Paolo Gentiloni Silveri (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpaːolo dʒentiˈloːni]; born 22 November 1954) is an Italian politician who served as the 57th Prime Minister of Italy from 2016 to 2018. A founding member of the Democratic Party, of which he became President in March 2019, Gentiloni served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 31 October 2014 until December 2016, when President Sergio Mattarella asked him to form a new government. Previously, he was Minister of Communications from 2006 to 2008, during the second government of Romano Prodi.
|57th Prime Minister of Italy|
12 December 2016 – 1 June 2018
|Preceded by||Matteo Renzi|
|Succeeded by||Giuseppe Conte|
|President of the Democratic Party|
|Assumed office |
17 March 2019
|Vice President||Anna Ascani|
|Preceded by||Matteo Orfini|
|Minister of Foreign Affairs|
31 October 2014 – 12 December 2016
|Prime Minister||Matteo Renzi|
|Preceded by||Federica Mogherini|
|Succeeded by||Angelino Alfano|
|Minister of Communications|
17 May 2006 – 8 May 2008
|Prime Minister||Romano Prodi|
|Preceded by||Mario Landolfi|
|Succeeded by||Claudio Scajola (Economic Development)|
|Member of the Chamber of Deputies|
|Assumed office |
30 May 2001
|Constituency||Piedmont 2 (2001–2006)|
Lazio 1 (2006–2018)
Paolo Gentiloni Silveri
22 November 1954
|Political party||The Daisy (2002–2007)|
Democratic Party (2007–present)
Emanuela Mauro (m. 1989)
|Alma mater||Sapienza University|
Despite being considered a caretaker Prime Minister at the beginning of his term, during his year and a half tenure, Gentiloni promoted the implementation and the approval of several reforms like the advance healthcare directive and a new electoral law. His government also introduced more severe and stricter rules regarding immigration to Italy and social security, to counteract the European migration crisis.
Gentiloni's foreign policy was characterized by a strong Europeanist stance; he also built up a series of close relations with the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, started an investments' policy toward Africa and normalized Italian relations with India after years of tensions.
Early life and familyEdit
A descendant of Count Gentiloni Silveri, Paolo Gentiloni is related to the Italian politician Vincenzo Ottorino Gentiloni, who was the leader of the conservative Catholic Electoral Union and a key ally of the long-time Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti. Gentiloni has the titles of Nobile of Filottrano, Nobile of Cingoli, and Nobile of Macerata.
Gentiloni was born in Rome in 1954, during his childhood he attended a Montessori institute, where he became a friend of Agnese Moro, the daughter of Aldo Moro, a Christian democratic leader and Prime Minister. During early 1970s he attended the Classical Lyceum Torquato Tasso in Rome; he graduated in political sciences at the Sapienza University of Rome. Gentiloni was a professional journalist before entering politics.
Early political careerEdit
During 1970s, Paolo Gentiloni was a member of the Student Movement (Movimento Studentesco), an extreme left-wing youth organization led by Mario Capanna; when Capanna founded the Proletarian Democracy party, Gentiloni did not follow him, and joined the Workers' Movement for Socialism, a far-left Maoist group, of which he became the regional secretary for Lazio.
Gentiloni slowly abandoned far-left ideals, sharing more moderate views and becoming particularly involved in green politics and ecologism. During those years he became a close friend of Chicco Testa who helped Gentiloni to become director of La Nuova Ecologia ("The New Ecology"), the official newspaper of Legambiente. As director of this ecologist newspaper he met the young leader of Federation of the Greens, Francesco Rutelli and became, along with Roberto Giachetti, Michele Anzaldi and Filippo Sensi, a member of the so-called "Rutelli boys", a group formed by Rutelli's closest advisors and supporters.
