13 May 2018

Giuliano Amato – politician

‘Doctor Subtle’ is still working at the age of 80

Giuliano Amato twice served as
Italy's prime minister
Giuliano Amato, who has twice served as prime minister of Italy, was born on this day in 1938 in Turin.

During his first period as prime minister, for 10 months between 1992 and 1993, a series of corruption scandals rocked Italy, sweeping away the careers of many leading politicians. Amato was never implicated, despite being close to Bettino Craxi, the leader of the Italian Socialist party, who was investigated by Milan judges in the probe into corruption that became known as Mani pulite, which literally means ‘clean hands’. Craxi was eventually convicted of corruption and the illicit financing of his party.

Amato has earned the nickname ‘dottor sottile’ the sobriquet of the medieval Scottish philosopher Jon Duns Scotus, which is a reference to his perceived political subtlety.

Born into a Sicilian family living in Turin at the time, Amato spent his early years growing up in Tuscany.

He attended the Collegio Medico Giuridico, which is today the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, part of Pisa University, and obtained a degree in law. He also received a Masters degree in comparative law from Columbia Law School.

Amato taught at the universities of Modena, Perugia and Florence and then became professor of Italian and Comparative Constitutional Law at La Sapienza, the University of Rome.

Amato had close ties with the disgraced former prime minister Bettino Craxi
Amato had close ties with the disgraced
former prime minister Bettino Craxi
A member of the Italian Socialist Party, Amato was elected to parliament in 1983. He later served as under secretary of state, deputy prime minister and minister of the treasury.

After becoming prime minister in 1992, Amato responded effectively to two devaluations of the lira in the wake of currency speculation that led to Italy being expelled from the European Monetary System. He cut the budget deficit drastically, taking the first steps towards Italy adopting the Euro.

His government was challenged when it moved the responsibility for anti-corruption investigations into the hands of the police. The police were controlled by the government so it was feared the investigations would not have been independent.

Italians protested in the streets and President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro refused to sign the decree. It was never decided whether Amato was blameless, or had been trying to save the corrupt system.

After his term as prime minister, Amato held a number of high offices before becoming prime minister again in 2000. He promoted economic competitiveness as well as social protection and instigated political and institutional reforms.

When his second term came to an end he was appointed to help draft the European constitution and later served in Romano Prodi’s centre left government.

Still working right up to his 80th birthday, Amato currently serves the Constitutional Court, leads advanced seminars in International Public Affairs and is honorary co-chair for the World Justice Project.

His wife, Diana, is professor of family law at the University of Rome and they have two children and five grandchildren.

The Palazzo alla Giornata, part of the University of Pisa
The Palazzo alla Giornata, part of the University of Pisa
Travel tip:

Pisa University, where Amato obtained a law degree, was founded in 1343 making it the 10th oldest in Italy and it houses Europe’s oldest academic botanical garden. The main university buildings are in and around Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, overlooking the River Arno, a short walk from the city’s famous Leaning Tower.

The entrance to LUISS in Rome
The entrance to LUISS in Rome
Travel tip:

Amato currently leads seminars in International Public Affairs at The School of Government of Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali (LUISS) Guido Carli in Rome. The university focuses on business studies, economics, politics and law and is based in parkland in Viale Romania in the city, close to the Catacombs of Priscilla.

Also on this day:

1804: The birth of Venetian patriot and leader Daniele Manin

1909: The first Giro d'Italia cycle race begins in Milan


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