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Romano Prodi

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Romano Prodi

The Honourable
Romano Prodi
52nd Prime Minister of Italy
In office
17 May 2006 – 8 May 2008
President Giorgio Napolitano
Deputy Massimo D'Alema
Francesco Rutelli
Preceded by Silvio Berlusconi
Succeeded by Silvio Berlusconi
In office
17 May 1996 – 21 October 1998
President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro
Deputy Walter Veltroni
Preceded by Lamberto Dini
Succeeded by Massimo D'Alema
President of the European Commission
In office
16 September 1999 – 30 October 2004
Preceded by Manuel Marín
Succeeded by José Manuel Barroso
Minister of Industry, Commerce and Craftsmanship
In office
25 November 1978 – 20 March 1979
Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti
Preceded by Carlo Donat-Cattin
Succeeded by Franco Nicolazzi
Personal details
Born (1939-08-09) 9 August 1939
Scandiano, Italy
Political party Christian Democracy
Italian People's Party
(1996–1999; 2002–2007)
The Democrats
Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Flavia Franzoni (m. 1969)
Children Giorgio
Alma mater Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
London School of Economics
Profession Economist, teacher
Religion Catholic Church
This article is part of a series about
Romano Prodi
  • Political offices

President of the European Commission
Prime Minister of Italy
(1996–1998; 2006–2008)

  • Elections

  • Governments

Romano Prodi OMRI (Italian pronunciation: ; born 9 August 1939) is an Italian former politician and economist. He twice served as the Prime Minister of Italy, from 17 May 1996 to 21 October 1998 and from 17 May 2006 to 8 May 2008. He was also the tenth President of the European Commission from 1999 to 2004.

A former professor of economics and international advisor to Giorgio Napolitano, but continued in office for almost four months for routine business, until early elections were held and a new government was formed.

Up to this time, he has been the only one lead candidate of Italian Centre-left who won elections and managed to form a government without the need of opponents' parliamentary support.

On 14 October 2007, Prodi became the first President of the Democratic Party upon foundation of the party.

On 12 September 2008, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon selected Prodi as president of the African Union-UN peacekeeping panel.[1] He is currently serving as the UN Special Envoy for the Sahel.

Prodi is also a member of the Club de Madrid, an international organization of former democratic statesmen, which works to strengthen democratic governance and leadership.[2] He is a former member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[3]


  • Personal life 1
  • Academic career 2
  • Business interests 3
  • Political career 4
    • Early political career 4.1
    • The Olive Tree and first cabinet 4.2
    • President of the European Commission 4.3
    • Return to Italian politics and second government 4.4
    • 2008 crisis and resignation 4.5
    • 2013 presidential candidate 4.6
  • After politics 5
  • Honours and awards 6
    • Academic awards 6.1
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • External links 9

Personal life

Prodi was born in oncologist and biosemiotician).

Prodi married Flavia Franzoni in 1969. He was married by then-priest Bologna.

Academic career

After completing his secondary education at the Liceo Ludovico Ariosto in Reggio Emilia, Prodi graduated in law at Milan's Università Cattolica in 1961 with a thesis on the role of Protectionism in the development of Italian industry. He then carried out postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics.[6]

In 1963, he became a Harvard University and a researcher at the Stanford Research Institute. His research covers mainly competition regulations and the development of small and medium businesses. He is also interested in relations between states and markets, and the dynamics of the different capitalistic models.

Prodi has received almost 20 honorary degrees from institutions in Italy, and from the rest of Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa.[7]

Business interests

In 1982–1989 Prodi was President of the influential state-owned industrial holding company Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI). After leaving his position, Prodi ran the Bologna based consulting company Analisi e Studi Economici, which he jointly owned along with his wife.[8] Between 1990 and 1993 the company earned £1.4 million, most of which was paid by the investment bank Goldman Sachs.[8] In 1993-1994 Prodi was again President of the IRI, where he oversaw extensive privatization of public assets. For his activities in this period Prodi would later twice come under investigation – firstly for an alleged conflict of interest in relation to contracts awarded to his own economic research company in relation to the Italdel-Siemens merger, and secondly concerning the sale of the loss-making state-owned food conglomerate SME to the multinational Unilever, for which he had previously been a paid consultant.[8] Prodi's former employer Goldman Sachs was involved in both of the deals.[8] In February 2007 the Italian Treasury Police raided the Milan office of Goldman Sachs, where they removed a file called "MTononi/memo-Prodi02.doc".[8] They also obtained a letter to Siemens from the Frankfurt office of Goldman Sachs regarding the Italdel deal, which revealed that Prodi was made the Senior Advisor of Goldman Sachs International in Italy in March 1990.[8] In November 1996, after Prodi had been made Prime Minister, Rome prosecutor Guiseppa Geremia concluded that there was enough evidence to press charges against Prodi for conflict of interest in the Unilever deal. The case was however shut down within weeks by superiors, while Geremia was "exiled to Sardinia".[8]