Rome City CouncilEdit
In 1993 he became Rutelli's spokesman during his campaign to become Mayor of Rome; after the election, which saw a strong victory by Rutelli against Gianfranco Fini, leader of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, Gentiloni was appointed Great Jubilee and Tourism Councillor in the Rome City Council. Rutelli was reelected in 1997, with 985,000 popular votes, the highest share in the history of the City.
Gentiloni held his office until January 2001, when Rutelli resigned to become the centre-left candidate to the premiership in the 2001 general election. However Rutelli was soundly defeated by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi with 35.1% of votes against 49.6%.
Member of Parliament and MinisterEdit
In the 2001 general election, Gentiloni was elected as a Member of Parliament and started his national political career. In 2002 he was a founding member of the Christian leftist The Daisy party, being the party's communications spokesman for five years. From 2005 until 2006, he was Chairman of the Broadcasting Services Watchdog Committee; the committee oversees the activity of state broadcaster RAI, which is publicly funded. He was reelected in the 2006 election as a member of The Olive Tree, the political coalition led by the Bolognese economist Romano Prodi. After the centre-left's victory, Gentiloni served as Minister for Communications in Prodi's second government from 2006 until 2008.
As minister Gentiloni planned to reform the Italian television system, with the defeat of the Gasparri Law, the previous reform proposed by the centre-right lawmaker Maurizio Gasparri. The reform provided, between other things, the reduction of advertising. However, in 2007, the government suffered a crisis and lost its majority, so the reform had never been approved.
He was one of the 45 members of the national founding committee of the Democratic Party in 2007, formed by the union of the democratic socialists Democrats of the Left and the Christian leftist The Daisy. Gentiloni was re-elected in the 2008 general election, which saw the victory of the conservative coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi. In this legislature he was a member of the Committee regarding Transports and Telecommunications.
On 6 April 2013 he ran in the primary election to select the center-left candidate for Mayor of Rome, placing third, with 14% of votes, after Ignazio Marino (51%), who became Mayor, and the journalist David Sassoli, who gained 28%. After the defeat in the primary election, many political commentators believed that Gentiloni's career as a prominent member of the centre-left was over.
However, Gentiloni was elected again to the Chamber of Deputies in the 2013 general election, as part of the centre-left coalition Italy. Common Good led by Pier Luigi Bersani, Secretary of the PD. In 2013, after Bersani's resignation as Secretary, Gentiloni supported the Mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, in the Democratic Party leadership election.
Minister of Foreign AffairsEdit
On 31 October 2014 Gentiloni was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi; Gentiloni succeeded Federica Mogherini, who became High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. He took office two months before Italy's rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union ended in December 2014. At the time of his appointment, Gentiloni had not been mentioned in political circles as a candidate. Renzi had reportedly wanted to replace Mogherini with another woman, to preserve gender parity in his 16-member cabinet. Moreover, Gentiloni was not known as a specialist in international diplomacy.
On 13 February 2015, during an interview on Sky TG24, Gentiloni stated that "if needed, Italy will be ready to fight in Libya against the Islamic State, because the Italian government can not accept the idea that there is an active terrorist threat only a few hours from Italy by boat." The following day Gentiloni was threatened by ISIL, which accused him of being a crusader, minister of an enemy country.
On 11 July 2015, a car bomb exploded outside the Italian consulate in the Egyptian capital Cairo, resulting in at least one death and four people injured; the Islamic State claimed responsibility. On the same day Gentiloni stated that "Italy will not be intimidated" and would continue the fight against terrorism.
In December 2015, Gentiloni hosted a peace conference in Rome with the representatives from both governments of Libya involved in the civil war, but also from the United Nations, the United States and Russia.
As Foreign Minister, Gentiloni had to confront various abductions of Italian citizens. In January 2015, he negotiated the release of Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli, two Italian students and activists who had been held hostage by Syrian terrorists for 168 days.
