Romano Prodi

Romano Prodi
52nd Prime Minister of Italy
In office
17 May 2006  8 May 2008
President Giorgio Napolitano
Deputy Massimo D'Alema
Francesco Rutelli
Preceded by Silvio Berlusconi
Succeeded by Silvio Berlusconi
In office
17 May 1996  21 October 1998
President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro
Deputy Walter Veltroni
Preceded by Lamberto Dini
Succeeded by Massimo D'Alema
President of the European Commission
In office
16 September 1999  30 October 2004
Preceded by Manuel Marín
Succeeded by José Manuel Barroso
Minister of Justice
In office
17 January 2008  6 February 2008
Government Prodi II
Preceded by Clemente Mastella
Succeeded by Luigi Scotti
President of the Democratic Party
In office
14 October 2007  16 April 2008
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Rosy Bindi
President of the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction
In office
20 May 1993  27 July 1994
Preceded by Franco Nobili
Succeeded by Michele Tedeschi
In office
3 November 1982  29 October 1989
Preceded by Pietro Sette
Succeeded by Franco Nobili
Minister of Industry, Commerce and Manufacturing
In office
25 November 1978  20 March 1979
Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti
Preceded by Carlo Donat-Cattin
Succeeded by Franco Nicolazzi
Personal details
Born (1939-08-09) 9 August 1939
Scandiano, Italy
Political party Christian Democracy
Italian People's Party
(1996–1999; 2002–2007; 2013– )
The Democrats
Democratic Party
Other political
The Olive Tree
The Union
Spouse(s) Flavia Franzoni (m. 1969)
Children Giorgio
Alma mater Università Cattolica, Milan
London School of Economics
Profession Economist, professor
Religion Roman Catholic
Nickname(s) Il Professore
This article is part of a series about
Romano Prodi
  • Political offices

President of the European Commission
Prime Minister of Italy
(1996–1998; 2006–2008)

  • Elections

  • Governments

Romano Prodi, OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [roˈmaːno ˈprɔːdi]; born 9 August 1939) is an Italian former politician and economist. He twice served as the Prime Minister of Italy, from 17 May 1996 to 21 October 1998 and from 17 May 2006 to 8 May 2008. He was also the tenth President of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004. He is nicknamed Il Professore (The Professor) due to his occupation as professor of Economics at the University of Bologna.[1]

A former professor of economics and international advisor to Goldman Sachs, Prodi ran in 1996 as lead candidate of The Olive Tree coalition, winning the general election and serving as Prime Minister of Italy until 1998. Following the victory of his coalition The Union over the House of Freedoms led by Silvio Berlusconi in the April 2006 Italian elections, Prodi took power again. On 24 January 2008, he lost a vote of confidence in the Senate house, and consequently tendered his resignation as Prime Minister to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, but continued in office for almost four months for routine business, until early elections were held and a new government was formed.

Up to this time, he has been the only one lead candidate of Italian Centre-left who won elections and managed to form a government without the need of opponents' parliamentary support.

On 14 October 2007, Prodi became the first President of the Democratic Party upon foundation of the party.

On 12 September 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon selected Prodi as president of the African Union-UN peacekeeping panel.[2] He is currently serving as the UN Special Envoy for the Sahel.

Personal life

Prodi was born in Scandiano, in the province of Reggio Emilia (Emilia-Romagna). He is the eighth of nine children of Mario Prodi, an engineer originally from a peasant family, and Enrica, a primary school teacher. He has two sisters and six brothers, five of them being like him university professors (one of whom, Vittorio Prodi, is also a Member of the European Parliament; see also Giorgio Prodi, an oncologist and biosemiotician).

Prodi married Flavia Franzoni in 1969. He was married by Camillo Ruini, now a well-known cardinal.[3][4] They have two sons, Giorgio and Antonio. He and his family still live in Bologna.

Academic career

After completing his secondary education at the Liceo Ludovico Ariosto in Reggio Emilia, Prodi graduated in law at Milan's Università Cattolica in 1961 with a thesis on the role of Protectionism in the development of Italian industry. He then carried out postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics.[5]

In 1963, he became a teaching assistant for Beniamino Andreatta in the Department of Economics and the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Bologna, subsequently serving as associate professor (1966) and finally (1971–1999) as Professor of Industrial Organisation and Industrial Policy. Prodi has also been a visiting professor at Harvard University and a researcher at the Stanford Research Institute. His research covers mainly competition regulations and the development of small and medium businesses. He is also interested in relations between states and markets, and the dynamics of the different capitalistic models.

