Orlando, Leolucca

(1948– )
   One of the most flamboyant and courageous personalities of recent Italian politics, Leoluca Orlando made his reputation as a reformist Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC) mayor of Palermo. An academic lawyer, Orlando entered Sicilian politics in the 1970s and swiftly became one of the most outspoken critics of the DC’s established leadership on the island. In 1985, he became mayor of Palermo for the first time, at the head of a conventional five-party alliance that included all the DC’s national allies. In 1987, he broke with the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and formed a new administration that included the Greens and representatives from the numerous civic renewal groups and antimafia initiatives that had sprung up in the city during the 1980s. In 1989, he added the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI) to his majority. This “Palermo spring” won Orlando national attention; his increasingly unambiguous accusations that leading DC politicians such as Giulio Andreotti were collaborating with the mafia made him notorious. Orlando became a hero for Italy’s liberal press, but some skeptics, notably the Sicilian writer Leonardo Sciascia, regarded him as an opportunist who was making his career as a “professional opponent of the mafia.”
   Orlando broke with the DC in 1990 and launched a new political party, La Rete, in October of that year. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in April 1992 with an enormous number of personal preference votes, and, in November 1993, won the mayoralty of Palermo for La Rete by a plebiscite-like 75 percent majority, but his party has failed to take root outside of Palermo. Orlando resigned from the mayorality in December 2000 to campaign for the regional elections, in which he was the center-left’s candidate for the regional presidency. The candidate of the Casa delle Liberta/House of Freedoms defeated him easily, however. Orlando was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in April 2006.
   See also Falcone, Giovanni; Sicily.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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