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Walter Veltroni (born 3 July 1955) is an Italianmarker writer, journalist and politician, who served as the first leader of the Democratic Party within the centre-left opposition, until his resignation on February 17, 2009. He also served as Mayor of Rome from 2001 to 2008.

Biography

Walter Veltroni was born in Romemarker. His father, Vittorio Veltroni, an eminent RAImarker manager in the 1950s, died only one year later. His mother, Ivanka Kotnik, was the daughter of Ciril Kotnik, a Yugoslavmarker diplomat at the Holy See who helped numerous Jews and antifascists to escape Nazi persecution after 1943.

Political life

Veltroni joined the Federazione Giovanile Comunista Italiana (Italian Youth Communist Federation) at the age of 15, and was elected Rome city councilor in 1976 as member of the Italian Communist Party, serving until 1981. He was then elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1987. As a member of the Italian Communist Party's national secretariat in 1988, he played a leading role in the transformation into a social democratic party.

Veltroni, a professional journalist, was editor-in-chief of L'Unità, the newspaper of the Democratic Party of the Left from 1992 to 1996. He then successfully ran as vice-premier candidate, together with Romano Prodi, for the 1996 national election in Italy. In 1996 he joined the Bilderberg Group meeting, and was from 1996 to 1998 Minister for Cultural Assets and Activities. In 1998 he resigned, subsequent to his election as National Secretary of the Democrats of the Left (DS). Despite his background as a journalist, he has been involved in controversial episodes related to freedom of expression. For example in 2001, after the late night show Satyricon aired an interview that discussed indictments on links between the right-wing leader and the mafia, Marco Travaglio reported that Veltroni dispatched a messenger menacing the closure of the show.

As Mayor of Rome

In 2001 Veltroni resigned as leader of the party after being elected Mayor of Rome. In May 2006 Veltroni was confirmed Mayor of Rome, easily defeating former Minister of Agriculture Gianni Alemanno, of National Alliance, obtaining an unprecedented 61.4% of the valid votes against the 37.1% achieved by his main opponent. The percentage of votes that supported Veltroni's second term in office was a record in local elections in Rome. Shortly before this confirmation, Veltroni had declared that he was going to leave politics at the end of his second term as Mayor.

In 2003 he received a honoris causa degree in Public Services by the John Cabot University of Rome. In 2006 Veltroni received the title of Cavaliere di Gran Croce (Knight of the Great Cross) from President of the Italian Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

In 2005, as mayor of Rome, he met in Washingtonmarker, during a visit to the United States, then Illinois Senator, Barack Obama, being one of his earliest supporters overseas. He also wrote the preface to the Italian edition of The Audacity of Hope in 2007 and has been referred to as "Obama's European counterpart".

Veltroni was then widely considered one of the most popular centre left politicians in Italy, and often singled out for the leadership of the Democratic Party, despite his statements that he would not accept such position after his tenure as Mayor would end. In June 2007, DS leader Piero Fassino publicly asked Veltroni to run for the party leadership, offering support from all of his party. Several other Democratic Party leading members publicly stated their support for a possible candidacy of Veltroni. Furthermore, the strongest of his possible contenders, Pier Luigi Bersani, which polls showed as having a 50% support in center-north regions, withdrew to avoid a 'confusing candidacy'. Veltroni officially presented his candidacy for the leadership of the Democratic Party at a rally in Turin on 27 June 2007. At this occasion he introduced the four key issues his programme would address: environment, generational pact, education, and public security.

As leader of the Democratic Party

Veltroni was elected as the first leader of the newly-founded Democratic Party on 14 October 2007, winning an open primary with around 2.6 millions of votes, or 75.8%.

In 2007, Veltroni had some remarks against the Romanian immigrants, claiming that Italy has become "unlivable" since Romania joined the European Union, while before its entry, Rome was "the safest city in the world", bringing accusations of xenophobia from the Romanian press.

Following the defeat of Prodi's government in a January 2008 Senate vote, Veltroni led the Democratic Party into the April 2008 general election. Veltroni resigned as Mayor of Rome on 13 February 2008 to concentrate on the campaign.

He has been criticised for his over-frequentation of Rome socialites and advised to focus on more practical problems.

On February 17, 2009, following clashes within the party and only a day after a heavy defeat of the Democratic Party in a local regional election in Sardinia, Veltroni announced his immediate resignation from his leadership post. The Constituent Assembly of the party subsequently convened on February 21 2009 and elected Veltroni's former deputy Dario Franceschini as the new secretary.

Works

Veltroni has written a number of books on various topics, such as music, social issues, fiction, biographies and politics.
  • 1977 - Il PCI e la questione giovanile (The PCI and the Youth Issue)
  • 1978 - A dieci anni dal ’68. Intervista con Achille Occhetto (Ten Years since '68: Interview with Achille Occhetto)
  • 1981 - Il sogno degli anni sessanta (The dream of the Sixties)
  • 1982 - Il calcio è una scienza da amare (Football is a science to be loved)
  • 1990 - Io e Berlusconi (e la Rai) (Berlusconi and me (and RAI))
  • 1992 - I programmi che hanno cambiato l’Italia (Programs that changed Italy)
  • 1992 - Il sogno spezzato. Le idee di Robert Kennedy (The broken dream. The ideas of Robert Kennedy)
  • 1992 - La sfida interrotta. Le idee di Enrico Berlinguer (The interrupted challenge. The ideas of Enrico Berlinguer)
  • 1994 - Certi piccoli amori (Certain small Loves)
  • 1995 - La bella politica (interview book) (Politics, the beautiful)
  • 1997 - Certi piccoli amori 2 (Certain Small Loves II)
  • 1997 - Governare da sinistra (To Govern from the Left)
  • 2000 - I care
  • 2000 - Forse Dio è malato. Diario di un viaggio africano (Perhaps God is sick: Diary of an African journey)
  • 2003 - Il disco del mondo. Vita breve di Luca Flores, musicista (The disk of the world. Short life of Luca Flores, musician)
  • 2004 - Senza Patricio (Without Patricio)
  • 2006 - La scoperta dell'alba (Discovery of the dawn)
  • 2007 - Preface to Barack Obama, L'audacia della speranza (The Audacity of Hope)
  • 2009 - Noi


References

  1. Testimony of the rabbi S. Sorani in the book: Robert G. Weisbord & Wallace P. Sillanpoa, The Chief Rabbi, the Pope, and the Holocaust: An Era in Vatican-Jewish Relations 1992, p. 64
  2. Rome Mayor's Leadership Bid May Lead to Early Italian Elections
  3. VELTRONI A NEW YORK - Il politico prevale sull' amministratore
  4. Libreria Rizzoli Galleria
  5. Obama's European counterparts - "Los Angeles Times"
  6. ,
  7. "Romanian actress battles racism in Italy", The Independent, October 10, 2008
  8. "Romanii din afara granitelor - Cine le apara interesele?", 22, vol. 15, no. 928; 18 December 2007
  9. Elisabeth Rosenthal, "With Flawed System Unchanged, Italy Sets Elections for April", The New York Times, February 7, 2008.
  10. Steve Scherer, "Veltroni Resigns as Rome Mayor to Take on Berlusconi (Update1)", Bloomberg.com, February 13, 2008.
  11. Berlusconi's candidate wins elections in Sardinia


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