Agreement between the Catholic Church and the Italian State (Concordat), the Centre of legal initiative "Piero Calamandrei", as well as the Italian Association for Demographic Education (AIED).[5] He has been at the forefront of the promotion of important reforms regarding narcotics[6] and faced incarceration on various occasions for his civil disobediences. He played a prominent role in the movement that led to the legalization of abortion in Italy in 1978.[5] He also promoted actions to grant electoral rights for Italians aged 18.[7]

Engaged in the defence of civil rights in Eastern European countries, in 1968 he was arrested in Sofia for having distributed leaflets against the Communist regime. He was one of the first promoters and founders of the Green and ecologist political movements in Europe.

Over the years, he was engaged in Italy in the defence of civil rights as well as against the public financing of political parties and against corruption of Italian politics. Beginning in the 1970s, Pannella promoted a series of referendums on themes ranging from social to political issues, in particular on those relating to the legality of the State, the rule of law and to the administration of justice.[5]

Pannella campaigning for the divorce referendum in 1974.

He was elected to the European Parliament in 1979. He sat in the Technical Group of Independents which was a technical alliance of left wing MEPs who were not allied with either the Soviet influenced Communist parties or the mainstream Social Democratic parties. He served as chair of the group along with the hardline Irish Republican Neil Blaney and Danish left-wing Eurosceptic Jens-Peter Bonde.Throughout the 1980s, he promoted international anti-prohibitionist campaigns on drugs and was one of the founders of the Radical Antiprohibitionist Coordination (CORA) and of the International Antiprohibitionist League.

A believer in Gandhian nonviolence, Pannella carried out several hunger strikes in Italy and elsewhere to defend civil rights and to end extermination through starvation the world over.[7] This included a hunger strike in 2007, to protest against the death penalty. This strike was set off by the hanging of Saddam Hussein.[8] A hunger strike in April 2014 to protest Italian prison conditions resulted in Pannella having to have surgery.[9]

A disciple of Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi, Pannella was one of the first European Federalists and fought, through nonviolent means, for the creation of the European Union.

He was elected Secretary of the Radical Party in November 1981 and remained in office until November 1983.[10] At the RP Congress in Budapest in 1989, he launched the creation of the Transnational Radical Party of which he became president of the Federal Council on that occasion.

In 2003, he created together with other prominent European personalities the Medbridge Strategy Center, whose goal is to promote dialogue and mutual understanding between Europe and the Middle-East.[11]

Marco Pannella with the Dalai Lama.

He was honorary President of the Party of the Rom (ROI) in the Czech Republic and he was also honorary member of the Socialist Slovene Youth. The Jewish National Fund (Hebrew: קרן קימת לישראל, Keren Kayemet LeYisrael) dedicated him a reforestation area in the Negev Desert in Israel.

In October 2011, he became a member of the French Federalist Party in order to take part in the founding convention of the European Federalist Party which took place on 5/6 November 2011. Thus he became a founding member of the European Federalist Party.

Personal life[edit]

Pannella was never married and had no children. He had been living for several decades with his girlfriend Mirella Parachini. In 2010, he alluded in an interview to the fact that Parachini and he had always been in an open relationship "without jealousy". In the same interview, Pannella came out as bisexual and said he had "three or four" significant relationships with men.[12] He was atheist.[13]

Pannella died on 19 May 2016 of cancer,[7] after agreeing to be sedated.[14] The Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi described him as a "lion of freedom".[7]

Electoral history[edit]

Election House Constituency Party Votes Result
1976 Chamber of Deputies Torino–Novara–Vercelli PR 12,518 checkY Elected
1979 Chamber of Deputies Naples–Caserta PR 35,498 checkY Elected
1979 European Parliament North-West Italy PR 97,955 checkY Elected
1983 Chamber of Deputies Milan–Pavia PR 18,620 checkY Elected
1984 European Parliament North-West Italy PR 107,171 checkY Elected
1987 Chamber of Deputies Palermo–Trapani–Agrigento–Caltanissetta PR 16,630 checkY Elected
1989 European Parliament Southern Italy Ind[a] 59,207 checkY Elected
1992 Chamber of Deputies Torino–Novara–Vercelli LP 23,302 checkY Elected
1994 European Parliament North-West Italy LP 98,005 checkY Elected
1999 European Parliament North-West Italy LB 77,032 checkY Elected
2004 European Parliament North-West Italy LB 13,456 checkY Elected
  1. ^ Elected in the Italian Republican Party list.


  1. ^ Eugenio Scalfari (20 May 2016). "Addio caro Marco. Noi, i primi radicali sempre insieme per le battaglie civili". la Repubblica. Archived from the original on 29 July 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  2. ^ Editorial Staff (20 May 2016). "Addio a Marco Pannella, il leader Radicale di mille battaglie". ANSA. Archived from the original on 13 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  3. ^ Sam Roberts (20 May 2016). "Marco Pannella, Italian Champion of Civil Liberties, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 February 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  4. ^ Eugenio Scalfari (19 May 2016). "Marco Pannella, morte di un libertario". Famiglia Cristiana. Archived from the original on 26 July 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Marco Pannella dead; maverick in Italian postwar politics was 86 | Newsday". Archived from the original on 21 May 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  6. ^ Reformer smokes cannabis before police. From Patricia Clough. The Times (London, England), Thursday, Jul 03, 1975; p. 4; Issue 59438.
  7. ^ a b c d "Marco Pannella, Maverick in Italian Postwar Politics, Dies". ABC News. 19 May 2016. Archived from the original on 20 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  8. ^ "Rome Colosseum in lights to protest death penalty". Reuters. 6 January 2007. Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Pope phones Pannella". 25 April 2014. Archived from the original on 27 April 2014. Retrieved 27 April 2014.
  10. ^ Pannella Steps down as Italy's Radical Leader. James Buxton. The Financial Times (London, England), Thursday, November 03, 1983; p. 2.
  11. ^ "' + ((text!=)?text:'...') + '". Archived from the original on 10 October 2008. Retrieved 22 September 2010.
  12. ^ Pannella: «Ho amato molto tre o quattro uomini» Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Corriere della Sera, 11 May 2010
  13. ^ Valter Vecellio, Marco Pannella. Biografia di un irregolare, Rubbettino, Rome, 2010, p. 172.
  14. ^ InfoOggi. "Addio a Marco Pannella, leader della lotta politica nonviolenta". (in Italian). Archived from the original on 20 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.

External links[edit]