Prodi has received almost 20 honorary degrees from institutions in Italy, and from the rest of Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa.[6]

Business interests

In 1982–1989 Prodi was President of the influential state-owned industrial holding company Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI). After leaving his position, Prodi ran the Bologna based consulting company Analisi e Studi Economici, which he jointly owned along with his wife.[7] Between 1990 and 1993 the company earned £1.4 million, most of which was paid by the investment bank Goldman Sachs.[7] In 1993-1994 Prodi was again President of the IRI, where he oversaw extensive privatization of public assets. For his activities in this period Prodi would later twice come under investigation – firstly for an alleged conflict of interest in relation to contracts awarded to his own economic research company in relation to the Italdel-Siemens merger, and secondly concerning the sale of the loss-making state-owned food conglomerate SME to the multinational Unilever, for which he had previously been a paid consultant.[7] Prodi's former employer Goldman Sachs was involved in both of the deals.[7] In February 2007 the Italian Treasury Police raided the Milan office of Goldman Sachs, where they removed a file called "MTononi/memo-Prodi02.doc".[7] They also obtained a letter to Siemens from the Frankfurt office of Goldman Sachs regarding the Italdel deal, which revealed that Prodi was made the Senior Advisor of Goldman Sachs International in Italy in March 1990.[7] In November 1996, after Prodi had been elected Prime Minister, Rome prosecutor Guiseppa Geremia concluded that there was enough evidence to press charges against Prodi for conflict of interest in the Unilever deal. The case was however shut down within weeks by superiors, while Geremia was "exiled to Sardinia".[7]

Political career

Early political career

Prodi's political career began as a left-of-centre reformist Christian Democrat and a disciple of Beniamino Andreatta, another economist turned politician. During the mid-1970s he was appointed Minister of Industry. During Giulio Andreotti's government in 1978, he served as a Technical Minister; through the 1980s and early 1990s he continuously served various government committees.

On 2 April 1978, Prodi and other teachers at the University of Bologna passed on a tip-off that revealed the whereabouts of the safe house where the kidnapped Aldo Moro, the former Prime Minister, was being held captive by the Red Brigades. Prodi claimed he had been given this tip-off by the founders of the Christian Democracy party, contacted from beyond the grave via a séance and a Ouija board. Whilst during this supposed séance Prodi thought the word Gradoli referred to a town on the outskirts of Rome, it probably referred to the Roman address of a Red Brigades safe house, located at no. 96, Via Gradoli. Later, other Italian members of the European Commission claimed Prodi had invented this story to conceal the real source of the tip-off, which they believed to have originated somewhere among the far-left Italian political groups.[8]

This issue came back again in 2005, when Prodi was accused of being "a KGB man" by Mario Scaramella.[9] The same accusation was raised in the 1990s by the Mitrokhin Commission.

The Olive Tree and first cabinet

In 1995, Prodi was one of the founders of the centre-left coalition The Olive Tree, and as its main leader he defeated the Silvio Berlusconi-led centre-right Pole of Freedoms coalition in the 1996 Italian general election. This led to Prodi's nomination as President of the Council of Ministers, as the position of Prime Minister is usually called in Italy.

Prodi's programme consisted in continuing the past governments' work of restoration of the country's economic health, in order to pursue the then seemingly unreachable goal of leading the country within the strict European Monetary System parameters and make the country join the Euro currency. He succeeded in this in little more than six months. His government fell in 1998 when the Communist Refoundation Party withdrew its support. This led to the formation of a new government led by Massimo D'Alema as Prime Minister. There are those who claim that D'Alema deliberately engineered the collapse of the Prodi government to become Prime Minister himself.[10] As the result of a vote of no confidence in Prodi's government, D'Alema's nomination was passed by a single vote. This was the first occasion in the history of the Italian republic on which a vote of no confidence had ever been called; the Republic's many previous governments had been brought down by a majority "no" vote on some crucially important piece of legislation (such as the budget).