Political career

Early political career

Prodi's political career began as a left-of-centre reformist Christian Democrat and a disciple of Beniamino Andreatta, another economist turned politician. During the mid-1970s he was appointed Minister of Industry. During Giulio Andreotti's government in 1978, he served as a Technical Minister; through the 1980s and early 1990s he continuously served various government committees.

On 2 April 1978, Prodi and other teachers at the University of Bologna passed on a tip-off that revealed the whereabouts of the safe house where the kidnapped Aldo Moro, the former Prime Minister, was being held captive by the Red Brigades. Prodi claimed he had been given this tip-off by the founders of the Christian Democracy party, contacted from beyond the grave via a séance and a Ouija board. Whilst during this supposed séance Prodi thought the word Gradoli referred to a town on the outskirts of Rome, it probably referred to the Roman address of a Red Brigades safe house, located at no. 96, Via Gradoli. Later, other Italian members of the European Commission claimed Prodi had invented this story to conceal the real source of the tip-off, which they believed to have originated somewhere among the far-left Italian political groups.[9]

This issue came back again in 2005, when Prodi was accused of being "a KGB man" by Mario Scaramella.[10] The same accusation was raised in the 1990s by the Mitrokhin Commission.

The Olive Tree and first cabinet

In 1995, Prodi was one of the founders of the centre-left coalition The Olive Tree, and as its main leader he defeated the Silvio Berlusconi-led centre-right Pole of Freedoms coalition in the 1996 Italian general election. This led to Prodi's nomination as President of the Council of Ministers, as the position of Prime Minister is usually called in Italy. Prodi's programme consisted in continuing the past governments' work of restoration of the country's economic health, in order to pursue the then seemingly unreachable goal of leading the country within the strict European Monetary System parameters and make the country join the Euro currency. He succeeded in this in little more than six months. His government fell in 1998 when the Communist Refoundation Party withdrew its support. This led to the formation of a new government led by Massimo D'Alema as Prime Minister. There are those who claim that D'Alema deliberately engineered the collapse of the Prodi government to become Prime Minister himself. As the result of a vote of no confidence in Prodi's government, D'Alema's nomination was passed by a single vote. This was the first and so far, the only occasion in the history of the Italian republic on which a vote of no confidence had ever been called; the Republic's many previous governments had been brought down by a majority "no" vote on some crucially important piece of legislation (such as the budget).

President of the European Commission

Romano Prodi (right) with Gunnebo Slott near Gothenburg, Sweden, 14 June 2001.

In September 1999 Prodi, a strong supporter of European Integration, became President of the European Commission, thanks to the support of both the conservative European People's Party and social-democratic Party of European Socialists in the European Parliament. It was during Prodi's presidency, in 2002, that eleven EU member states left their national currencies and adopted the euro as their single currency. This commission (the 10th) saw in increase in power and influence following Amsterdam Treaty. Some in the media described President Prodi as being the first "Prime Minister of the European Union".[11][12] and in 2004, still during Prodi's presidency, the EU was enlarged to admit several more member nations, most formerly part of the Soviet bloc. As well as the enlargement and Amsterdam Treaty, the Prodi Commission also saw the signing and enforcement of the Treaty of Nice as well as the conclusion and signing of the European Constitution: in which he introduced the "Convention method" of negotiation. Prodi's mandate expired on 18 November 2004, whereupon he returned to domestic politics.

Return to Italian politics and second government

Shortly before the end of his term as President of the European Commission, Prodi returned to national Italian politics at the helm of the enlarged centre-left coalition, The Union.

Having no party of his own, in order to officially state his candidacy for the second cabinet were sworn into office.

Romano Prodi (second from the right) at the Helligendamm G8 Summit, 6–8 June 2007.

