Fanfani, Amintore


Fanfani, Amintore
(1908–1999)
   Born in Arezzo (Tuscany), Fanfani was a boyhood founder of his hometown’s branch of Azione Cattolica. After serving in the army in World War I, he attended Milan’s Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in the 1920s, taking his research degree in economics in 1932. He joined the Partito Nazionale Fascista/National Fascist Party (PNF) in 1933, then Catholic University’s faculty, where he served until 1955, when he was appointed to the University of Rome, a position he held until 1983. As an economist, he wrote the standard textbook for Italian secondary schools on fascist corporatism.
   Fanfani shifted adroitly to the political center during the war. He became a member of the inner circle of the Democrazia Cristiana/ Christian Democracy Party (DC) in 1946, when he was chosen to serve on the steering committee of the party and was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946. He served under Alcide De Gasperi and Giuseppe Pella between 1948 and 1953 as minister for agriculture and minister for the interior. Finally, after an unsuccessful attempt at forming his own government, he was chosen party secretary in July 1954. In that post, he quickly showed himself able to match the organizational and technical skills of the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI). Younger Parliament members anxious to ride on his coattails were dubbed, in the press, Fanfaniani. His faction within the DC, Iniziativa democratica(Democratic Initiative) was a major force until its rise was checked by the emergence of the Dorotei, a center-right faction within the DC alarmed by Fanfani’s dynamism who preferred the more cautious talents of Aldo Moro.
   In the 1950s and 1960s, Fanfani was a statesman of genuine international standing. For instance, he was one of the few European statesman singled out for high praise by Charles de Gaulle in his memoirs (having played an active mediating role in the 1961–1962 argument between De Gaulle and the rest of the European Community over the desirability of creating a “Union of States” with powers over foreign and defense policy). He was prime minister three times between July 1958 and May 1963 and was the strongest exponent of the opening to the left, which would bring the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI) into the government. In June 1961, he discussed the question of bringing the PSI into the government with the newly elected John F. Kennedy; without the acquiescence of the U.S. government this move would not have been taken. More generally, he backed a modernizing agenda of economic and social reforms. Fanfani and the DC were heavily defeated in the 1963 elections, however, and he was replaced by his rival, Moro. He was compensated by becoming foreign minister and, in 1965, president of the United Nations General Assembly.
   In 1968, he was elected to the Senate and in 1972 was made senator for life. He again served as party secretary between 1973 and 1976; in the latter year, he was elected to preside over the Senate. One might have expected Fanfani’s career to terminate here, but, in fact, he continued to take an active part in politics almost until the 1990s. In 1974, he led the attempt by Catholic conservatives to overturn the law on divorce, warning the Italians—in lurid terms—that sexual morality would be undermined if the institution of marriage were threatened. Following President Giovanni Leone’s resignation in June 1978, Fanfani served as president of the Republic pro tempore for three weeks. In both 1982 and 1987, he formed stop-gap governments during moments of political crisis in the parliamentary majority. Fanfani, in short, did not shirk responsibility. His last government office, at the age of 80, was as budget minister in the turbulent administration led by Ciriaco De Mita (April 1988 to July 1989). Fanfani died in Rome in November 1999.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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