Sergio Mattarella

Chamber of Deputies (Italy) Italy Giuliano Amato

Sergio Mattarella

Presidente Sergio Mattarella.jpg
12th President of Italy
Assumed office
3 February 2015
Prime MinisterMatteo Renzi
Paolo Gentiloni
Giuseppe Conte
Preceded byGiorgio Napolitano
Judge of the Constitutional Court
In office
11 October 2011 – 2 February 2015
Appointed byItalian Parliament
Minister of Defence
In office
22 December 1999 – 11 June 2001
Prime MinisterMassimo D'Alema
Giuliano Amato
Preceded byCarlo Scognamiglio
Succeeded byAntonio Martino
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
In office
21 October 1998 – 22 December 1999
Prime MinisterMassimo D'Alema
Preceded byWalter Veltroni
Succeeded byGianfranco Fini
Minister of Public Education
In office
22 July 1989 – 27 July 1990
Prime MinisterGiulio Andreotti
Preceded byGiovanni Galloni
Succeeded byGerardo Bianco
Minister for Parliamentary Relations
In office
28 July 1987 – 22 July 1989
Prime MinisterGiovanni Goria
Ciriaco De Mita
Preceded byGaetano Gifuni
Succeeded byEgidio Sterpa
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
12 July 1983 – 28 April 2008
ConstituencySicily (1983–2001; 2006–08)
Trentino-Alto Adige (2001–06)
Personal details
Born (1941-07-23) 23 July 1941 (age 79)
Palermo, Kingdom of Italy
Political partyDC (Before 1994)
PPI (1994–2002)
DL (2002–2007)
PD (2007–2008)
Independent (2008–present)
Marisa Chiazzese
(m. 1966; died 2012)
Children3 (Laura, Bernardo Giorgio, and Francesco)
ResidenceQuirinal Palace
Alma materSapienza University

Sergio Mattarella OMRI OMCA (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsɛrdʒo mattaˈrɛlla]; born 23 July 1941) is an Italian politician, jurist, academic and lawyer, who is serving as the 12th and current President of Italy since February 2015.

Mattarella was previously Minister for Parliamentary Relations from 1987 to 1989, Minister of Public Education from 1989 to 1990, Deputy Prime Minister of Italy from 1998 to 1999 and Minister of Defence from 1999 to 2001. In 2011, he became an elected judge on the Constitutional Court. On 31 January 2015, he was elected by the Italian Parliament to serve as President of the Italian Republic.

Early life

Sergio Mattarella with his father Bernardo, in 1963

Sergio Mattarella was born in Palermo, in a prominent Sicilian family. His father, Bernardo Mattarella, was an anti-fascist who, alongside Alcide De Gasperi and other prominent Catholic politicians, founded the Christian Democracy (DC), which dominated the Italian political scene for almost fifty years, with Bernardo serving as a minister several times;[1] while his mother, Maria Buccellato, came from an higher middle class family of Trapani.[2][3]

During his youth, Mattarella moved to Rome, due to his father's commitments to politics. In Rome, he became a member of Catholic Action (AC), a large Catholic lay association, of which he became the regional chairman for Lazio from 1961 to 1964.[4]

After attending the classical lyceum San Leone Magno in Rome,[5] he studied law at the Sapienza University of Rome, where he joined the Catholic Federation of University Students (FUCI).[6] In 1964 he graduated with merit with the thesis The function of political direction.[7]

In 1967, he became a lawyer in Palermo, becoming particularly involved in administrative law.[8] After a few years, Mattarella started teaching parliamentary procedure at the University of Palermo, where he remained until 1983. His academic activity and publications had mainly concerned constitutional law topics, the intervention of the Sicilian Region in economy, bicameralism, legislative procedure, expropriation allowance, evolution of the Sicilian regional administration and controls on local authorities.[9]

In 1966, he married Marisa Chiazzese, daughter of Lauro Chiazzese, former rector of the University of Palermo, with whom he had three children: Laura, Francesco and Bernardo.[10]

On 6 January 1980, his older brother, Piersanti Mattarella, who was also a Christian Democratic politician and President of Sicily since 1978, was killed by the Sicilian Mafia in Palermo.[11] This event deeply changed Mattarella's life, in fact he left his academic career to enter politics.[12]