Another high-profile case was the murder of Giulio Regeni, an Italian Cambridge University graduate student killed in Cairo following his abduction on January 25, 2016; He was a Ph.D. student researching Egypt's independent trade unions. Regeni's mutilated and half-naked corpse was found in a ditch alongside the Cairo-Alexandria highway on the outskirts of Cairo on February 3, 2016. His recovered body showed signs of extreme torture like contusions and abrasions, extensive bruising from kicks, punches, and assault with a stick, more than two dozen bone fractures, a brain hemorrhage and a broken cervical vertebra, which ultimately caused death. The Egyptian police was strongly suspected of involvement in his murder in Europe, although Egypt's media and government deny this, alleging secret undercover agents belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt carried out the crime in order to embarrass the Egyptian government and destabilize relations between Italy and Egypt.
In the 2016 United Nations Security Council election, Gentiloni and his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders agreed on splitting a two-year term on the United Nations Security Council after the United Nations General Assembly was deadlocked on whether to choose Italy or the Netherlands following five rounds of voting for the last remaining 2017–18 seat. Such arrangements were relatively common in deadlocked elections starting in the late 1950s until 1966, when the Security Council was enlarged. This however would be the first time in over five decades that two members agreed to split a term; intractable deadlocks have instead usually been resolved by the candidate countries withdrawing in favor of a third member state.
Prime Minister of ItalyEdit
On 7 December 2016, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced his resignation, following the rejection of his proposals to overhaul the Italian Senate in the 2016 Italian constitutional referendum. A few days later, on 11 December 2016, Gentiloni was asked by President Mattarella to form a new government. On the following day Gentiloni was officially sworn in as the new head of the government.
He led a coalition government supported by his own Democratic Party and the Christian democratic Popular Area, composed of the New Centre-Right and the Centrists for Italy. This was the same majority that had supported Renzi's government for almost three years. Meanwhile, the centrist Liberal Popular Alliance (ALA), led by Denis Verdini, did not support the new cabinet because no member of the ALA was appointed as a minister.
On 13 December his cabinet won a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies, with 368 votes for and 105 against, while the deputies of the Five Star Movement and the Lega Nord left the chamber. On the following day the government also won a confidence vote in the Senate of the Republic, with 169 votes for and 99 against.
On 29 December deputy ministers of the Democratic Party, New Centre-Right, as well as the Italian Socialist Party and Solidary Democracy, were appointed. After the split of the Democrats and Progressives from the Democratic Party, that party was presented by one deputy minister in the government.
On 19 July 2017 Gentiloni became Minister of Regional Affairs ad interim, after the resignation of Enrico Costa, member of Popular Alternative, who often criticized Gentiloni's views and ideas, especially regarding immigration and birthright citizenship.
On 24 March 2018, following the elections of the presidents of the two houses of the Italian Parliament, Roberto Fico (M5S) and Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati (FI), Gentiloni resigned his post to President Mattarella; however he remained in office until 1 June, when Giuseppe Conte was sworn in as the new Prime Minister, at the head of a populist coalition composed by the M5S and the League.
On 19 May 2017, the Council of Ministers, on the proposal of Prime Minister Gentiloni and Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin, approved a decree law containing urgent vaccine prevention measures that reintroduced the mandatory vaccination, bringing the number of mandatory vaccines from 4 to 12 and not allowing those who have not been vaccinated to attend school.
On 14 December 2017, the Parliament officially approved a law concerning the advance healthcare directive, better known as "living will", a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity. With this law, living will has become legal in Italy. The law also provided the refusal of end-of-life cares. The bill was harshly opposed by many Christian democratic and social conservative politicians of Forza Italia, Lega Nord, Brothers of Italy and even PD's ally Popular Alternative, while it was supported by PD, Five Star Movement, Democratic and Progressive Movement and Italian Left.
The Catholic Church, led by Pope Francis, did not put up major objections to the living will law, saying that a balance needed to be struck with the prevention of excessive treatment or therapeutic obstinacy.