President of the European Commission

Main article: Prodi Commission
Romano Prodi (right) with Göran Persson and George W. Bush at Gunnebo Slott near Gothenburg, Sweden, 14 June 2001.

In September 1999 Prodi, a strong supporter of European Integration, became President of the European Commission, thanks to the support of both the conservative European People's Party and social-democratic Party of European Socialists in the European Parliament. It was during Prodi's presidency, in 2002, that eleven EU member states left their national currencies and adopted the euro as their single currency. This commission (the 10th) saw in increase in power and influence following Amsterdam Treaty. Some in the media described President Prodi as being the first "Prime Minister of the European Union".[11][12] and in 2004, still during Prodi's presidency, the EU was enlarged to admit several more member nations, most formerly part of the Soviet bloc. As well as the enlargement and Amsterdam Treaty, the Prodi Commission also saw the signing and enforcement of the Treaty of Nice as well as the conclusion and signing of the European Constitution: in which he introduced the "Convention method" of negotiation. Prodi's mandate expired on 18 November 2004, whereupon he returned to domestic politics.

Return to Italian politics and second government

Shortly before the end of his term as President of the European Commission, Prodi returned to national Italian politics at the helm of the enlarged centre-left coalition, The Union.

Having no party of his own, in order to officially state his candidacy for the 2006 general election, Prodi came up with the idea of an apposite primary election, the first of such kind to be ever introduced in Europe and seen by its creator (Prodi himself) as a democratic move to bring the public and its opinion closer to the Italian politics, held on 16 October 2005, which he won with over 70% of votes. Over four million people for the occasion went to cast a vote in the primary election. He thus led his coalition to the electoral campaign preceding the election, eventually won by a very narrow margin of 25,000 votes, and a final majority of two seats in the Senate, on 10 April. Prodi's appointment was somewhat delayed, as the outgoing President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, ended his mandate in May, not having enough time for the usual procedure (consultations made by the President, appointment of a Prime Minister, motion of confidence and oath of office). After the acrimonious election of Giorgio Napolitano to replace Ciampi, Prodi could proceed with his transition to government. On 16 May he was invited by Napolitano to form a government. The following day, 17 May 2006, Prodi and his second cabinet were sworn into office.

Romano Prodi (second from the right) at the Helligendamm G8 Summit, 6–8 June 2007.

Prodi's new cabinet drew in politicians from across his centre-left winning coalition, in addition to Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, an unelected former official of the European Central Bank with no partisan membership. Romano Prodi obtained the support for his cabinet on 19 May at the Senate and on 23 May at the Chamber of Deputies. Also on 18 May, Prodi laid out some sense of his new foreign policy when he pledged to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq and called the Iraq war a "grave mistake that has not solved but increased the problem of security".[13]

The coalition led by Romano Prodi, thanks to the electoral law which gave the winner a sixty-seat majority, can count on a good majority in the Chamber of Deputies but only on a very narrow majority in the Senate. The composition of the coalition was heterogeneous, combining parties of communist ideology, the Party of Italian Communists and Communist Refoundation Party, within the same government as parties of Catholic inspiration, Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy and UDEUR Populars. The latter was led by Clemente Mastella, former chairman of Christian Democracy. Therefore, according to critics, it was difficult to have a single policy in different key areas, such as economics and foreign politics (for instance, Italian military presence in Afghanistan). In his earlier months as PM, Prodi had a key role in the creation of a multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Prodi's government faced a crisis over policies in early 2007, after just nine months of government. Three ministers in Prodi's Cabinet boycotted a vote in January to continue funding for Italian troop deployments in Afghanistan. Lawmakers approved the expansion of the US military base Caserma Ederle at the end of January, but the victory was so narrow that Deputy Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli criticised members of the coalition who had not supported the government. At around the same time, Justice Minister Clemente Mastella, of the coalition member UDEUR Populars, said he would rather see the government fall than support its unwed couples legislation.[14]

Tens of thousands of people marched in Vicenza against the expansion of Caserma Ederle, which saw the participation of some leading far-left members of the government.[15] Harsh debates followed in the Italian Senate on 20 February 2007. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Massimo D'Alema declared during an official visit in Ibiza, Spain that, without a majority on foreign policy affairs, the government would resign. The following day, D'Alema gave a speech at the Senate representing the government, clarifying his foreign policy and asking the Senate to vote for or against it. In spite of the fear of many senators that Prodi's defeat would return Silvio Berlusconi to power, the Senate did not approve a motion backing Prodi's government foreign policy, two votes shy of the required majority of 160.[16]

Map of international trips made by Romano Prodi as Prime Minister of Italy and President of the European Commission.

