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Francesco Saverio Nitti
Francesco Saverio Nitti 1920.png
Nitti in 1920
Prime Minister of Italy
In office
23 June 1919 – 15 June 1920
MonarchVictor Emmanuel III
Preceded byVittorio Emanuele Orlando
Succeeded byGiovanni Giolitti
Personal details
Born(1868-07-19)July 19, 1868
Melfi, Kingdom of Italy
DiedFebruary 20, 1953(1953-02-20) (aged 84)
Rome, Italy
Political partyHistorical Far Left
Radical Party
Liberal Democratic Party

Francesco Saverio Vincenzo de Paolo[citation needed] Nitti (19 July 1868 – 20 February 1953) was an Italian economist and political figure. A Radical, he served as Prime Minister of Italy between 1919 and 1920.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia ("Theories of Overpopulation"), Nitti (Population and the Social System, 1894) was a staunch critic of English economist Thomas Robert Malthus and his Principle of Population. He was an important meridionalist and studied the origins of Southern Italian problems that arose after Italian unification.[1][2][3]


Born at Melfi, Basilicata, Nitti studied law in Naples and was subsequently active as journalist. He was correspondent for the Gazzetta piemontese ("Piedmontese Gazette") and was one of the editors of the Corriere di Napoli ("Courier of Naples"). In 1891, he wrote the work Il socialismo cattolico ("Catholic Socialism"). In 1898, when he was only 30 years old, he became professor of finance at the University of Naples.

Nitti was chosen in 1904 for the Radical Party to serve in the Italian Parliament. From 1911 to 1914 he was minister of agriculture, industry and trade under Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti. In 1917, he became minister of finance under Orlando and held it till 1919.

On 23 June 1919, Nitti became prime minister and interior minister. A year later, he was also minister of the colonies. His cabinet had to deal with great social unrest and dissatisfaction over Treaty of Versailles. Particularly troublesome was the agitation over Fiume led by Gabriele D'Annunzio. Nitti had great difficulty keeping the administration functioning at all, thanks to the enmity between the extremely divergent political factions of communists, anarchists and fascists. After less than a year as head of government, he resigned and was succeeded by the veteran Giolitti on 16 June 1920.

In social policy, Nitti’s government passed a law setting up compulsory insurance for unemployment, invalidity and old age.[4]

Still a member of the Italian Parliament, Nitti offered resistance to the nascent power of fascism and openly despised Benito Mussolini. In his 1927 book, Bolshevism, Fascism and Democracy, he correlated Italian fascism with communism: "There is little difference between the two, and in certain respects, Fascism and Bolshevism are the same".[5]

In 1924, Nitti decided to emigrate, but after the Second World War, he returned to Italy. He was elected to the Senate, first for the Italian Liberal Party in National Bloc and then for the Independent Left. As a secularist and anticlerical, he opposed Christian Democracy and staunchly opposed NATO membership.

He died on Rome on 20 February 1953. Throughout his career he opposed any kind of dictatorship, whether it was communist or fascist.

Notable works


  1. ^ Francesco Saverio Nitti, L'Italia all'alba del secolo XX, Casa Editrice Nazionale Roux e Viarengo, Torino-Roma, 1901
  2. ^ Francesco Saverio Nitti, Domenico De Masi, Napoli e la questione meridionale, Guida, Napoli, 2004
  3. ^ La scienza della finanza 1903-1936
  4. ^ Democracy and Social Policy by Yusuf Bangura
  5. ^ Francesco Saverio Nitti (1927), Bolshevism, Fascism and Democracy, New York: NY: Macmillan Co., p. 130
Political offices Preceded byVittorio Emanuele Orlando Prime Minister of Italy 1919–1920 Succeeded byGiovanni Giolitti Italian Minister of the Interior 1919–1920