Political career


Mattarella's parliamentary career began in 1983, when he was elected a member of the Chamber of Deputies in left-leaning faction of the DC that had supported an agreement with the Italian Communist Party (PCI) led by Enrico Berlinguer, the so-called Historic Compromise. The following year he was entrusted by the Secretary of the Christian Democrat, Ciriaco De Mita, to "clean up" the Sicilian faction of the party from Mafia control, at a time when men of honour of Cosa Nostra like Salvo Lima and Vito Ciancimino were powerful political figures.[13] In 1985 Mattarella helped the young lawyer Leoluca Orlando, who had worked alongside his brother Piersanti during his governorship of Sicily, to become the new Mayor of Palermo.

Mattarella was appointed Minister for Parliamentary Affairs in the governments led by Christian Democratic Prime Ministers Giovanni Goria and Ciriaco De Mita, and in 1989 he became Minister of Public Education in the sixth cabinet of Giulio Andreotti. Mattarella stood down from his position, together with other ministers, in 1990 upon parliament's passing of the Mammì Act, liberalising the media sector in Italy, which they saw as a favour to the media magnate Silvio Berlusconi.[14]


Sergio Mattarella in 1994

In 1990 Mattarella was appointed Vice-Secretary of Christian Democracy. He left the post two years later to become director of Il Popolo, the official newspaper of the party. Following the Italian referendum of 1993 he drafted the new electoral law nicknamed Mattarellum.[15] In 1994, when Christian Democracy was dissolved in the wake of the Tangentopoli corruption scandal, he helped found the Italian People's Party (PPI), along with its first leader Mino Martinazzoli and other former Christian Democrats.[14] In the ensuing 1994 general election (in which the newly founded PPI fared poorly) Martinazzoli was again elected to the Chamber of Deputies.[16] He soon found himself engaged in an internal dispute after the election of a new party leader, Rocco Buttiglione, who wished to steer the Italian People's Party towards an electoral alliance with Berlusconi's Forza Italia.[14] Following Buttiglione's appointment, Mattarella resigned as director of Il Popolo in opposition to this policy.[17]

Mattarella was one of the first supporters of the economist Romano Prodi at the head of the centre-left coalition known as The Olive Tree (L'Ulivo) in the 1996 general election. After the electoral victory of the centre-left, Mattarella served as President of the PPI's parliamentary group. Two years later, when Prodi's first government fell, Mattarella was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in the government of Massimo D'Alema, then-leader of the Democrats of the Left (DS). As Minister of Defence he supported the NATO Intervention in Yugoslavia against the Serbian President Slobodan Milošević; he also approved a reform of the Italian Armed Forces which abolished conscription. After the resignation of D'Alema in 2000, Mattarella kept his position as Minister of Defence in the government of Giuliano Amato.[14]


Mattarella with the U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen in March 2000

In October 2000 the PPI joined with other centrist parties to form an alliance called The Daisy (DL), later to merge into a single party in March 2002. Mattarella was re-elected to the Italian Parliament in the 2001 and 2006 general elections, standing as a candidate for The Daisy in two successive centre-left coalitions – The Olive Tree and The Union (L'Unione).[16]

In 2007 he was one of the founders of the Democratic Party (PD), a big tent centre-left party formed from a merger of left-wing and centrist parties which had been part of The Olive Tree, including The Daisy and the Democrats of the Left (heirs of the Italian Communist Party).[14]

On 5 October 2011 he was elected by the Italian Parliament with 572 votes to be a judge of the Constitutional Court. He was sworn in on 11 October 2011. He served until he was sworn in as President of the Italian Republic.[18][16]

President of Italy

Sergio Mattarella with his predecessor, Giorgio Napolitano

On 31 January 2015 Mattarella was elected President of the Italian Republic at the fourth ballot with 665 votes out of 1,009, with support from the Democratic Party (PD), New Centre-Right (NCD), Civic Choice (SC), Union of the Centre (UDC) and Left Ecology Freedom (SEL).[19][20]

