Nichi Vendola

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Nichi Vendola
Nicola Vendola daticamera.jpg
President of Apulia
In office
27 April 2005 – 26 June 2015
Preceded byRaffaele Fitto
Succeeded byMichele Emiliano
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
23 April 1992 – 3 May 2005
ConstituencyBari-Foggia (1992–1994)
Bitonto (1994–1996)
Apulia (1996–2005)
In office
15 March 2013 – 16 April 2013
Personal details
Born (1958-08-26) 26 August 1958 (age 64)
Bari, Italy
Political partyItalian Left
Other political
PCI (1972–1991)
PRC (1991–2009)
SEL (2009–2017)
Domestic partnerEdward Testa (since 2004)
Alma materUniversity of Bari
Professionpolitician, journalist, writer
Website2010 - Nichi Vendola

Nicola "Nichi" Vendola (Italian pronunciation: [ˈniːki ˈvɛndola]; born 26 August 1958) is an Italian left-wing politician and LGBT activist who was a Member of the Chamber of Deputies from Apulia from 1992 to 2005 and President of Apulia from 2005 to 2015. He is one of the first openly LGBT Italian politicians and the first openly LGBT heads of a regional government in Italy.

Early life[edit]

Born in Terlizzi, in the province of Bari, on 26 August 1958,[1] Vendola was a member of the Italian Communist Youth Federation from the age of fourteen. He went on to study literature at his university, presenting a dissertation on the poet and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini.

Vendola became a journalist for l'Unità. He came out as gay in 1978,[2] and became an activist and a leading member of the Italian gay organisation Arcigay.[3] A member of the National Secretariat of the Italian Communist Party, he fiercely opposed the dissolution of the party proposed by Achille Occhetto in 1991.[4] This led to the formation of the Democratic Party of the Left. Vendola instead joined the Communist Refoundation Party.[5]

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Vendola during a SEL meeting.

In 1992, Vendola was elected to the Chamber of Deputies, to a seat which he held until 2005. As a member of the Antimafia Commission, he came to prominence as a strong opponent of the Mafia and organised crime.

Nichi Vendola participates at the Padua Pride 2002 with Imma Battaglia and Marco Cappato

In 2005, Vendola ran for the first primary election ever held in Italy, held by the centre-left coalition The Union to choose their candidate for the presidency of the Apulia region. He won the primary over the rival Francesco Boccia. Many moderates in the alliance criticised the choice, since it appeared impossible that a communist homosexual could be elected president of a southern Italian region such as Apulia, generally considered to be conservative and strongly Catholic.[6] Vendola identifies as a "believer" (in the line of Pax Christi): he once said that "the most important book for a communist like me is the Bible".

President of Apulia[edit]

In the regional election in Apulia, held in April 2005, he narrowly defeated the incumbent president Raffaele Fitto, candidate for the centre-right coalition the House of Freedoms. He was the first member of the Communist Refoundation Party to be elected as president of any Italian region.

In the July 2008 party congress, Vendola was one of the two major candidates running for the place of Chairman of the Communist Refoundation party; he lost to an alliance led by the other major candidate, Paolo Ferrero, formerly Minister for Social Solidarity in the Prodi II Cabinet. Following the defeat, Vendola's supporters have renounced all positions as party executives.

Nichi Vendola in Bari in 2009

On 24 January 2009, at Chianciano Terme, Vendola split from Communist Refoundation and founded the Movement for the Left. In December 2009, Vendola became the first leader of the newly founded party Left Ecology Freedom, which the Movement for the Left had merged into.

In late 2009, his candidacy for re-election was questioned by his centre-left allies from the Democratic Party. They asked him to step down to allow the choice of a candidate able to achieve wider support from other political parties, namely the Christian-democratic Union of the Centre. After Vendola refused to step down, chances of having a new primary election quickly increased.

After some weeks of heated debate, elections were called for 24 January 2010. Supported by the Democratic Party, Francesco Boccia ran as Vendola's challenger. Vendola easily won the election with more than 67% of the votes, was picked again as leader of the centre-left coalition, and went on to defeat centre-right candidate Rocco Palese by a wide margin.

