Zanardelli, Giuseppe


Zanardelli, Giuseppe
(1826–1903)
   Born in Brescia, as a young man Giuseppe Zanardelli was an active participant in the nationalist struggle. In 1848, and again in 1859, he led the citizens of Brescia in insurrections against Austrian rule. He entered Parliament in 1860 as a member of the constitutional left. After Agostino Depretis’s accession to power in 1876, he became minister for public works, then minister of the interior. In this role, he was responsible for the first liberalization of the electoral lawin 1880. Between 1881 and 1883 and 1887 and 1891, he was minister of justice under both Depretis and Francesco Crispi. During the second of these spells in office, he successfully introduced a new penal code which among other provisions abolished the death penalty. Zanardelli’s progressive sympathies caused him to look upon the trasformismo of Depretis with a less than charitable eye. From December 1897, Zanardelli did, however, participate in the second government of Antonio Starabba di Rudini and was one of the architects of the panicky repression of the socialist and Catholic movements in May 1898. Following the accession to power of Luigi Girolamo Pelloux, however, Zanardelli performed an enviable feat of political acrobatics and aligned himself with Giovanni Giolitti and the socialists against the Right. In addition to his occasional ministerial duties, Zanardelli held the post of president of the Chamber of Deputies for much of the decade. Zanardelli became prime minister in 1901, in the aftermath of the assassination of King Humbert I. His government, which was dominated by his political heir, Giovanni Giolitti, was the most liberal administration Italy had experienced since 1861. While prime minister Zanardelli unsuccessfully tried to introduce a divorce law. He held the post until his death in 1903.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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