Segni, Antonio

(1891–1972)
   Sardinian born, Segni studied law at Sassari University. He then was appointed to the law faculty at the University of Perugia, where he taught until 1925. While a student he had organized a section of Azione Cattolica Italiana/Catholic Action (ACI), the first in Sassari. Amember of the National Council of the Partito Popolare Italiano/Italian People’s Party (PPI), he was its candidate in the elections of 1924. With the advent of Fascism, he withdrew from political life altogether.
   Segni’s academic career next took him to Cagliari, then to Pavia, then back to Sassari, where he became rector of its university between 1946 and 1951, when he accepted a teaching assignment in Rome. He had resumed political life in 1942 by collaborating in the founding of the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy Party (DC), being made its head for Sardinia. He was chosen as a deputy to the Constituent Assembly, then to the first Parliament and to all subsequent Parliaments.
   In the second government of Ivanoe Bonomi (January–June 1945), Segni was made deputy minister for agriculture and forests, a post he retained in the subsequent governments of Ferruccio Parri and Alcide De Gasperi. In July 1946, he became minister of that department, a post he retained until 1951. For the next three years, he was minister of education. In 1955, he was invited to form a government, which lasted until 1957. After an interval of serving under Amintore Fanfani (1958–1959), he was once again asked to form a government in 1959, in which he was also minister of interior. This government was succeeded by that of Fernando Tambroni (April–July 1960). In the subsequent government, Segni was foreign minister, until he was elected president of the Republic in May 1962. He resigned for reasons of health 30 months later, becoming automatically a life senator. His resignation ended a stormy presidency. The opening to the left, for which he had no sympathy whatsoever, had induced the Partito Socialista Italiano/Italian Socialist Party (PSI) to break with the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI). The price exacted included reforms such as the nationalization of the electricity industry. Meanwhile widespread and successful industrial action had added to labor costs, thus fueling inflation. Worried about the trend of events, Segni conferred with military leaders and with the president of the Senate, who was known to favor an emergency government to put a stop to socialist-inspired reforms. Subsequent parliamentary and journalistic investigation alleged that a coup d’etat had been a real possibility. Segni was ultimately exonerated, but the episode left a sour taste for Italian democrats. Soon after this crisis Segni was struck with partial paralysis and resigned from the presidency.
   See also Solo Plan.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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