In March 2017 the government abolished the use of labour vouchers, bonds of the redeemable transaction type which are worth a certain monetary value and which may be spent only for specific reasons or on specific goods, commonly one-off labour services. The government decided to promote this law after a referendum that was called by Italy's main trade union CGIL. Gentiloni stated that he decided to abolish them, because he did not want to split the country in another referendum, after the December 2016 constitutional one.
In March 2018, the unemployment rate was around 11%, lower than the previous years, and the percentage of unemployed young people was the lowest since 2011, at 31.7%. This data were seeing by many as the proof of a robust economic recovery started in 2013, after the financial crisis that affected Italy in 2011.
A major problem faced by Gentiloni upon becoming Prime Minister in 2016 was the high levels of illegal immigration to Italy. On 2 February 2017, Gentiloni reached a deal in Rome with Libyan Chairman of the Presidential Council Fayez al-Sarraj on halting migration. Libya agreed to try to stop migrants from setting out to cross the Mediterranean Sea. On 9 February, Gentiloni signed a similar deal with President of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi, to prevent the migration across the Mediterranean.
During his premiership, Gentiloni and his Interior Minister, Marco Minniti, promoted stricter policies regarding immigration and public security, to reduce the number of immigrants toward Italy and to counteract the populist propaganda promoted by the far-right Northern League. In July 2017 the government promoted the so-called "Minniti Code", which must be subscribed by the NGOs that are involved in rescuing asylum seekers in the Mediterranean.
Among other things, the code forbids NGO vessels entering Libyan territorial waters. Minniti and Gentiloni warned those NGOs who did not sign the pact that they have set themselves "outside of the organised system for rescue at sea". Some NGOs refused to sign the new code of conduct; Médecins Sans Frontières was the first charity to officially announce its 'no' to the code, saying that there were no conditions under which to sign. Facing growing public discontent and scrutiny by the Italian, Libyan, and EU authorities, MSF had to suspend its activities in the Mediterranean sea. The German NGO, Sea Watch, said that the code was "largely illegal" and "will not save lives but will have the opposite effect".
In December 2017, the Gentiloni announced the peacekeeping mission which consists in the sending of 450 soldiers in Niger, to help the local forces in the fight against migrants' traffickers and Islamic terrorism. The deal was reached along with French President Emmanuel Macron, who stated that French troops, which were already in the area, will cooperate with Italian ones.
After the rejection of the constitutional reform, the Parliament had to change the electoral law proposed by Renzi's government; in fact the so-called Italicum regulates only the election of the Chamber of Deputies, and not the one of the Senate, which, if the reform passed, would be indirectly elected by citizens. The PD proposed a new electoral law called Mattarellum bis, better known as Rosatellum, from the name of his main proponent Ettore Rosato, Democratic leader in the Chamber of Deputies. This electoral law was similar to the one which was applied in Italy from 1993 to 2005.
The Rosatellum used an additional member system, which act as a mixed system, with 37% of seats allocated using a first past the post electoral system, 61% using a proportional method, with one round of voting and 2% elected in the overseas constituencies. The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies did not differ in the way they allocated the proportional seats, both using the D'Hondt method of allocating seats. The new electoral law was supported by PD and his government ally Popular Alternative, but also by the opposition parties Forza Italia and Lega Nord.
Despite many protests from the Five Star Movement and the Democratic and Progressive Movement, which accused Renzi and Gentiloni to have used the confidence vote in order to approve the law, on 12 September the electoral law was approved by the Chamber of Deputies with 375 votes in favor and 215 against.
Paolo Gentiloni strongly supports European integration and a multi-speed Europe. During his premiership, Gentiloni faced several challenging foreign policy situations, such as the European debt crisis, the civil war in Libya, the insurgency of the Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East. Gentiloni set up good relations with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
In April 2017, he was invited to the White House by President Trump, where the two leaders discussed the serious crisis caused by the civil wars in Libya and Syria, the tensions with Vladimir Putin's Russia and their key partnership against the Islamic terrorism.
