Tambroni, Fernando


Tambroni, Fernando
(1901–1963)
   Born in Ascoli Piceno, by the mid-1920s Tambroni was an ambitious young lawyer, a prominent activist in the Federazione Universitaria Cattolici Italiana/ Catholic University Graduates’Movement (FUCI), and a functionary of the Partito Popolare Italiana/Italian Popular Party (PPI). His detractors argue that the aftermath of his 1926 arrest for alleged antiregime activity—which was cited in his 1963 obituary notice— revealed a certain opportunism. His arrest was presented as showing him to be antifascist, but no mention was made of his immediately joining the Partito Nazionale Fascista/National Fascist Party (PNF). Such expediency, while not unusual in itself, makes more comprehensible his brief but turbulent spell in 1960 as the head of a government with dramatic implications for the future. Tambroni returned to the PPI in time to be elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1946 and to take up a place in the Democrazia Cristiana/ Christian Democracy Party (DC). Service in several of Alcide De Gasperi’s governments (January 1950 to June 1953) and in governments headed by Giuseppe Pella and Amintore Fanfani, to whom he grew very close, led to service as minister of the interior under Antonio Segni (February 1959 to February 1960). When the Partito Liberale Italiano/Italian Liberal Party (PLI) withdrew its support from that government, the DC became dependent on the neofascist Movimento Sociale Italiano/Italian Social Movement (MSI) for a parliamentary majority. Segni consequently resigned. After several unsuccessful attempts at forming another government, President Giovanni Gronchi turned to Tambroni, asking him to form a government pledged to resign after completing the budgetary process. When Tambroni’s government won a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies (8 April 1960) through the support of four monarchists and the MSI, three cabinet members and an undersecretary immediately resigned. President Gronchi, with the backing of the executive committee of the DC, then persuaded Parliament to give Tambroni a limited mandate to steer the budget through both houses, then resign. Tambroni, however, had other ambitions. He announced sweeping schemes for new investment as well as higher wages and subsidies for entire categories of the workforce.
   Emboldened by its entry into Italian political life, the hitherto ostracized MSI declared its intention to hold its annual convention in Genoa in July 1960. Genoa was the city in which partisans had accepted the surrender of General Meinhold’s 11,000 German troops in 1945 and had the port operating when Allied armies arrived. Aneofascist convention there was seen as a calculated affront. From Sicily to Milan spontaneous protests erupted. Police repression was of a ferocity not seen in a decade. By mid-July, 10 demonstrators had been killed. The political right extolled Tambroni for restoring order, while moderate and left opinion deplored the rebirth of the conditions that had preceded the advent of Fascism. Italy seemed on the verge of civil war. On 19 July, Tambroni resigned. His party had no alternative but to become what Aldo Moro cited Alcide De Gasperi as having called a “center party moving to the left.” From 1960 until 1994, the MSI was excluded from any part in national governments. Moro used the incident to persuade major DC constituencies that there was no alternative to the opening to the left, while Tambroni sank into an obscurity from which he never recovered. He died in Rome three years after his dramatic fall from grace.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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