Mattarella was officially endorsed by the Democratic Party after his name was put forward by the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.[21] Mattarella replaced Giorgio Napolitano, who had served for nine years, the longest presidency in the history of the Italian Republic. However, since Napolitano had resigned on 14 January, Senate President Pietro Grasso was the Acting President at the time of Mattarella's inauguration on 3 February. Mattarella's first statement as new President was: "My thoughts go first and especially to the difficulties and hopes of our fellow citizens".[22][23][24]

His first presidential visit was on the day of his election, when he visited the Fosse Ardeatine where, in 1944 during World War II, the Nazi occupation troops killed 335 people as a reprisal for a partisan attack. Mattarella stated that "Europe and the world must be united to defeat whoever wants to drag us into a new age of terror".[25]

On 6 May 2015 Mattarella signed the new Italian electoral law, known as Italicum, which provides for a two-round system based on party-list proportional representation, corrected by a majority bonus and a 3% election threshold. Candidates run for election in 100 multi-member constituencies with open lists, except for a single candidate chosen by each party who is the first to be elected.

2016 political crisis

Mattarella and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, April 2017

On Sunday 4 December 2016, a constitutional referendum was held in Italy.[26] Voters were asked whether they approve a constitutional law that amends the Italian Constitution to reform the composition and powers of the Parliament of Italy,[27] as well as the division of powers between the State, the regions, and administrative entities.

The bill, put forward by then- Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi, and his centre-left Democratic Party, was first introduced by the government in the Senate on 8 April 2014. After several amendments were made to the proposed law by both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, the bill received its first approval on 13 October 2015 (Senate) and 11 January 2016 (Chamber), and, eventually, its second and final approval on 20 January 2016 (Senate) and 12 April 2016 (Chamber).[28]

In accordance with Article 138 of the Constitution, a referendum was called after the formal request of more than one fifth of the members of both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies,[29] since the constitutional law had not been approved by a qualified majority of two-thirds in each house of parliament in the second vote.[30] 59.11% of voters voted against the constitutional reform, meaning it did not come into effect.[31] This was the third constitutional referendum in the history of the Italian Republic; the other two were in 2001 (in which the amending law was approved) and in 2006 (in which it was rejected).

The constitutional reform was rejected with almost 60% of votes, and on 7 December 2016, Prime Minister Renzi announced his resignation. On 11 December Mattarella appointed the incumbent Minister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni as new head of the government.[32][33]

2018 general election

The March 2018 election resulted in a hung parliament, with no coalitions able to form a majority of seats in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic. The election was seen as a backlash against the establishment with the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League becoming the two largest parties in the Parliament.[34][35]

After the election's results were known, Luigi Di Maio, leader of the M5S, and Matteo Salvini, secretary of the League, each urged that Mattarella should give him the task of forming a new cabinet because he led the largest party or coalition, respectively.[36] On 5 March, Matteo Renzi announced that the PD would be in the opposition during this legislature and that he would resign as party leader when a new cabinet was formed.[37] On 6 March, Salvini repeated his campaign message that his party would refuse any coalition with the Five Star Movement.[38] On 14 March, Salvini nonetheless offered to govern with the M5S, imposing the condition that League ally Forza Italia, led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, must also take part in any coalition. Di Maio rejected this proposal on the grounds that Salvini was "choosing restoration instead of revolution" because "Berlusconi represents the past".[39] Moreover, a Five Star leader, Alessandro Di Battista, denied any possibility of an alliance with Forza Italia, describing Berlusconi as the "pure evil of our country".[40]

Mattarella with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, 24 March 2018

The consultations between Mattarella and the political parties on 4 and 5 April failed to result in a candidate for Prime Minister, forcing Mattarella to hold another round of consultation between 11 and 12 April 2018.[41]

On 18 April 2018 Mattarella tasked the President of the Senate, Elisabetta Casellati, with trying to reconcile the issues between the centre-right and the Five Star Movement, in order to break the post-election political deadlock and form a fully functional new government.[42][43] However she failed to find a solution to the conflicts between the two groups, especially between the M5S and Forza Italia.[44] [45] On 23 April 2018, after Casellati's failure, Mattarella gave an exploratory mandate to the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Roberto Fico, to try to create a political agreement between the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party.[46][47][48] However, on 30 April, following an interview of the PD's former leader Matteo Renzi in which he expressed his strong opposition to an alliance with the M5S, Di Maio called for new elections.[49][50][51]