After a Government meeting on 21 February, Romano Prodi tendered his resignation to the President Giorgio Napolitano, who cut short an official visit to Bologna in order to receive the Prime Minister. Prodi's spokesman indicated that he would only agree to form a new Government "if, and only if, he is guaranteed the full support of all the parties in the majority from now on."[17] On 22 February, centre-left coalition party leaders backed a non-negotiable list of twelve political conditions given by Prodi as conditions of his remaining in office. President Napolitano held talks with political leaders on 23 February to decide whether to confirm Prodi's Government, ask Prodi to form a new government or call fresh elections.[18]

Following these talks, on 24 February, President Napolitano asked Prodi to remain in office but to submit to a vote of confidence in both houses.[18][19] "I will seek a vote of confidence as soon as possible, with renewed impetus and a united and determined coalition," Prodi said after meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano.[20] On 28 February, the Senate voted to grant confidence to Prodi's Government. Though facing strong opposition from the centre-right coalition, the vote resulted in a 162–157 victory. Prodi then faced a vote of confidence in the lower house on 2 March, which he won as expected with a large majority of 342–198.[21]

On 14 October 2007, Prodi oversaw the merger of two main parties of the Italian centre-left, Democrats of the Left and Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy, creating the Democratic Party. Prodi himself led the merger of the two parties, which had been planned over a twelve-year period, and became the first President of the party. He announced his resignation from that post on 16 April 2008, two days after the Democratic Party's defeat in the general election.

2008 crisis and resignation

In early January 2008, Justice Minister and UDEUR's leader Clemente Mastella resigned after his wife Sandra Lonardo was put under house arrest for corruption charges. He initially announced external support for the government, only to withdraw it a few days later citing lack of solidarity from the majority parties, and declaring his party would vote against the government bills since then. With three Senators, UDEUR was instrumental to ensure a narrow centre-left majority in the Italian Senate.[22] On 17 January 2008, Prodi became the Minister of Justice ad interim.

This caused Prodi to ask for a confidence vote in both Chambers: he won a clear majority in the Chamber of Deputies on 23 January,[23] but was defeated 156 to 161 (with 1 abstention)[24] in the Senate the next day. He therefore tendered his resignation as Prime Minister to President Giorgio Napolitano, who accepted it and appointed the President of the Senate, Franco Marini, with the task of evaulating possibilities for forming interim government to implement electoral reforms prior to holding elections. Marini, after consultation with all major political forces, acknowledged the impossibility of doing so on 5 February, forcing Napolitano to announce the end of the legislature.[25] Prodi said that he would not seek to lead a new government.[26] In the election that followed in April 2008, Berlusconi's centre-right The People of Freedom and allies defeated the Democratic Party.

2013 presidential candidate

Romano Prodi in 2014

Prodi was drafted by PD parliamentarians to be President of Italy during the 2013 presidential election after PD-PdL compromise candidate Franco Marini failed to receive sufficient votes on the first ballot. During the first three rounds of voting few people cast ballots for Prodi (14 on the first ballot, 13 on the second, and 22 on the third). On 16 April 2013, just a few day prior to the fourth ballot, Prodi gave a lectio magistralis at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum entitled “I grandi cambiamenti della politica e dell’economia mondiale: c’è un posto per l’Europa?” ("The Great Changes in Politics and the World Economy: Is there Room for Europe?). Prodi was sponsored by the Angelicum and the Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi[27] on behalf of the Political Science program "Scienze Politiche e del Buon Governo."[28] A few days later, on April 19, starting on the fourth ballot Prodi was looked at seriously as a possible candidate. However, Prodi announced he was pulling out of the race for president after more than 100 center-left electors didn't vote for him: he received only 395 (of 504 votes needed to be elected.) After this vote Pierlugi Bersani, leader of center-left PD party announced his resignation.

After politics

Romano Prodi in Bologna, 2016.