Prodi's new cabinet drew in politicians from across his centre-left winning coalition, in addition to Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, an unelected former official of the European Central Bank with no partisan membership. Romano Prodi obtained the support for his cabinet on 19 May at the Senate and on 23 May at the Chamber of Deputies. Also on 18 May, Prodi laid out some sense of his new foreign policy when he pledged to withdraw Italian troops from Iraq and called the Iraq war a "grave mistake that has not solved but increased the problem of security".[13]

The coalition led by Romano Prodi, thanks to the electoral law which gave the winner a sixty-seat majority, can count on a good majority in the Chamber of Deputies but only on a very narrow majority in the Senate. The composition of the coalition was heterogeneous, combining parties of communist ideology, the Party of Italian Communists and Communist Refoundation Party, within the same government as parties of Catholic inspiration, Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy and UDEUR Populars. The latter was led by Clemente Mastella, former chairman of Christian Democracy. Therefore, according to critics, it was difficult to have a single policy in different key areas, such as economics and foreign politics (for instance, Italian military presence in Afghanistan). In his earlier months as PM, Prodi had a key role in the creation of a multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon following the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Prodi's government faced a crisis over policies in early 2007, after just nine months of government. Three ministers in Prodi's Cabinet boycotted a vote in January to continue funding for Italian troop deployments in Afghanistan. Lawmakers approved the expansion of the US military base Caserma Ederle at the end of January, but the victory was so narrow that Deputy Prime Minister Francesco Rutelli criticised members of the coalition who had not supported the government. At around the same time, Justice Minister Clemente Mastella, of the coalition member UDEUR Populars, said he would rather see the government fall than support its unwed couples legislation.[14]

Tens of thousands of people marched in Vicenza against the expansion of Caserma Ederle, which saw the participation of some leading far-left members of the government.[15] Harsh debates followed in the Italian Senate on 20 February 2007. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Massimo D'Alema declared during an official visit in Ibiza, Spain that, without a majority on foreign policy affairs, the government would resign. The following day, D'Alema gave a speech at the Senate representing the government, clarifying his foreign policy and asking the Senate to vote for or against it. In spite of the fear of many senators that Prodi's defeat would return Silvio Berlusconi to power, the Senate did not approve a motion backing Prodi's government foreign policy, two votes shy of the required majority of 160.[16]

Map of international trips made by Romano Prodi as Prime Minister of Italy and President of the European Commission.

After a Government meeting on 21 February, Romano Prodi tendered his resignation to the President Bologna in order to receive the Prime Minister. Prodi's spokesman indicated that he would only agree to form a new Government "if, and only if, he is guaranteed the full support of all the parties in the majority from now on."[17] On 22 February, centre-left coalition party leaders backed a non-negotiable list of twelve political conditions given by Prodi as conditions of his remaining in office. President Napolitano held talks with political leaders on 23 February to decide whether to confirm Prodi's Government, ask Prodi to form a new government or call fresh elections.[18]

Following these talks, on 24 February, President Napolitano asked Prodi to remain in office but to submit to a vote of confidence in both houses.[18][19] "I will seek a vote of confidence as soon as possible, with renewed impetus and a united and determined coalition," Prodi said after meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano.[20] On 28 February, the Senate voted to grant confidence to Prodi's Government. Though facing strong opposition from the centre-right coalition, the vote resulted in a 162–157 victory. Prodi then faced a vote of confidence in the lower house on 2 March, which he won as expected with a large majority of 342–198.[21]

On 14 October 2007, Prodi oversaw the merger of two main parties of the Italian centre-left, Democrats of the Left and Democracy is Freedom – The Daisy, creating the Democratic Party. Prodi himself led the merger of the two parties, which had been planned over a twelve-year period, and became the first President of the party. He announced his resignation from that post on 16 April 2008, two days after the Democratic Party's defeat in the general election.

2008 crisis and resignation

In early January 2008, Justice Minister and UDEUR's leader Clemente Mastella resigned after his wife Sandra Lonardo was put under house arrest for corruption charges. He initially announced external support for the government, only to withdraw it a few days later citing lack of solidarity from the majority parties, and declaring his party would vote against the government bills since then. With three Senators, UDEUR was instrumental to ensure a narrow centre-left majority in the Italian Senate.[22] On 17 January 2008, Prodi became the Minister of Justice ad interim.

