|President of Apulia|
4 April 2005 – 1 June 2015
|Preceded by||Raffaele Fitto|
|Succeeded by||Michele Emiliano|
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
23 April 1992 – 3 May 2005
15 March 2013 – 16 April 2013
|Born||26 August 1958|
|Political party||Italian Left|
|Italian Communist Party|
Communist Refoundation Party
Left Ecology Freedom
|Domestic partner||Edward Testa (since 2004)|
|Alma mater||University of Bari|
|Profession||politician, Journalist, writer|
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.
Born in Terlizzi, in the province of Bari, on 26 August 1958, 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, and became an activist and a leading member of the Italian gay organisation Arcigay. 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. This led to the formation of the Democratic Party of the Left. Vendola instead joined the Communist Refoundation Party.
Member of Parliament
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 presence in the economy and society.
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. 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
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.
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 in order 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.
In the general election of 2013 Vendola was the candidate of Apulia for the Chamber of deputies, being elected for the 5th time. 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.
Unable to apply for a third time as president of the region, in 2015 Vendola supports the former mayor of Bari Michele Emiliano who will win with 47%.
During his political career he received insults related to his homosexuality. In 2012 he was insulted by a minister of Ferrara of the Democratic Party, Luigi Marattin. 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". The next day Morelli apologized.
Vendola live with his partner Edward "Ed" Testa since 2004. In 2016, the couple used surrogacy in California to have a baby, Tobia Antonio. 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.
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- "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.
- 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.
- http://www.corrieredellumbria.it/notizie/sel-lista-candidati-vendola-capolista-camera-natale-senato/006594[permanent dead link]
- "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.
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- "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.
- Il leghista su Facebook: "Vendola gay e pedofilo" Archived 7 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine, La Repubblica, 2 ottobre 2013
- "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.
- 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.
- "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.
- "Vendola has heart attack, not in danger - English". 17 October 2018. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
- Horowitz, Jason (19 January 2011). "Nichi Vendola, a gay, ex-communist governor, becomes the unlikely rival to Italy's Berlusconi". Washington Post. Retrieved 23 January 2011.
- Madar, Chase (January 2011). "Nichi Vendola, the Italian Obama". Le Monde diplomatique. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
- Mane, Saviona (20 October 2010). "Catholic, communist and gay". Haaretz. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
- Willan, Philip (12 December 2010). "Gay left-winger gives electorate a real alternative to Berslusconi era". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- (in Italian) La fabbrica di nichi
- "i-Italy Meets Nichi Vendola" (video). i-Italy. November 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2010.
- Could Puglia governor Nichi Vendola be 'Italy's Obama'?, BBC News profile of Vendola, December 2010