Roberto Calderoli

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Roberto Calderoli
Minister of Legislative Simplification
In office
8 May 2008 – 16 November 2011
Prime MinisterSilvio Berlusconi
Succeeded byFilippo Patroni Griffi
Member of the Senate of the Republic
Assumed office
30 May 2001
ConstituencyLombardy (2001–06)
Piedmont (2006–08)
Lombardy (2008–present)
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
23 April 1992 – 29 May 2001
Personal details
Born (1956-04-18) 18 April 1956 (age 65)
Bergamo, Italy
Political partyLega Nord
Lega per Salvini Premier
ResidenceMozzo, Lombardy
ProfessionMaxillofacial surgeon

Roberto Calderoli (born 18 April 1956) is an Italian politician and a member of the Senate of Italy. He was a Minister without portfolio for Legislative Simplification in the Berlusconi IV Cabinet. He previously served as Minister without portfolio for Reforms and Devolution in the Berlusconi II Cabinet (since 20 June 2004) and in the Berlusconi III Cabinet (until 18 February 2006, when he resigned following the so-called "cartoon crisis"). Roberto Calderoli is a leading member of Lega Nord. He is regarded as representing the right wing of the political spectrum[1] and Bergamo, whereas Roberto Maroni represents the area originating from the left wing[citation needed] and Varese.

Calderoli is often the centre of public controversies, usually because of racist, xenophobic or offensive public remarks. Responding to criticism about a controversial electoral law that he penned in 2006, Calderoli affirmed that "I wrote [the law], but honestly it is a pig-sty (in Italian Porcata)."[2] In July 2013, Calderoli insulted Italy's first black Minister, Italo-Congolese Cécile Kyenge, saying: "Whenever I see Minister Kyenge, I cannot help but think of an orangutan".[3]


A native of Bergamo and a dentist like many of his relatives, Calderoli started his political experience with the Lega Lombarda, a precursor of the federated Northern League, of which he was the president in 1993 and national secretary between 1995 and 2002.

Between 1990 and 1995 he sat in the town council in Bergamo, and since 2002 he has been the coordinator of the national secretariat of the Northern League. He was an MP in the Chamber of Deputies between 1992 and 2001, as a representative of the Northern League-Padania, and for a while he was president of the Commission for Social Affairs.

In the 2001 elections he was elected to the Senate of Italy in the first-past-the-post constituency of Albino. He then became the vice-president of the Senate until July 2004, when he was appointed Minister for Institutional Reforms in the place of Umberto Bossi, the longtime leader of the Northern League who had suffered a serious stroke and could not perform his duties. During his mandate, he also wrote a new electoral law based on proportional representation with a strong majority premium rather than plurality voting system, which was first introduced in Italy in 1994 by a referendum. Successively, Calderoli himself criticized the electoral law he wrote by defining it una porcata (literally, "a piggish stuff").[4]

Calderoli is currently serving as secretary of Lega per Salvini Premier.[5]

New electoral law (2005)[edit]

A new electoral law was established in 2005 under Calderoli's rapporteurship, and then dubbed Calderoli Law, and it is a form of semi-proportional representation. A party presents its own closed list and it can join other parties in alliances. The coalition which receives a plurality automatically wins at least 26 seats. Respecting this condition, seats are divided between coalitions, and subsequently to party lists, using the largest remainder method with a Hare quota. To receive seats, a party must overcome the barrier of 8% of the vote if it contests a single race, or of 3% of the vote if it runs in alliance. The change in the electoral law was strongly requested by the UDC, and finally agreed by Berlusconi, although criticised (including by political scientist Giovanni Sartori) for its comeback to proportionalism and its timing, less than one year before general elections. Calderoli himself defined the electoral law as a porcata – a pork affair.

Cartoon crisis[edit]

During the international crisis sparked by the publishing of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons, on 8 February 2006, Calderoli made statements favourable to usage of force against Muslims and asked for the intervention of Pope Benedict XVI to form a "coalition", referencing the battles of Lepanto and Vienna.