On 7 May, Mattarella held a third round of government formation talks, after which he formally confirmed the lack of any possible majority (M5S rejecting an alliance with the whole centre-right coalition, PD rejecting an alliance with both M5S and the centre-right coalition, and the League's Matteo Salvini refusing to form a government with M5S unless it included Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, whose presence in the government was explicitly vetoed by M5S's leader Luigi Di Maio); as a result, he announced his intention to soon appoint a "neutral government" (ignoring M5S and the League's refusal to support such an option) to take over from the Gentiloni Cabinet which was considered unable to lead Italy into a second consecutive election as it represented a majority from a past legislature, and suggested an early election in July (which would be the very first summer general election in Italy) as an option in light of the ongoing deadlock.[52] The Lega and M5S agreed to hold new elections on 8 July, an option that was however rejected by all other parties.[53][54][55]

On 9 May, after a day of rumours, M5S and the League officially asked Mattarella to give them 24 more hours to strike a coalition agreement between the two parties.[56] Later the same day, in the evening, Silvio Berlusconi publicly announced that Forza Italia would not support an M5S-League government on a vote of confidence, but would nevertheless maintain the centre-right alliance, thus opening the door to a possible majority government between the two parties.[57] On 13 May, the Five Star Movement and League reached an agreement in principle on a government program, likely clearing the way for the formation of a governing coalition between the two parties, but they could not agree regarding the members of a government cabinet, most importantly the prime minister. M5S and League leaders met with Mattarella on 14 May to guide the formation of a new government.[58] At their meeting with Mattarella, both parties asked for an additional week of negotiations to agree on a detailed government program, as well as a prime minister to lead the joint government. Both M5S and the League announced their intention to ask their respective members to vote on the government agreement by the weekend.

Mattarella with Giuseppe Conte at the Quirinal Palace.

On 21 May 2018, a private law professor, Giuseppe Conte, was proposed by Di Maio and Salvini for the role of Prime Minister in the 2018 Italian government.[59][60][61] Despite reports in the Italian press suggesting that Mattarella still had significant reservations about the direction of the new government,[62] Conte was invited to the Quirinal Palace on 23 May 2018 to receive the presidential mandate to form a new cabinet.[63][64] In the traditional statement after the appointment, Conte said that he would be the "defense lawyer of Italian people".[65]

However, on 27 May, Conte renounced his mandate, due to conflicts between Salvini and Mattarella. Salvini had proposed university professor Paolo Savona as Finance Minister, but Mattarella strongly opposed the appointment, considering Savona too Eurosceptic and anti-German.[66] In his speech after Conte's resignation, Mattarella declared that the two parties wanted to bring Italy out of the Eurozone and that, as the guarantor of the Italian Constitution and the country's interest and stability, he could not allow this. Mattarella subsequently gave economist Carlo Cottarelli the presidential mandate to form a new government[67][68][69]

Mattarella's decision prompted furious reactions from the Five Star Movement, who called for Mattarella's impeachment, a move also supported by opposition party Brothers of Italy.[70] The League did not support this action.[71]

Calls for impeachment were strongly criticized by Italian and international press: Luciano Fontana (editor of Corriere della Sera) defended Mattarella and said that "Di Maio and Salvini are responsible of this crisis", Mario Calabresi (editor of la Repubblica) dismissed impeachment proposals as "delirious" while La Stampa called Di Maio and Meloni's proposal "extremely irresponsible".[72] HuffPost editor Lucia Annunziata dismissed Di Maio and Salvini as "liars", newsmagazine L'Espresso called them "subversive", while Le Monde praised Mattarella as an "intransigent guardian of the Constitution". The president was also defended by The Guardian, Libération and Der Spiegel; German business newspaper Handelsblatt even titled "Forza Mattarella!" ("Go Mattarella!")[73][74][75][76] Marco Travaglio and Maurizio Belpietro (editors of Il Fatto Quotidiano and La Verità) criticized Mattarella's move as an abuse, but recognized that it was not sufficient to start an impeachment procedure.[77][78]

On 31 May Giuseppe Conte received again the presidential mandate to form the new cabinet.[79] The new government was sworn in on 1 June.

2019 political crisis

President Mattarella during the August 2019 consultations.

