Alcide De Gasperi

De Gasperi, Alcide (älchēˈdā dā gäˈspārē) [key], 1881–1954, Italian premier and a founder of the Christian Democratic party. Born in the Trentino—then under Austria—he represented Italian irredentists in the Austrian parliament and after the transfer of the Trentino to Italy at the end of World War I served (1921–24) as a Catholic deputy in the Italian parliament. After 16 months of imprisonment as an anti-Fascist, De Gasperi received (1931) a position at the Vatican Library; there he organized during World War II the center-right Christian Democratic party. A successor in part to Luigi Sturzo's Popular party, the moderately conservative group derived its program from the social teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. After the Italian surrender in 1943 he held several cabinet posts. From 1945 to 1953 he was premier of eight successive coalition cabinets dominated by the Christian Democrats, and as such was the main architect of Italy's initial postwar, post-Fascist recovery. In 1947, De Gasperi excluded the Communists and left-wing Socialists from the government, and in 1948 his party won a major electoral victory. De Gasperi inaugurated land reform, championed close cooperation with the United States, and led Italy into the European Recovery Program and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Italian History: Biographies