On 19 March 2008, during the political campaign for the snap general election, Romano Prodi stated "I called it a day with Italian politics and maybe with politics in general."[29]

On 12 September 2008, Prodi was named by the UN as head of a joint AU-UN panel aimed at enhancing peacekeeping operations in Africa.[30]

On 6 February 2009, he was appointed Professor-at-Large at the Watson Institute for International Studies of Brown University.[31] Since 2010 Romano Prodi is the chair for Sino-European dialogue at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS – Shanghai&Beijing), China's leading business school.

On 9 October 2012, Romano Prodi was appointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Special Envoy for the Sahel.[32]

Prodi is also a member of the Club de Madrid, an international organization of former democratic statesmen, which works to strengthen democratic governance and leadership.[33] He is a former member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[34]

Honours and awards

Academic awards

See also


  1. Quegli incarichi mai arrivati a Prodi. Il premier e il distacco dal Professore
  2. "Former Italian PM to head African Union-UN peacekeeping panel". Romano Prodi website. 12 September 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  3. "Profile: Romano Prodi". BBC. 10 May 1999. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
  4. Fisher, Ian (12 April 2006). "A tenuous time for Mr. Serenity". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
  5. Biography of Romano Prodi (in Italian)
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose (19 June 2007). "Italians claim country run by Goldman Sachs". London: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  8. Willan, Philip (3 August 1999). "Seance points to problem for Prodi". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
  9. "'Multiple attempts' on Litvinenko". BBC. London. 22 January 2007. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008.
  10. "Così io e D'Alema facemmo cadere Prodi". May 2001.
  11. Prodi to Have Wide, New Powers as Head of the European Commission 16 April 1999
  12. Commentary: Romano Prodi: Europe's First Prime Minister? (int'l edition) 1999
  13. Sturcke, James (18 May 2006). "Prodi condemns Iraq war as 'grave mistake'". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
  14. "Rift threatens Italian coalition". BBC News. 2 February 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
  15. "Italians march in US base protest". BBC News. 17 February 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
  16. "Italian PM Prodi resigns after foreign policy defeat". CBC News. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2007.
  17. "Italian PM hands in resignation". BBC News. 21 February 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  18. 1 2 "Italian coalition 'to back Prodi". BBC News. 23 February 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  19. "Italian PM asked to resume duties". BBC News. 24 February 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  20. Italy's Leader Asks Premier to Stay on. Associated Press, 25 February 2007.
  21. "Italy's ruling coalition weakened". BBC News. 17 January 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  22. "Embattled Italy PM backed by MPs". BBC News. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  23. (Italian) Crisi di governo: il Senato sfiducia Prodi - Wikinotizie. Retrieved on 2013-08-24.
  24. "DOMANI LO SCIOGLIMENTO DELLE CAMERE" (in Italian). Ansa. 5 February 2008. Archived from the original on 4 February 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2008.
  25. Andrew Davis and Steve Scherer, "Prodi Government Near Collapse After Key Ally Defects (Update2)",, 22 January 2008.
  26. it:Università degli Studi "Guglielmo Marconi" Accessed 17, 2013
  27. Accessed 17 April
  28. ANSA. "Prodi, lascio la politica ma il mondo è pieno di occasioni". Archived from the original on 30 March 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2008.
  29. Thomson Reuters Foundation | News, Information and Connections for Action. Retrieved on 2013-08-24.
  30. "Former Italian Prime Minister Appointed Professor-at-Large". Brown University. 6 February 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
  31. Secretary-General Appoints Romano Prodi of Italy as Special Envoy for Sahel. Retrieved on 2013-08-24.
  32. "Prodi, Romano". Club de Madrid. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  33. "Former Steering Committee Members". Bilderberg Group. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  34. Received a copy of the key of the city of Tirana Archived 11 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Romano Prodi.
Political offices
Preceded by
Carlo Donat-Cattin
Minister of Industry, Commerce and Craftsmanship
Succeeded by
Franco Nicolazzi
Preceded by
Lamberto Dini
Prime Minister of Italy
Succeeded by
Massimo D'Alema
Preceded by
Manuel Marín
President of the European Commission
Succeeded by
José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by
Silvio Berlusconi
Prime Minister of Italy
Succeeded by
Silvio Berlusconi
Party political offices
New political party Leader of the Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Rosy Bindi
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