Open main menu

Enrico De Nicola, OMRI (Italian pronunciation: [enˈriːko de niˈkɔːla] (About this soundlisten); 9 November 1877 – 1 October 1959)[1] was an Italian jurist, journalist, politician, and provisional Head of State of republican Italy from 1946 to 1948. Afterwards, he became the first President of Italy on 1 January 1948.[2]

Enrico De Nicola

Enrico De Nicola.jpg
1st President of Italy
In office
1 January 1948 – 12 May 1948
Prime MinisterAlcide De Gasperi
Preceded byUmberto II (King of Italy)
Title last held by Napoleon Bonaparte under the Italian Republic (Napoleonic)
Succeeded byLuigi Einaudi
Provisional Head of State of Italy
In office
1 July 1946 – 1 January 1948
Prime MinisterAlcide De Gasperi
Preceded byAlcide De Gasperi
Succeeded byPosition abolished
President of the Constitutional Court
In office
23 January 1956 – 26 March 1957
Preceded byPosition created
Succeeded byGaetano Azzariti
President of the Senate of the Republic
In office
28 April 1951 – 24 June 1952
Preceded byIvanoe Bonomi
Succeeded byGiuseppe Paratore
President of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
26 June 1920 – 25 January 1924
MonarchVittorio Emanuele III
Preceded byVittorio Emanuele Orlando
Succeeded byAlfredo Rocco
Personal details
Born(1877-11-09)9 November 1877
Naples, Campania, Kingdom of Italy
Died1 October 1959(1959-10-01) (aged 81)
Torre del Greco, Campania, Italy
Political partyItalian Liberal Party
Alma materUniversity of Naples Federico II


Enrico De Nicola was born in Naples and became famous as a penal lawyer. He studied law in the University of Naples, graduating in 1896.[3] As a Liberal he was elected a deputy for the first time in 1909 and, from 1913 to 1921, he filled minor governmental posts until the advent of fascism, when he retired from political life. He served as Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Giolitti government (November 1913-March 1914) and Under-Secretary of State for the Treasury in the Orlando cabinet (January–June 1919). On 26 June 1920, he was elected speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, holding office until January 1924. He was appointed senator by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1929, but he refused to take his seat and never took part in the workings of the Assembly.[4]

He returned to his law practice, only taking an interest in politics again after the fall of Italian Fascism. After Benito Mussolini's fall from power in 1943, king Victor Emmanuel tried to extricate the monarchy from its collaboration with the Fascist regime; De Nicola was perhaps the most influential mediator in the ensuing transition. The king's son Umberto acquired a new title of "Lieutenant-General of the Realm" and took over most of the functions of the sovereign. Victor Emanuel later abdicated; Umberto became king as Umberto II and a Constitutional Referendum was held, won by republicans. A new Constituent Assembly was elected, and prime minister Alcide de Gasperi became acting head of state for a few weeks when Umberto II was exiled and left Italy. The Constituent Assembly then elected De Nicola Provisional Head of State on 28 June 1946, with 80% of the votes, at the first round of voting. Giulio Andreotti later recalled that De Nicola — a man of great modesty — was not sure whether to accept the nomination, and underwent frequent changes of mind in the face of repeated insistence by all the major political leaders. Andreotti recalled that the journalist Manlio Lupinacci then issued an appeal to De Nicola in the pages of Il Giornale d'Italia: "Your Excellency, please, decide to decide if you can accept to accept...."[5]

On 25 June 1947, De Nicola resigned from the post, citing health reasons, but the Constituent Assembly immediately re-elected him again the following day, having recognized in his act signs of nobility and humility. After the Italian Constitution took effect, he was formally named the "President of the Italian Republic" on 1 January 1948. He finally refused to be a candidate for the first constitutional election the following May, in which Luigi Einaudi was elected to the Quirinale, the formal seat of the Italian presidency.[6]

In 1956, De Nicola became a senator for life as a former Head of State, and later was elected President of the Senate, and of the Constitutional Court.

He died at Torre del Greco, in the province of Naples, in 1959. He was unmarried.

De Nicola signs the Italian Constitution on 27 December 1947


Political titlesEdit

His other political titles included President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Temporary Chief of the Italian State and President of the Italian Senate.[8]


  1. ^ Profile of Enrico De Nicola
  2. ^ Favor, Lesli J. (2004). Italy: a primary source cultural guide. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 36. ISBN 0-8239-3839-5.
  3. ^
  4. ^ S.M. Sergio, Elogio dell'Avvocato, Pironti "Archived copy" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Accessed 27 October 2010
  5. ^ B. Vespa, Storia d'Italia da Mussolini a Berlusconi, p. 32 (in Italian)
  6. ^ Cristina Mascheroni, Enrico De Nicola, Infobergamo (2006) [1] (in Italian) Accessed 26 January 2012
  7. ^ Italian Government website: details of award to De Nicola
  8. ^


  • Andrea Jelardi, Enrico De Nicola. Il presidente galantuomo, Kairòs [2], Naples (2009). (in Italian)
Political offices
Preceded by
Umberto II as King of Italy
Title last held by Napoleon Bonaparte
President of Italy
Succeeded by
Luigi Einaudi
Italian Chamber of Deputies
Preceded by
Luigi Simeoni
Member of the Chamber of Deputies from Afragola
Legislatures: XXIII, XXIV
1291 (57%), 8140 (87%)
Succeeded by
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Constituency established
Member of the Chamber of Deputies from Campania
Legislatures: XXV, XXVI

Succeeded by
Title jointly held
Preceded by
Vittorio Emanuele Orlando
President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies
Succeeded by
Alfredo Rocco
Italian Senate
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Italian Royal Senator
Legislatures: XXVIII, XXX

Succeeded by
Title jointly held
Preceded by
None, Senate re-established
Italian Senator for Life
Legislatures: I, II, III

Succeeded by
Title jointly held
Preceded by
Ivanoe Bonomi
President of the Italian Senate
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Paratore
Legal offices
Preceded by
New title
President of the Italian Constitutional Court
Succeeded by
Gaetano Azzariti
City of Naples
Preceded by
Title jointly held
Municipal Councillor
Succeeded by
Title jointly held