Antonio Segni

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Antonio Segni
Antonio Segni Official.jpg
4th President of Italy
In office
11 May 1962 – 6 December 1964
Prime MinisterAmintore Fanfani
Giovanni Leone
Aldo Moro
Preceded byGiovanni Gronchi
Succeeded byGiuseppe Saragat
Prime Minister of Italy
In office
15 February 1959 – 25 March 1960
PresidentGiovanni Gronchi
Preceded byAmintore Fanfani
Succeeded byFernando Tambroni
In office
6 July 1955 – 19 May 1957
PresidentGiovanni Gronchi
DeputyGiuseppe Saragat
Preceded byMario Scelba
Succeeded byAdone Zoli
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
In office
1 July 1958 – 15 February 1959
Prime MinisterAmintore Fanfani
Preceded byGiuseppe Pella
Succeeded byAttilio Piccioni
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
25 March 1960 – 7 May 1962
Prime MinisterFernando Tambroni
Amintore Fanfani
Preceded byGiuseppe Pella
Succeeded byAmintore Fanfani
Minister of the Interior
In office
15 February 1959 – 25 March 1960
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byFernando Tambroni
Succeeded byGiuseppe Spataro
Minister of Defence
In office
1 July 1958 – 15 February 1959
Prime MinisterAmintore Fanfani
Preceded byPaolo Emilio Taviani
Succeeded byGiulio Andreotti
Minister of Education
In office
17 August 1953 – 18 January 1954
Prime MinisterGiuseppe Pella
Preceded byGiovanni Bettiol
Succeeded byEgidio Tosato
In office
26 July 1951 – 16 July 1953
Prime MinisterAlcide De Gasperi
Preceded byGuido Gonella
Succeeded byGiovanni Bettiol
Minister of Agriculture
In office
13 July 1946 – 26 July 1951
Prime MinisterAlcide De Gasperi
Preceded byFausto Gullo
Succeeded byAmintore Fanfani
Personal details
Born(1891-02-02)2 February 1891
Sassari, Sardinia, Kingdom of Italy
Died1 December 1972(1972-12-01) (aged 81)
Rome, Latium, Italy
Political partyChristian Democracy
Laura Carta Camprino (m. 1921–1972)
; his death

Antonio Segni (Italian pronunciation: [anˈtɔːnjo ˈseɲɲi]; 2 February 1891 – 1 December 1972)[1] was an Italian politician who was the 34th Prime Minister of Italy (1955–1957, 1959–1960), and the fourth President of Italy from 1962 to 1964. Adhering to the centrist Christian Democratic party (Italian: Democrazia Cristiana – DC), he was the first Sardinian ever to become Prime Minister of Italy.


The son of a Sardinian landowning family, born in Sassari, Sardinia, he studied to become a lawyer with a degree in agricultural and commercial law. Segni joined the Italian People's Party (Italian: Partito Popolare Italiano) – the predecessor of the Christian Democratic Party – in 1919. In 1924 he was a member of the party’s national council, until all political organizations were dissolved by Benito Mussolini two years later in 1926. For the next 17 years Segni taught Agrarian Law at the Universities of Pavia, Perugia, and Cagliari; he was also rector of Sassari University.

In 1943 Segni was one of the organizers of the new Christian Democratic Party in Sardinia, he held ministerial positions in many Christian Democrat governments from 1944 onward, despite his frail physique. Time Magazine once quoted a friend: "He is like the Colosseum; he looks like a ruin but he'll be around for a long time."[2] In 1946, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly after World War II and then to parliament in 1948.

In Government[edit]

Segni and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in August 1959

Segni made his reputation as Minister of Agriculture (1946–1951) under Alcide de Gasperi, he favoured land reform legislation and ordered the expropriation of most of his own estate in Sardinia.[3] He became known as a "white Bolshevik" for his agrarian reforms.[citation needed] Modern historians assert that landowners were favored by Segni, however, and his decrees allowed them to reclaim land which had been granted to the peasantry by the preceding administration.[4]

He became Prime Minister in 1955, succeeding Mario Scelba. During Segni’s government the treaties instituting the European Economic Community (EEC) were signed on 25 March 1957, and Italy co-founded the community.

In March 1959, he became Prime Minister again, succeeding Amintore Fanfani, in whose government he had been Minister of Defense.[5] In social policy, various reforms in social welfare were carried out. A law of 21 March 1959 extended insurance against occupational diseases to agricultural workers (for 7 diseases). A law of 17 May 1959 introduced a special additional indemnity for retired civil servants; a monthly supplement, indexed to the cost of living. A law of 4 July 1959 extended pension insurance to artisans.[6]


Segni was elected President of the Italian Republic on 6 May 1962 (854 to 443 votes),[2] he suffered a serious cerebral hemorrhage while working at the presidential palace on 7 August 1964. At the time he was 73 years old and the first prognosis was not positive, he only partially recovered, and he retired from office on 6 December 1964. In the interim, the President of the Senate Cesare Merzagora served as acting president.

Politically, Segni was a moderate conservative opposed to "opening to the centre-left" enabling coalition governments between the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and the Christian Democrats. Segni was later accused of having tried to instigate a coup d'état (known as Piano Solo) along with General Giovanni De Lorenzo during his presidency to frustrate the opening to the left.[7]

Segni was also a professor of law at University of Sassari. Straightforward, witty and courteous, Segni was more at ease in the classroom or the law court than in the back rooms of Italian politics,[3] he died on 1 December 1972 in Rome, at the age of 81. The frail, often ailing Segni, was affectionately called malato di ferro—"the invalid with the iron constitution".[8]

Personal life[edit]

In 1921, Segni married Laura Carta Camprino (18 April 1896 – 21 July 1977)[9] and had four sons, Celestino (1926–1987)[10], Giuseppe (born 1928), Paolo (born 1931) and Mariotto (born 1939). Segni's son, Mariotto Segni, is also a prominent Italian politician.


  1. ^ Rizzo, Tito Lucrezio (23 October 2012). Parla il Capo dello Stato: sessanta anni di vita repubblicana attraverso il Quirinale 1946-2006 (in Italian). Gangemi Editore spa. ISBN 9788849274608.
  2. ^ a b "Italy: Symbol of the Nation". Time. 18 May 1962. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  3. ^ a b "ITALY: New Man on the Job". Time. 18 July 1955. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  4. ^ Ginsborg, Paul (2003). A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988, Palgrave Macmillan, p. 122ISBN 1-4039-6153-0
  5. ^ "ITALY: Right Turn". Time. 2 March 1959. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  6. ^ Growth to Limits: The Western European Welfare States Since World War II Volume 4 edited by Peter Flora
  7. ^ Marcus, George E. (15 March 1999). Paranoia Within Reason: A Casebook on Conspiracy as Explanation. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226504575.
  8. ^ "Italy: Malato di Ferro". Time. 2 October 1964. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  9. ^ "Accademia sarda di storia di cultura e di lingua » Blog Archive » Protagoniste del caritatismo cattolico sassarese (1856-1970) a cura di Angelino Tedde" (in Italian). Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  10. ^ "Celestino Segni". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  • Marcus, George E. (1999). ‘’Paranoia Within Reason: A Casebook on Conspiracy as Explanation'’, Chicago: University of Chicago Press ISBN 0-226-50457-3

External links[edit]