On 15 February 2006, he announced he would wear a T-shirt with the Muhammad cartoons. Later that evening, just after the news broadcast on state flagship television station Rai Uno, during a live interview he said: "I am wearing one of those T-shirts even now", and promptly unbuttoned his shirt, revealing a T-shirt with a caricature emblazoned on it.[6] Though the press reported it to be one of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, it was actually the cartoon published on the France Soir's front page in the 1 February 2006 issue, the very day the same newspaper published the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Actually, Calderoli did not show one of the cartoons that caused the international crisis.[7]

The event was widely published in Libya (a former colony of Italy), and about 1,000 people gathered for a protest and began throwing rocks and bottles toward the Italian consulate in Benghazi which they set ablaze. In clashes with the police, at least eleven people died and twenty-five were wounded.[8]

Subsequently, Berlusconi asked Calderoli to resign because his act was against the government's political line, but, in an interview given to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Calderoli declared that he would not resign. He eventually gave in to the massive pressure coming from all parties (and lack of support in his own), and resigned on 18 February 2006.[9]


Following Italy's win against France in the 2006 World Cup Final, Calderoli criticized France for having "sacrificed its identity for results by fielding negroes, Muslims and Communists".[10][11][12] These comments drew many protests from the French embassy, the Italian Green Party (who said that Calderoli is "no better than the Ku Klux Klan"),[citation needed] and the Party of Italian Communists, among others.

Moreover, Calderoli said the centre-left government "would very probably have supported this France with no identity and the headbutts of Zidane".[citation needed]

In June 2008 Calderoli said in a TV interview: "It is obvious that there are ethnic groups and populations that are more inclined to work and others not. And there is greater predisposition for crime by someone over others."[13]

On 13 July 2013, Calderoli told a Northern League rally in Treviglio that Integration minister Cécile Kyenge, who was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but has Italian citizenship, would be better off working as a minister "in her country."[14] According to the Corriere della Sera, which reported the event, he added: "I love animals – bears and wolves, as is known – but when I see the pictures of Kyenge I cannot but think of the features of an orangutan, even if I'm not saying she is one."[14]

Comments on the Swiss vote to ban minarets[edit]

In November 2009, after a national referendum resulted in the changing the Swiss constitution so that it prohibited the construction of minarets, Calderoli told the Italian news agency ANSA that Switzerland had sent a clear signal: "Yes to church towers, no to minarets". He further stated that he wished Switzerland would act as a model for Italy in this regard.[15]


  1. ^ Bronner, Stephen Eric (2007). Peace Out of Reach: Middle Eastern Travels and the Search for Reconciliation. Lexington, Kentucky: The University of Kentucky Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0813172576.
  2. ^ "Calderoli: "La legge elettorale? L'ho scritta io, ma è una porcata"". La Repubblica. 15 March 2006. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  3. ^ "Calderoli: "Calderoli: Kyenge sembra un orango. Letta: inaccettabile. Grasso: chieda scusa"". Il Sole 24 Ore. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  4. ^ TV footage. Retrieved on 14 November 2008. (in Italian) Archived August 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^[bare URL]
  6. ^[bare URL]
  7. ^ Willey, David (2006-02-15). "Italy minister stirs cartoon row". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  8. ^ "Ten die in Libya cartoon clash". BBC News. 2006-02-18. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  9. ^ "Italy cartoon row minister quits". BBC News. 2006-02-18. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  10. ^ "Blatter: Zidane may lose best-player award." Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine Mail & Guardian online, 12 July 2006.
  11. ^ "Calderoli: «Una Francia fatta di negri e islamici»". Il Giornale, 11 July 2006. (in Italian)
  12. ^ Redazione Tgcom. "Ho fatto bagno nello spogliatoio". Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  13. ^ "Calderoli choc: "Ci sono etnie più predisposte a delinquere".", 4 June 2008. (in Italian)
  14. ^ a b Italian senator says black minister has 'features of orangutan' The Guardian, 14 July 2013
  15. ^ "International Muslim concern at minaret vote". Swissinfo. 29 November 2009.
Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Institutional Reforms
Succeeded by
New title Minister for Legislative Simplification
Succeeded by
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Giorgio Napolitano
as Former President of the Republic
Order of precedence of Italy
First Vice President of the Senate
Succeeded by
Ignazio La Russa
as Second Vice President of the Senate