Veltroni, Walter

(1955– )
   While still in a Roman secondary school, Veltroni joined the Federazione Giovanile Comunista Italiana/Italian Communist Youth Federation (FGCI) and was soon elected secretary of his cell. In 1975, he was elected provincial secretary and a member of the national executive of the FGCI. The next year (he was just 21), he was elected to the city council of Romeand within another year was put in charge of propaganda for the Roman federation of the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI). By 1980, he was second in charge of propaganda and relations with the press of the national party. Veltroni was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1987 and was reelected in 1992 and in 1996 as a member of the Partito Democratico della Sinistra/Democratic Party of the Left (PDS). He served as deputy prime minister and as minister for culture in the government of Romano Prodi (1996–1998). In the latter capacity, he is largely credited with overseeing—even with monthly personal visits—the final stages of restoration of the Borghese Art Museum, a 17th-century villa that has been the property of the Italian state since 1902. It includes paintings by Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael as well as sculptures by Antonio Canova and Bernini. The villa’s reopening to the public in summer 1997 was regarded as a turning point in Italy’s notoriously neglectful approach to its cultural heritage. Veltroni became mayor of Rome in 2002. He is associated with the idea of transforming the Olive Tree Coalition/Ulivo into a single “Democratic Party” on the U.S. model. Veltroni, in fact, is a student of the Democratic Party and has written several books and essays on the Kennedy family. Should the Democratic Party idea take off, Veltroni would be a serious candidate for its leadership.
   See also Democratici di Sinistra (DS).

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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