In July 2010, during a general congress of the so-called "Factories of Nichi", Vendola announced his candidacy for the Primary Elections of the Italian centre-left. This voting was expected to foreshadow what might be expected in the 2013 Italian general elections. Nationwide polls showed Vendola winning over either Democratic Party Secretary Pier Luigi Bersani or Silvio Berlusconi, then Prime Minister of Italy. But came third in the primaries held on 25 November 2012 Vendola ranked third among the 5 candidates with 485,689 votes totaling 15.6%, failing to access the ballot.[7][8]

Nichi Vendola giving a speech at an LGBTI rights conference in 2012

In the general election of 2013 Vendola was the candidate of Apulia for the Chamber of deputies,[9] being elected for the 5th time.[10] On 6 March 2013, however, he announced that he would remain in charge of the Puglia Region, thus renouncing the seat in the Chamber. On 10 April 2013 he formalized his resignation as a deputy.[11]

Unable to apply for a third time as president of the region, in 2015 Vendola supported the former mayor of Bari Michele Emiliano who would go on to win the election with 47% of the votes.

On 17 December 2016, Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) was dissolved and merged with the Italian Left, on 19 February 2017.

In May 2021, Vendola was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, due to involvement in the Ilva scandal. He said he had been "condemned without a shred of evidence" and that he would appeal the ruling.[12]

Homophobic insults[edit]

During his political career he received insults related to his homosexuality. In 2012 he was insulted by Luigi Marattin, a member of the municipal government of Ferrara affiliated with the centre-left Democratic Party.[13] In October 2013 Alessandro Morelli, leader of the Lega Nord at the comune of Milan, published an image of Vendola on Facebook with the words "Gay and pedophile". Morelli apologized the next day.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Vendola has lived with his partner Edward "Ed" Testa since 2004.[15][16] In 2016, the couple used surrogacy in California to have a baby, Tobia Antonio.[17] Vendola is also a poet: some of his poems have been collected in a book, named L'ultimo mare ("The last sea"). His figure has inspired a biographical film, Nichi. Vendola is a devout Roman Catholic, although he opposes many of the church's social positions.[18]

On 17 October 2018, Vendola had a heart attack, but he is in no danger after being fitted with a stent at Rome's Gemelli Hospital.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Damiani, Marco (2011). "Nichi Vendola: For the New 'Laboratory' of the Italian Left" (PDF). Bulletin of Italian Politics. 3 (2): 371–390. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  2. ^ "Vi racconto i miei 22 anni di outing".
  3. ^ "Nichi Vendola, il "rosso-chiesa"".
  6. ^ Mark Mardell (6 April 2006). "Europe diary: Italian reds". BBC. Archived from the original on 22 December 2006. Retrieved 18 July 2007.
  7. ^ "Primarie, cronaca dello spoglio. Il governatore vince a Bari, Lecce e Brindisi". la Repubblica. 25 November 2012. Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  8. ^ Roberto Fuccillo (26 November 2012). "Primarie, Bersani fa il pieno in città la sorpresa è Vendola". la Repubblica (in Italian). Archived from the original on 1 December 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  9. ^ "CORRIERE DELL'UMBRIA - Sel, ecco la lista dei candidati: Vendola capo…". Archived from the original on 13 April 2013.
  10. ^ "Vendola: "Continuerò a fare il presidente della Puglia fino alla fine"". Il Fatto Quotidiano. Archived from the original on 15 October 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Doppio incarico, Nichi Vendola si dimette da deputato – Politica". Archived from the original on 15 October 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Italy judge hands Riva brothers prison terms over Ilva pollution". Reuters. 31 May 2021.
  13. ^ "Assessore Pd comune Ferrara insulta Vendola. Sel: Si dimetta". LaPresse. 2 November 2012. Archived from the original on 18 February 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
  14. ^ Il leghista su Facebook: "Vendola gay e pedofilo" Archived 7 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine, La Repubblica, 2 October 2013
  15. ^ "Scheda/ Vendola: "Voglio sposarmi" Eddy, compagno di vita da oltre 8 anni". La Repubblica. 4 September 2012. Archived from the original on 15 October 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  16. ^ Andrea Garibaldi (24 October 2010). "Eddy scatta foto in platea". Corriere della Sera. Archived from the original on 15 October 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  17. ^ "Nichi Vendola e il compagno Ed papà: negli Usa è nato Tobia Antonio. E il caso diventa politico". 28 February 2016. Archived from the original on 15 October 2018. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  18. ^ Mane, Saviona (20 August 2010). "Catholic, Communist and Gay". Haaretz. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  19. ^ "Vendola has heart attack, not in danger – English". 17 October 2018. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.

Further reading[edit]

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