As Prime Minister, he hosted the 43rd G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily. This summit was the first one for him and also for U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister May, and President Macron. It was the first time since 1987 that the G7 summit in Italy was not hosted by Silvio Berlusconi.
While in office, Gentiloni built up a series of close relations with the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, based especially on commercial agreements regarding oil and offshore producing concessions. Gentiloni visited the Arab peninsula three times thought his premiership. On 1 May 2017, he went to Kuwait, where he had bilateral meetings with the Emir Sabah al-Ahmad and the crown prince Nawaf Al-Ahmad; later the premier visited the Italian soldiers stationed in Kuwait as part of the anti-ISIL coalition. On 31 October 2017, the Prime Minister met in Riyadh, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Gentiloni, later visited Qatar, where he met with the Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and visited the National Library of Qatar with Emir's consort, Moza bint Nasser. Gentiloni visited the United Arab Emirates twice; the first one in November 2017 and the second one in March 2018, when he met in Abu Dhabi the crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. During his visit he participated in the signing ceremony of a commercial agreements between Eni and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.
In May 2017, he had an official trip to China to meet President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang, to discuss about the One Belt One Road Initiative, a development strategy proposed by the Chinese government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. Gentiloni stated that "Italy can be a key protagonist in this great operation: it is a great opportunity for us and my presence here means how much we consider it important."
On 16 and 17 May, Paolo Gentiloni went to Sochi, where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders stressed their hope for a loosening of international sanctions against Russia and for a re-opening of a dialogue between Russia and NATO. They also signed six economic deals between the Italian Eni and the Russian Rosneft.
On 20 September, Prime Minister Gentiloni spoke at the United Nations General Assembly during the UN annual summit in New York City. Gentiloni focused his speech on the problem of climatic change, the facing of migrant crisis and the fight against Islamic terrorism.
On 29 and 30 October, Gentiloni went to India, where he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After some years of tensions due to the case of the two Italian marines arrested for killing two fishermen in Kerala, the two countries revived normal relations. The two leaders signed some economic treaties and discussed the recognition of the Hare Krishnas, who still are not recognized in Italy as a religious minority. Gentiloni was the first Italian leader to visit India since Romano Prodi in 2007; Gentiloni and Modi described the visit as a "new beginning" and a great opportunity for both countries.
During his term as foreign affairs minister and especially during his premiership, Gentiloni started a policy review led to the creation of the Italy–Africa initiative, which includes renewable energy co-operation and a new package of development aid in fields stretching from health care to culture; counterterrorism has been a key part of his agenda, but the West Africa region is also important to stop the migration flows from there to Italy through North Africa, especially Libya. In November 2017 he started one of the most important foreign mission of his tenure. On 24 November, Gentiloni visited Tunisia, where met President Moncef Marzouki and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, with whom he discuss about migrant crisis, fight against terrorism and Libyan Civil War. He also had a meeting with the Italian community in Tunis. On 26 November he moved to Angola, where he had a bilateral meeting with President João Lourenço; the two leaders signed many economic deals between Eni and the Angolan Sonangol Group. On the following days Gentiloni went to Ghana to meet President Nana Akufo-Addo and visit Eni's plant named "John Agyekum Kufuor". On 28 November he moved to Ivory Coast to participate at the EU–African Union summit.
On 28 December 2017 President Sergio Mattarella, after a meeting with Gentiloni, dissolved the Parliament, calling for new elections, which was held on March 4, 2018. Gentiloni remained in office, with all his powers, until a new cabinet is formed. During the electoral campaign, many prominent members of the centre-left like Romano Prodi, Walter Veltroni and Carlo Calenda asked Renzi to renounce his candidacy and to select Gentiloni as the centre-left candidate for the premiership. Renzi had always denied these proposals stating that the electoral law did not require to appoint a candidate for Prime Minister and that he was elected secretary of the party with almost 70% of votes, thus due to the party's statute the candidate was him.
