sergio mattarella born 23rd July 1941

On this day in history: Italy’s 12th President born

History of Italy

The first Sicilian to become President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, was born on 23rd July 1941 in Palermo. He became a politician following the assassination of his brother in 1980.

Mattarella’s father, Bernado, was an anti-Fascist, who with other prominent Catholic politicians helped found the Christian Democrat (Democrazia Cristiana) party. They dominated the Italian political scene for almost 50 years, with Bernardo serving as a minister several times. Piersanti Mattarella, Sergio’s brother, was also a Christian Democrat politician.

Mattarella went into politics after the assassination of his brother by the Mafia in 1980. His brother had been killed while holding the position of President of the Regional Government of Sicily.

Sergio Mattarella graduated in Law from the Sapienza University of Rome. A few years later started teaching parliamentary procedure at the University of Palermo.

Sergio Mattarella’s political career

Sergio Mattarella began his parliamentary career began in 1983 when he was elected a member of the Chamber of Deputies. The following year he was entrusted with cleansing the Sicilian faction of the party from Mafia control by DC Secretary Ciriaco De Mita.

Mattarella was appointed Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and subsequently Minister of Education. He stood down from his post, along with other ministers, in 1990 when parliament passed an act liberalising the media sector in Italy. He saw it as a favour to media magnate Silvio Berlusconi.

Mattarella became director of the Christian Democrat newspaper, Il Popolo. When the DC was dissolved following Tangentopoli, he helped form the Italian People’s party.

In 2007, Mattarella was one of the founders of the Democratic Party, a merger of left-wing and centre parties. Four years later, he was elected a Judge of the Constitutional Court in 2011. He served for nearly four years.

Mattarella was elected President of the Italian Republic in 2015, replacing Giorgio Napoletano who had served for nine years. In 2022, Mattarella was encouraged to stand again as President in order to prevent a political crisis in Italy.

Later the same year, he initially rejected PM Mario Draghi’s resignation following the collapse of the unity coalition government. However, when more parties failed to support Draghi, he reluctantly accepted his resignation a week later, dissolved parliament and called snap elections.

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