This caused Prodi to ask for a confidence vote in both Chambers: he won a clear majority in the Chamber of Deputies on 23 January,[23] but was defeated 156 to 161 (with 1 abstention)[24] in the Senate the next day. He therefore tendered his resignation as Prime Minister to President Franco Marini, with the task of evaulating possibilities for forming interim government to implement electoral reforms prior to holding elections. Marini, after consultation with all major political forces, acknowledged the impossibility of doing so on 5 February, forcing Napolitano to announce the end of the legislature.[25] Prodi said that he would not seek to lead a new government.[26] In the election that followed in April 2008, Berlusconi's centre-right The People of Freedom and allies defeated the Democratic Party.

2013 presidential candidate

Romano Prodi in 2014

Prodi was drafted by PD parliamentarians to be President of Italy during the 2013 presidential election after PD-PdL compromise candidate Franco Marini failed to receive sufficient votes on the first ballot. During the first three rounds of voting few people cast ballots for Prodi (14 on the first ballot, 13 on the second, and 22 on the third). On 16 April 2013, just a few day prior to the fourth ballot, Prodi gave a lectio magistralis at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum entitled “I grandi cambiamenti della politica e dell’economia mondiale: c’è un posto per l’Europa?” ("The Great Changes in Politics and the World Economy: Is there Room for Europe?). Prodi was sponsored by the Angelicum and the Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi[27] on behalf of the Political Science program "Scienze Politiche e del Buon Governo."[28] A few days later, on April 19th, starting on the fourth ballot Prodi was looked at seriously as a possible candidate. However, Prodi announced he was pulling out of the race for president after more than 100 center-left electors didn't vote for him: he received only 395 (of 504 votes needed to be elected.) After this vote Pierlugi Bersani, leader of center-left PD party announced his resignation.

After politics

On 19 March 2008, during the political campaign for the snap general election, Romano Prodi stated "I called it a day with Italian politics and maybe with politics in general."[29]

On 12 September 2008, Prodi was named by the UN as head of a joint AU-UN panel aimed at enhancing peacekeeping operations in Africa.[30]

On 6 February 2009, he was appointed Professor-at-Large at the Watson Institute for International Studies of Brown University.[31] Since 2010 Romano Prodi is the chair for Sino-European dialogue at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS – Shanghai&Beijing), China's leading business school.

On 9 October 2012, Romano Prodi was appointed by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as his Special Envoy for the Sahel.[32]

Honours and awards

Academic awards

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Biography of Romano Prodi (in Italian)
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d e f g
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Prodi to Have Wide, New Powers as Head of the European Commission 16 April 1999
  12. ^ Commentary: Romano Prodi: Europe's First Prime Minister? (int'l edition) 1999
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^
  20. ^ Italy's Leader Asks Premier to Stay on. Associated Press, 25 February 2007.
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ (Italian) Crisi di governo: il Senato sfiducia Prodi - Wikinotizie. Retrieved on 2013-08-24.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Andrew Davis and Steve Scherer, "Prodi Government Near Collapse After Key Ally Defects (Update2)",, 22 January 2008.
  27. ^ Università degli Studi "Guglielmo Marconi" Accessed 17, 2013
  28. ^ Accessed 17 April
  29. ^
  30. ^ Thomson Reuters Foundation | News, Information and Connections for Action. Retrieved on 2013-08-24.
  31. ^
  32. ^ Secretary-General Appoints Romano Prodi of Italy as Special Envoy for Sahel. Retrieved on 2013-08-24.
  33. ^ Received a copy of the key of the city of Tirana Archived 11 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^

External links

  • Democratic Party website
  • Official Site of the President of the European Commission. Includes a curriculum vitae, from which some of the information in this article was drawn.
Political offices
Preceded by
Carlo Donat-Cattin
Minister of Industry, Commerce and Craftsmanship
Succeeded by
Franco Nicolazzi
Preceded by
Lamberto Dini
Prime Minister of Italy
Succeeded by
Massimo D'Alema
Preceded by
Manuel Marín
President of the European Commission
Succeeded by
José Manuel Barroso
Preceded by
Silvio Berlusconi
Prime Minister of Italy
Succeeded by
Silvio Berlusconi
Party political offices
New political party Leader of the Democratic Party
Succeeded by
Rosy Bindi
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