Oscar Luigi Scalfaro

Senator for life
Oscar Luigi Scalfaro
9th President of Italy
In office
28 May 1992  15 May 1999
Prime Minister Giuliano Amato
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
Silvio Berlusconi
Lamberto Dini
Romano Prodi
Massimo D'Alema
Preceded by Francesco Cossiga
Succeeded by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
President of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
24 April 1992  25 May 1992
Preceded by Leonilde Iotti
Succeeded by Giorgio Napolitano
Minister of the Interior
In office
4 August 1983  28 July 1987
Prime Minister Bettino Craxi
Amintore Fanfani
Preceded by Virginio Rognoni
Succeeded by Amintore Fanfani
Minister of Education
In office
26 July 1972  7 July 1973
Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti
Preceded by Riccardo Misasi
Succeeded by Franco Maria Malfatti
Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation
In office
12 February 1972  26 July 1972
Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti
Preceded by Italo Viglianesi
Succeeded by Aldo Bozzi
In office
23 February 1966  12 December 1968
Prime Minister Aldo Moro
Giovanni Leone
Preceded by Angelo Raffaele Jervolino
Succeeded by Luigi Mariotti
Personal details
Born (1918-09-09)9 September 1918
Novara, Italy
Died 29 January 2012(2012-01-29) (aged 93)
Rome, Italy
Nationality Italian
Political party DC (1946–1994)
PPI (1994–2002)
The Daisy (2002–2007)
PD (2007–2012)
Spouse(s) Maria Inzitari
(1943–1944; her death)
Children Marianna Scalfaro
Religion Roman Catholicism

Oscar Luigi Scalfaro (Italian pronunciation: [ˈɔskar luˈiːdʒi ˈskalfaro]; 9 September 1918 – 29 January 2012) was an Italian politician and magistrate, the ninth President of the Italian Republic from 1992 to 1999, and subsequently a senator for life. Formerly a member of Christian Democracy, he belonged to the centre-left Democratic party.


Scalfaro was born in Novara, Province of Novara on 9 September 1918.[1] He was raised in a religious atmosphere.[2] He became a member of the association Azione Cattolica (Catholic Action) at the age of 12 and kept its badge on his lapel until his death.[2]

Scalfaro studied law at Milan's Università Cattolica and graduated on 30 July 1941. On 21 October 1942, he entered the magistrature. In 1945, after the end of World War II, he became a public prosecuting attorney, and to date he is the last Italian attorney to have obtained a death sentence: in July of that year, along with two others, he was public prosecutor in the trial against former Novara prefect Enrico Vezzalini and servicemen Arturo Missiato, Domenico Ricci, Salvatore Santoro, Giovanni Zeno and Raffaele Infante, accused of "collaborating with the German invaders". After a three-day-long debate, all six were condemned to death. The sentence was carried out on 23 September 1945.[3] Later on, he obtained one more death sentence, but the accused was pardoned before the execution could take place. In 1946 he was elected to the Constituent Assembly and later in 1948 he became a deputy representing the district of Turin. He was re-elected ten times in a row until 1992. Within the Democrazia Cristiana party he was associated with its right wing.

On 25 May 1992, he was elected as President of the Italian Republic,[4] after a two-week stalemate of unsuccessful attempts to reach agreement. The killing of anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone prompted his election. His mandate ended in May 1999, and he automatically became a lifetime member of the Senate.

On April 7, 1994, Scalfaro co-officiated at the Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah at the Sala Nervi in Vatican City, along with Pope John Paul II, and Chief Rabbi of Rome Elio Toaff.

In recent times, Scalfaro was the chairman of the committee that advocated the abrogation, in the referendum of June 25 and 26, 2006, of the constitutional reform that had been passed in parliament the previous year by the former center-right majority. Along with all the center-left (and a few center-right personalities, too), Scalfaro considered it to be dangerous for national unity and for other reasons. The opponents of the reform won a landslide victory in the referendum.

Scalfaro was the oldest surviving former Italian president and the second oldest member of the Senate, after Rita Levi-Montalcini. He consequently took the temporary presidency of the newly elected assembly which followed the 2006 general election, as Levi Montalcini refused the role because of her age. This made him one of the three politicians in Italian history to have presided over the three highest-ranked offices in the Italian Republic: President of the Republic, President of the Senate, and President of the Chamber of Deputies; the others are Sandro Pertini and Enrico De Nicola.

A staunch Catholic, and in the past a rather conservative and anti-communist politician, Scalfaro nevertheless distrusted many members of the DC who changed support to Forza Italia, and was consistently on bad terms with Silvio Berlusconi. He openly supported the center-left coalition, which included Democratic Party of the Left, which won the 1996 and 2006 elections. Despite his age, he also actively campaigned, for the "No" side, in the June 2006 referendum on a constitutional reform. This reform had been proposed by Berlusconi's House of Freedom coalition during its control of the government.

Scalfaro in 2009.

During the Second World War, in 1944, Scalfaro lost his 20-year-old wife Maria Inzitari, by whom he had a daughter, Marianna. He never married again.

After the 2008 parliamentary election, he was again asked to preside as pro tempore Speaker of the Senate after Rita Levi-Montalcini again refused the post, but this time he also declined to serve.

Honours and awards

As President of the Italian Republic, Scalfaro was Head of several Italian Orders from 28 May 1992 to 15 May 1999: the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, the Military Order of Italy, the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity, the Order of Merit for Labour and the Order of Vittorio Veneto. Personally, he was awarded the Gold Medal of Merit for School, Culture and Art on 31 July 1973.[5]

He also received several foreign honours:


  1. Page at Senate website (Italian).
  2. 1 2 Sassoon, Donald (29 January 2012). "Oscar Luigi Scalfaro obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  3. "Scalfaro e la figlia del fascista fucilato "Lo interrogai. Era colpevole? Non so"". Corriere. 14 October 2006. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  4. Povoledo, Elisabetta (30 January 2012). "OBITUARY; Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 93; Led Italy at Turbulent Time". The New York Times. p. 21.
  5. "Dettaglio decorato" (in Italian). Presidency of the Italian Republic. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  6. Prime Minister of Malta Website, Honorary Appointments to the National Order of Merit
  7. Slovak republic website, State honours : 1st Class received in 1997 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  8. Lithuanian Presidency, Lithuanian Orders searching form
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Political offices
Preceded by
Riccardo Misasi
Italian Minister of Public Instruction
Succeeded by
Franco Maria Malfatti
Preceded by
Virginio Rognoni
Italian Minister of the Interior
Succeeded by
Amintore Fanfani
Preceded by
Leonilde Iotti
President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies
Succeeded by
Giorgio Napolitano
Preceded by
Francesco Cossiga
President of the Italian Republic
Succeeded by
Carlo Azeglio Ciampi
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