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De Gasperi, Alcide (1881–1954)

Subject History

Place Southern Europe » Italy

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


Prime Minister of Italy (1945–53). Born in Trentino, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, he received his higher education at the University of Vienna. In 1911 he was elected to the Austro-Hungarian parliament and was a member until the end of the First World War. When Trentino became part of Italy in 1919 De Gasperi was active in the Popular Party and was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1921. He denounced Fascism and was prepared to collaborate with the socialists to prevent its rise, but Pope Pius XI forbade such collaboration. When Mussolini banned all opposition in 1926 De Gasperi lost his seat and a year later was sentenced to four years in prison, of which he served 16 months. He was then employed by the Vatican library until Rome was liberated in 1944. De Gasperi helped to found the christian democratic party (DC) and was soon its undisputed leader. A devout Catholic, stern and aloof, he saw the need to co-operate with the PCI (Italian Communist Party) as communists had dominated the Resistance, but with the advent of the cold war , and under pressure from the US and the Vatican, he dismissed them from the government in 1947. In 1948 the DC won a majority of seats in parliament but De Gasperi continued his coalition government with parties of the centre. A centrist himself, he rejected Vatican pressure to make the DC into a Catholic party, though he relied ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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