Antonio Segni

Senator for life
Antonio Segni
4th President of Italy
In office
11 May 1962  6 December 1964
Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani
Giovanni Leone
Aldo Moro
Preceded by Giovanni Gronchi
Succeeded by Giuseppe Saragat
34th Prime Minister of Italy
In office
15 February 1959  25 March 1960
President Giovanni Gronchi
Preceded by Amintore Fanfani
Succeeded by Fernando Tambroni
In office
6 July 1955  19 May 1957
President Giovanni Gronchi
Deputy Giuseppe Saragat
Preceded by Mario Scelba
Succeeded by Adone Zoli
Deputy Prime Minister of Italy
In office
1 July 1958  15 February 1959
Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani
Preceded by Giuseppe Pella
Succeeded by Attilio Piccioni
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
25 March 1960  7 May 1962
Prime Minister Fernando Tambroni
Amintore Fanfani
Preceded by Giuseppe Pella
Succeeded by Amintore Fanfani
Minister of the Interior
In office
15 February 1959  25 March 1960
Prime Minister Himself
Preceded by Fernando Tambroni
Succeeded by Giuseppe Spataro
Minister of Defence
In office
1 July 1958  15 February 1959
Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani
Preceded by Paolo Emilio Taviani
Succeeded by Giulio Andreotti
Minister of Education
In office
17 August 1953  18 January 1954
Prime Minister Giuseppe Pella
Preceded by Giovanni Bettiol
Succeeded by Egidio Tosato
In office
26 July 1951  16 July 1953
Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi
Preceded by Guido Gonnella
Succeeded by Giovanni Bettiol
Minister of Agriculture
In office
13 July 1946  26 July 1951
Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi
Preceded by Fausto Gullo
Succeeded by Amintore Fanfani
Personal details
Born (1891-02-02)2 February 1891
Sassari, Sardinia, Italy
Died 1 December 1972(1972-12-01) (aged 81)
Rome, Latium, Italy
Nationality Italian
Political party Christian Democracy
Spouse(s) Laura Carta Camprino (died 1977)
Religion Roman Catholicism

Antonio Segni (Italian pronunciation: [anˈtɔnjo ˈseɲɲi]; 2 February 1891 – 1 December 1972) was an Italian politician who was the 34th Prime Minister of Italy (1955–1957, 1959–1960), and the fourth President of the Italian Republic 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 for 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."[1] In 1946, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly after World War II and then to parliament in 1948.

In Government

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.[2] He became known as a "white Bolshevik" for his introduction of agrarian reform.

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.[3] 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.[4]


Segni was elected President of the Italian Republic on 6 May 1962 (854 to 443 votes).[1] 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.[5]

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.[2] He died on 1 December 1972, in Rome. The frail, often ailing Segni, was affectionately called malato di ferro—"the invalid with the iron constitution".[6]

Segni's son, Mariotto Segni, is also a prominent Italian politician.


  1. 1 2 Symbol of the Nation, Time Magazine, 18 May 1962
  2. 1 2 New Man on the Job, Time Magazine, 18 July 1955
  3. Right Turn, Time Magazine, 2 March 1959
  4. Growth to Limits: The Western European Welfare States Since World War II Volume 4 edited by Peter Flora
  5. Marcus, Paranoia Within Reason, pp. 207-08
  6. Malato di Ferro, Time Magazine, 2 October 1964

External links

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