On the highest hill in Italy. Secrets, vetoes and anecdotes

Over the years, the election of the President of the Italian Republic has assumed an increasingly important significance for the stability and stability of the institutions following the crisis of the political-parliamentary system. Republican history, or more precisely “quirinalizia”, ​​reminds us from its inception of the presence of controversial, charismatic, interventionist heads of state, determined to go beyond the simple “moral suasion”. To understand this delicate and subtle game of chess, played more in the back of the building, here is Valdo Spini, teacher, intellectual, former deputy secretary and socialist minister, tells the life, stories and secrets of the most awaited and followed election in the country. On the highest hill it is in fact his new book (Solferino) that comes out in conjunction with the election of the successor of President Mattarella. One of the most interesting changes in the book is the opening of a chapter on De Gasperi. Valdo Spini, quoting Prof. Giuseppe Tognon, inserts the historic Prime Minister as the first President of the Republic. In the aftermath of the referendum, there was a very hard clash between the government and the royal house (it is said that the Marquis Falcone Lucifero had even thrown the glasses of the Christian Democrat leader).

De Gasperi on 12 June 1946 convened an urgent Council of Ministers, proclaimed the Republic and “at the time as the lieutenant decree prescribed”, as prime minister he also assumed the office of provisional head of state which he handed over to De Nicola on 28 June . In 1948, after the elections, experienced as a civil conflict, the De Gasperi government, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, decided for the first time to appoint a head of state no longer voted by a large majority – as happened for De Nicola – but with political vote of the government forces, with the exclusion of the left. The election rewarded Einaudi, but De Gasperi initially focused on Count Sforza, stopped by the appearance for the first time of the famous “snipers”, supposedly the left Dossettian DC. Einaudi was the first to make use of Article 59 of the Constitution by appointing five senators for life including Toscanini and Trilussa. Antonio Segni, was wanted by Moro to balance the “opening to the left” of the DC and was elected on the ninth ballot with the votes also of the MSI. The appointment of a third president of the Republic of the Christian Democratic area clashed with vetoes on Leone and Fanfani.

It seems that the latter had been stopped by Pope Montini so much that a large group of DC contested the incident by writing on the card “Montini”, a surname also attributable to the brother of the Holy Father, being a parliamentarian (DC). On the twenty-first ballot, the Social Democrat Saragat was elected on 29 December 1964 with 646 votes out of 963. Atlantist, respectful of parliamentary will, he appointed his historical rival Nenni as a senator for life. In one of his personal meetings, Valdo Spini recounts that the former president spoke to him about Carlo Rosselli, with whom he had spent exile in Paris, and had given him a copy of the famous Liberal Socialism with a very special dedication: ” The most Marxist of the liberals to the most liberal of the Marxists ”. If twenty-one ballots seem like a lot, the subsequent election was even harder, that of Leo which reached twenty-three votes. Leone manages to overcome the dualism of the DC in which two strong candidates had appeared, the real one from Fanfani and the more hidden one from Moro who would certainly have obtained a wide consensus in the left.

The vote of the MSI was decisive, so much so that Spini writes, Ugo La Malfa had advised Berlinguer not to put the DC in difficulty, which risked a profound internal crisis. Response of the communist secretary: “But if the DC goes into crisis, do I have to wear a black tie?”. The ideal candidate to succeed Leone was to be Ugo La Malfa, historical leader of the Republicans. The parties, including the DC, strongly shaken by the killing of Moro, each play their own game and to take advantage of all this is the pacing new socialist leader Bettino Craxi, determined to bring a socialist to the Quirinale. Impassable road that nevertheless completed. Obviously he did not mention Pertini’s name but presented a trio of names including Vassalli and Giolitti. But in the end, the historic socialist fighter acquired a stake and on 8 July 1978 at the sixteenth ballot with 832 votes out of 995 he became president. Almirante’s MSI voted blank, but after the presidential message the Missino leader said: “He forced us to applaud him.” The election of Pertini is Craxi’s first real political victory. Under the Pertini presidency, the first non-DC-led government was born with the republican Spadolini and the socialist with Craxi. At the end of the seven-year term, Pertini was eighty-nine years old, and De Mita, secretary of the DC, wanted to break the socialist axis between Quirinale and Palazzo Chigi, so much so that, as Spini tells us, Craxi eventually supported Cossiga and the elderly president by meeting De Mita at the buvette said: “De Mita, you have won. Offer me at least a cappuccino! “. There is still room for many memories, such as the “beautiful collaboration” with Scalfaro and the friendship with Carlo Azeglio Ciampi of which he was also minister. Spini reveals a little secret that characterized Ciampi and his demanding work. That is a short nap after lunch to recharge. From the broad convergence on Ciampi, the parties will split (the first time) on the name of Napolitano, the only president to be re-elected twice, as well as the first post-communist to go up to the Quirinale. Hence the return of a “Christian Democrat”, Sergio Mattarella, of whom Spini appreciates the wisdom with which he has resolved the many crises that have occurred under his presidency. Spini’s book is therefore a cross-section of history and personal memories of those who lived from inside the building, with seriousness and passion, an important part of Italian political and institutional life that culminates precisely On the highest hill of Italy.

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