In August 2019, deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini announced a motion of no confidence against Conte, after growing tensions within the majority.[80] Many political analysts believe the no-confidence motion was an attempt to force early elections to improve Lega's standing in Parliament, ensuring that Salvini would become the next prime minister.[81] On 20 August, following the parliamentary debate in which Conte harshly accused Salvini of being a political opportunist who "had triggered the political crisis only to serve his personal interest",[82] the prime minister resigned his post to President Mattarella.[83] On the following day, Mattarella started the consultations with parliamentary groups.[84]

During the round of the so-called consultations between Mattarella and the parliamentary groups, a possible new majority emerged, between the Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party.[85] On 28 August, PD's leader Nicola Zingaretti announced at the Quirinal Palace his favorable position on keeping Giuseppe Conte at the head of the new government,[86] and on following day, Mattarella received Conte to give him the task of forming a new cabinet.[87] On 4 September, Conte announced the composition of his new cabinet, which was sworn in at the Quirinal Palace on the following day.[88] On 9 September 2019, the Chamber of Deputies granted the confidence to the government with 343 votes in favour, 263 against and 3 abstentions.[89][90] On 10 September 2019, in the second vote of confidence in the Senate, 169 lawmakers voted in favour of the new government and 133 voted against.[91]

Coronavirus pandemic

During Mattarella's presidency, Italy was hit by a major outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2020, Italy became one of the countries with the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.[92] As of August 2020, more than 255,000 coronavirus cases and 35,000 deaths were confirmed, affecting mainly the regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto and Piedmont.[93]

Mattarella at the Victor Emmanuel II Monument during the Liberation Day in April 2020, wearing protection mask

On 22 February, the Council of Ministers announced a bill to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, quarantining more than 50,000 people from 11 different municipalities in Northern Italy. After few days, schools and universities closed in the whole country.[94] On 8 March 2020, the Italian government extended the quarantine to the entire region of Lombardy and 14 other northern provinces, putting more than a quarter of the national population under lockdown.[95] On the following day, the government extended the quarantine measures previously applied only in the so-called "red zones" to the whole country, putting de facto 60 million people in lockdown.[96][97] At the time of its application, this measure was described as the largest lockdown in human history.[98][99][100][101] On 18 May, the lockdown officially ended and the government allowed the re-openings of bars, restaurants, barbers and gyms.[102] The possibility to travel between different regions was restored on 3 June.[103]

Personal life

He was married to Marisa Chiazzese, daughter of Lauro Chiazzese, a professor of Roman law and rector of the University of Palermo. His wife died in 2012. He has three children:[104] Bernardo Giorgio (born 1968),[105] Laura (1968) and Francesco (1973).

His brother, Piersanti Mattarella, was murdered in 1980 in Sicily by Cosa Nostra while serving as President of the Regional Government of Sicily. Another brother, Antonio Mattarella, has been appointed Managing Director of the Investment Banking division of Goldman Sachs from 2005 to 2017.[106][107]

His daughter, Laura, acted as de facto First Lady, accompanying her father in the official trips outside Italy.

Electoral history

Election House Constituency Party Votes Result
1983 Chamber of Deputies Palermo–Trapani–Agrigento–Caltanissetta DC 119,969 ☑Y Elected
1987 Chamber of Deputies Palermo–Trapani–Agrigento–Caltanissetta DC 143,935 ☑Y Elected
1992 Chamber of Deputies Palermo–Trapani–Agrigento–Caltanissetta DC 50,280 ☑Y Elected
1994 Chamber of Deputies Sicily 1 PPI [a] ☑Y Elected
1996 Chamber of Deputies Sicily 1 PPI [a] ☑Y Elected
2001 Chamber of Deputies Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol DL [a] ☑Y Elected
2006 Chamber of Deputies Sicily 1 Ulivo [a] ☑Y Elected
  1. ^ a b c d Elected in a closed list proportional representation system.

Presidential elections

2015 presidential election (4th ballot)
Candidate Coalition Votes %
Sergio Mattarella Centre-left coalition 665 65.9
Ferdinando Imposimato Five Star Movement 127 12.6
Others / Invalid votes 217 21.5
Total 1,009 100.0


National honours

Foreign honours


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