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Enrico De Nicola
Official portrait, 1948
President of Italy
In office
1 January 1948 – 12 May 1948
Prime MinisterAlcide De Gasperi
Preceded byPosition established[a]
Succeeded byLuigi Einaudi
Provisional Head of State of Italy
In office
28 June 1946 – 1 January 1948
Prime MinisterAlcide De Gasperi
Preceded byAlcide De Gasperi
Succeeded byPosition abolished
President of the Constitutional Court
In office
23 January 1956 – 26 March 1957
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byGaetano Azzariti
President of the Senate of the Republic
In office
28 April 1951 – 24 June 1952
Preceded byIvanoe Bonomi
Succeeded byGiuseppe Paratore
President of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
26 June 1920 – 25 January 1924
Preceded byVittorio Emanuele Orlando
Succeeded byAlfredo Rocco
Personal details
Born(1877-11-09)9 November 1877
Naples, Campania, Kingdom of Italy
Died1 October 1959(1959-10-01) (aged 81)
Torre del Greco, Campania, Italy
Political partyItalian Liberal Party
Alma materUniversity of Naples Federico II

Enrico De Nicola, OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [enˈriːko de niˈkɔːla] ; 9 November 1877 – 1 October 1959)[1] was an Italian jurist, journalist, politician, and provisional head of state of republican Italy from 1946 to 1948. Afterwards, he became the first president of Italy on 1 January 1948.[2]


Enrico De Nicola was born in Naples and became famous as a penal lawyer. He studied law at the University of Naples, graduating in 1896.[3] As a Liberal he was elected a deputy for the first time in 1909 and, from 1913 to 1921, he filled minor governmental posts until the advent of fascism, when he retired from political life. He served as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Giolitti government (November 1913 — March 1914) and Under-Secretary of State for the Treasury in the Orlando cabinet (January–June 1919). On 26 June 1920, he was elected speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, holding office until January 1924. He was appointed senator by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1929, but he refused to take his seat and never took part in the workings of the Assembly.[4]

De Nicola signs the Italian Constitution on 27 December 1947

He returned to his law practice, only taking an interest in politics again after the fall of Italian Fascism. After Benito Mussolini's fall from power in 1943, king Victor Emmanuel tried to extricate the monarchy from its collaboration with the Fascist regime; De Nicola was perhaps the most influential mediator in the ensuing transition. The king's son Umberto acquired a new title of "Lieutenant-General of the Realm" and took over most of the functions of the sovereign. Victor Emanuel later abdicated; Umberto became king as Umberto II and a Constitutional Referendum was held, won by republicans. A new Constituent Assembly was elected, and prime minister Alcide de Gasperi became acting head of state for a few weeks when Umberto II was exiled and left Italy. The Constituent Assembly then elected De Nicola Provisional Head of State on 28 June 1946, with 80% of the votes, at the first round of voting. Giulio Andreotti later recalled that De Nicola — a man of great modesty — was not sure whether to accept the nomination and underwent frequent changes of mind in the face of repeated insistence by all the major political leaders. Andreotti recalled that the journalist Manlio Lupinacci then issued an appeal to De Nicola in the pages of Il Giornale d'Italia: "Your Excellency, please, decide to decide if you can accept to accept...."[5]

On 25 June 1947, De Nicola resigned from the post, citing health reasons, but the Constituent Assembly immediately re-elected him again the following day, having recognized in his act signs of nobility and humility. After the Italian Constitution took effect, he was formally named the "President of the Italian Republic" on 1 January 1948. He finally refused to be a candidate for the first constitutional election the following May, in which Luigi Einaudi was elected to the Quirinale, the formal seat of the Italian presidency.[6]

In 1948, De Nicola became a senator for life as a former Head of State,[citation needed] and later was elected President of the Senate, and of the Constitutional Court.[citation needed]

He died at Torre del Greco, in the province of Naples, on 1 October 1959.[7] He was unmarried and had no children.[citation needed]


Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity[citation needed]

Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (1956)[8]

Political titles

His other political titles included President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Temporary Chief of the Italian State and President of the Italian Senate.[9]


  1. ^ Lentz, Harris M., ed. (4 February 2014). Heads of States and Governments Since 1945. Routledge. p. 436. ISBN 9781134264902.
  2. ^ Favor, Lesli J. (2004). Italy: a primary source cultural guide. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 36. ISBN 0-8239-3839-5.
  3. ^ "Enrico De Nicola - Italian President". World Presidents Database.
  4. ^ Sergio, S. M. "Elogio dell'Avvocato" (in Italian). Pironti. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  5. ^ B. Vespa, Storia d'Italia da Mussolini a Berlusconi, p. 32 (in Italian)
  6. ^ Cristina Mascheroni, Enrico De Nicola, Infobergamo (2006) [1] (in Italian) Accessed 26 January 2012
  7. ^ Craveri, Piero (1990). "DE NICOLA, Enrico". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (in Italian). Vol. 38.
  8. ^ "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana".
  9. ^ "Biography of De Nicola, Enrico -".

Bibliography and notes

  1. ^ Title last held by Napoleon Bonaparte under the Italian Republic (Napoleonic).
Political offices Preceded byVittorio Emanuele Orlando President of the Chamber of Deputies 1920–1924 Succeeded byAlfredo Rocco Preceded byAlcide De Gasperi Provisional Head of State of ItalyActing 1946 Succeeded byHimselfas President of Italy Preceded byHimselfas Provisional Head of State of Italy President of Italy 1948 Succeeded byLuigi Einaudi Preceded byIvanoe Bonomi President of the Senate 1951–1952 Succeeded byGiuseppe Paratore Legal offices New office President of the Constitutional Court 1956–1957 Succeeded byGaetano Azzariti