De Nicola, Enrico

(1877–1959)
   President of Italy between 1946 and 1948, Enrico De Nicola was a figure of notable institutional standing in the final years of Italian liberalism. Politically close to Giovanni Giolitti, he was elected to Parliament for the first time in 1909. In June 1920, he became speaker of the Chamberof Deputies, a post he held until December 1923. Like many liberals, his attitude toward Fascism was equivocal. In 1924, he was included in the list of approved Fascist candidates by Mussolini, but shortly before the ballot he withdrew his nomination. Despite being nominated to the Senate in 1929, De Nicola played no political role during the Fascist period.
   De Nicola returned to active politics after the fall of Mussolini. In the spring of 1944, he resolved the crisis caused by the democratic parties’ reluctance to take part in the administration of Alliedoccupied Italy so long as Victor Emmanuel III retained the throne by suggesting that Prince Humbert should be made LieutenantGeneral of the Realm. This scheme paved the way for the creation of the first government of Ivanoe Bonomi in June 1944. De Nicola was subsequently elected president of the Republic by the Constitutional Assembly and oversaw the process of drawing up the Constitution of 1948. In that year, he was offered the opportunity to be postwar Italy’s first constitutionally elected head of state, but he stepped aside in favor of Luigi Einaudi. He was made a life member of the Senate. In 1951–1952, he was briefly president of the Senate and, in 1955, became president of the Constitutional Court, a post he held for two years. He died in his native Naples in 1959.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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