The Italian statesman Amintore Fanfani (born in 1908) was one of the main exponents of the Christian Democrats after World War II and held many important political positions, including that of prime minister.
Professor and politician
Fanfani has had a double career as a university professor and politician. As a student of economic history he was the author of a series of important works on religion and the development of capitalism in Renaissance and Reformation Europe. His thesis was published in Italian and then in English as Catholicism, Capitalism and Protestantism in 1935. Fanfani accepted a professorship at the Catholic University of Milan in 1936. During this period he joined a group known as “the little professors” who lived ascetically in monastery cells and walked barefoot. These men formed the core of the Democratic Initiative, the liberal wing of the post-war Christian Democratic Party. From 1938 to 1943 he taught at the University of Venice. Called to military service in 1943, Fanfani took refuge in Switzerland where during the rest of the war he taught the Italians interned at the universities of Geneva and Lausanne. After 1955 he taught at the University of Rome.
His political career began with participation in Catholic youth groups during the Fascist period, in particular the Italian Catholic University Federation (FUCI) and Graduates (Catholic university graduates). With the end of the war, Fanfani emerged as one of the youngest leaders of the Christian Democrats and as a protégé of Alcide De Gasperi, leader of the party.
balance between capitalism and ChristianityAble administrator and organizer, Fanfani represented the socially more progressive left of the Christian Democratic Party. In his politics, as in his academic interests, Fanfani always fought to resolve the tensions between capitalism and Christianity. In line with his devoutly Christian beliefs, his aim was to mitigate the less charitable aspects of free enterprise and to infuse capitalism with a more socially conscious spirit.
In June 1946 Fanfani was elected to represent the area of Arezzo-Siena-Grosseto in the constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution with effect from 1 January 1948. The very first article of the constitution reflects the idea of Fanfani
work and philosophy. Firmly anti-communist, but socially progressive, Fanfani proposed an article that read: “Italy is a democratic republic founded on work”. His proposal, which was eventually accepted, opposed the communist version: “Italy is a democratic republic based on labour”. With a seemingly innocuous change of wording he avoided the class implication inherent in the communist formula.
In 1948 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. He entered the fourth, fifth and sixth Cabinet of Alcide De Gasperi, from 1947 to 1950 he was Minister of Labour and Social Security. During this period he implemented a seven-year plan for the construction of workers’ houses financed jointly by workers, the government and employers. Fanfani also played a significant role in the creation of non-communist trade unions that broke the monopoly of the General Federation of Communist-controlled labour. In 1951 he served as Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and accelerated agrarian reforms. In 1953 he was appointed Minister of the Interior under the leadership of Giuseppe Pella, and later became Secretary General of the Christian Democrats in 1954-1959 and 1973-1975.
From 1954 to the mid-1960s Fanfani’s influence in both party and national politics was at its peak. Fanfani was premier in a number of governments, some of them short-lived. His first government in 1954 lasted only 21 days. Later he led governments from July 1958 to January 1959, from July 1960 to February 1962.
From 1962 to May 1963. From 1965 to 1966 Fanfani was President of the United Nations General Assembly. In 1972 he was elected life senator of the Italian Senate. He was chosen as president of the Senate from 1968-1973, 1976-1982 and 1985-1987.
In the early 1960s, together with Aldo Moro, Fanfani became the architect of the Centre-Left Coalition. The governments of De Gasperi’s coalition, in the immediate post-war period, had been firmly anti-communist and were based on collaboration with the right and 8212; social democrats, liberals and republicans. However, in the 1950s, clerical influence on Christian Democracy diminished; in 1958 a liberal Pope, John XXIII, was elected and the Socialists loosened their ties with the Communists. Left wing coalitions became possible and Fanfani led his party in this direction. At the Christian Democrat congress in Naples in January 1962 an overwhelming majority voted for “opening to the left”. The programme of the centre-left coalition called for greater participation of the masses in the exercise of political power, the nationalisation of the electricity industry, the democratisation of the education system, the expansion of regional governments, the improvement of agriculture. In foreign affairs, the programme reaffirmed Italy’s alignment with the West, but undertook to work towards easing east-west tensions.
In 1986, when the Italian government was in crisis, President Francesco Cossiga turned to Fanfani for help. First he acted as mediator between the Socialist and Christian Democrat parties. But when these efforts failed, President Cossiga asked Fanfani to form a new Parliament in 1987. Fanfani was once again President of the Italian Council, but this position lasted only ten days, as his government lost confidence on 28 April 1987.
Other readings on Amintore Fanfani
Source on Fanfani in English are scarce. See “Fanfani” in Frank J. Coppa, ed., Dizionario di storia italiana moderna (1985). Italian sources are Piero Ottone, Fanfani (Milan, 1966); and Giorgio Galli, Fanfani (Milan, 1975).“Amintore Fanfani”. The International Who’s Who, 57th edition. England: Europa Publications Limited, 1993.
“Cabinet of Fanfani forms in Italy; Voting seen in June”. New York Times, 17th April 1987.
“Italy turns to Fanfani to form the government”. New York Times, 16 April 1987. Suro, Roberto.
“Ombudsman called to dissolve the cabinet crisis in Italy”. New York Times, 5 July 1986.
— “Italy falls and the June elections are called”. New York Times, April 29, 1987.
Tagliabul, Giovanni. “Fanfani was sworn in as head of the 46th post-war Italian Cabinet.” New York Times, April 19, 1987.