Laureates 2010

2010 Past - March Towards Democracy

Giorgio Napolitano

napolitanoGiorgio Napolitano is the President of the Republic of Italy and is known for his dedication to the cause of Parliamentary democracy and his contribution to the rapprochement between the Italian Left and European Socialism.


As one of the most prominent leaders of the Italian Communist Part (PCI), Napolitano has been pivotal in moving his party from the Soviet orbit and orienting it towards a European model of social-democracy. With the re-alignment of the Italian political scene in the 1980's and onwards, he has been a crucial player in the process of the Italian "Historical Compromise", which bridged the chasm between the Italian left and right, and thus integrated the PCI fully into Italian politics, thus enabling it to participate for the first time since World War II in government.

He became one of the first members of the PCI to serve in an Italian government coalition, was later elected Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and his election in 2006 as President of the Italian Republic has been supported by a wide parliamentary coalition, encompassing parties from all the spectrum of Italian politics.

Napolitano's moving the PCI toward a pan-European and also Atlanticist position had wider repercussions among other European left-wing parties. He established the autonomy of the PCI vis-à-vis Moscow by adopting a courageous independent position criticizing the Soviet intervention in Prague in 1968, and moved the PCI towards adopting a more measured and balanced policy toward the Middle East.

Napolitano's courage and intellectual integrity have been crucial in healing the wounds of the Cold War in Europe, as well as the scars left in Italian politics and culture in the wake of fascism. In this he contributed to a strengthening of democratic values and institutions in Italy and Europe and helped integrate members and parties of the extreme left into the democratic structure of parliamentary politics. His many books attest to a deep commitment to democracy, tolerance and an open society, coupled with cultural richness drawing from the best traditions of the European Enlightenment and the liberal and democratic Italian Risorgimento, inspired by the thoughts of Mazzini and his generation.

In the current somewhat chaotic climate of Italian politics, he stands as a beacon of reason, moderation, democratic values and tolerance, admired and respected by members of all parties and persuasions.