In the election the centre-right alliance, in which Matteo Salvini's League emerged as the main political force, won a plurality of seats in the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate, while the anti-establishment Five Star Movement led by Luigi Di Maio became the party with the largest number of votes and the centre-left coalition, led by Renzi, came third. However, due to the largely proportional electoral law, no political group or party won an outright majority, resulting in a hung parliament.
In his electoral constituency in the city centre of Rome, Gentiloni won with 42.06% of votes against the centre-right candidate Luciano Ciocchetti (30.85%) and the Five Star, Agiolino Cirulli, who gained 16.73%.
After the premiershipEdit
After the end of his premiership, Gentiloni often expressed his skeptical views toward the new government. He especially attacked the new Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, condemning his far-right policies regarding immigration, Romani people, right of self-defense and gun laws.
On 28 June 2018, during an interview to Lilli Gruber's Otto e mezzo, Gentiloni announced his intention to contribute the formation of a broad centre-left coalition, which was seen by many as an intention to run as next Prime Minister candidate for the centre-left. While in October 2018, he endorsed Nicola Zingaretti in the PD's leadership election scheduled in March 2019. Zingaretti won the primary election by a landslide and Gentiloni was appointed new party's president.
Political views and public imageEdit
Paolo Gentiloni is widely considered a Christian leftist and progressive politician. Despite having started his political career within the extra-parliamentary far-left movements, Gentiloni later assumed more Christian democratic and social liberal views. Gentiloni is in favour of the recognition of civil unions for same-sex couples and stepchild adoptions, a situation which occurs when at least one parent has children, from a previous relationship, that are not genetically related to the other parent. He also supports the advance healthcare directive.
While traditionally supporting the social integration of immigrants, since 2017 Paolo Gentiloni has adopted a more critical approach on the issue. Inspired by Marco Minniti, his Interior Minister, the government promoted stricter policies regarding immigration and public security. These policies resulted in broad criticism from the left-wing Democrats and Progressives, PD's partners in the cabinet which later left the government's majority, as well as left-leaning intellectuals like Roberto Saviano and Gad Lerner. In August Lerner, who was among the founding members of the Democratic Party, left the party altogether, due to government's new immigration policies.
Gentiloni is considered by many journalists, politicians and commentators a skilled political mediator and well-wisher of a collective leadership, based on consociationalism and power-sharing, very different from the overflowing political style of his predecessor and party mate, Matteo Renzi. Due to his nature and political views, Gentiloni was sometimes compared to Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister and founder of the centre-left coalition.
According to public opinion surveys in December 2017, after one year of government, Gentiloni's approval rating was 44%, the second highest rating after that of President Sergio Mattarella, and far higher than the other prominent politicians; moreover his approval rating has increased since he came into office. After the 2018 general election, Gentiloni's approval rating rose to 52%, higher than every other political leader and followed by League's leader Matteo Salvini.
On 10 January 2017, after an official trip in Paris to meet President François Hollande, Gentiloni suffered an obstructed coronary artery and received an emergency angioplasty. On the following day Gentiloni tweeted that he felt well and would be back at work soon. On the same day he also received well wishes from President Sergio Mattarella, former Prime Ministers Matteo Renzi and Silvio Berlusconi, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
|2018 general election (C): Rome — Trionfale|
|Paolo Gentiloni||Centre-left coalition||47,737||42.1|
|Luciano Ciocchetti||Centre-right coalition||35,014||30.9|
|Angiolino Cirulli||Five Star Movement||19,987||16.7|
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- (in Italian) (in English) Presidente del Consiglio dei Ministri
- (in Italian) Official page at the Italian Chamber of Deputies
| Minister of Communications
as Minister of Economic Development
| Minister of Foreign Affairs
| Prime Minister of Italy
| Minister of Regional Affairs and Autonomies
| Minister of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies
Gian Marco Centinaio
|Party political offices|
| President of the Democratic Party
| Chair of the Group of Seven