A president never over the top, scrupulous in his work and polite in his manners, but inflexible in his decisions; A man all in one piece of the twentieth century, a rare commodity for this ramshackle new millennium. Perhaps condemned to remain on the Hill for this very reason. Giorgio 'the Englishman' - an export communist, the ideal face to clear the old PCI abroad - left a life full of battles, between the obvious applause of friends and the esteem built over time by opponents.
He accompanied nine years of republican history from the Quirinale with the elegance that characterized an entire life dedicated to politics. The first communist leader to obtain a visa for the United States, an admirer of Anglo-Saxon culture, an excellent command of English, Napolitano reigned over a Quirinale that dominated the torments and rubble of politics, strong and respected as never before, authoritative in its international projection.
A president arrived at a mature age on the Hill but open to the new, to civil rights, progressive and convinced of the universality of ethics and morals. A layman, although interested in the problems of the soul, as he explained by trying to define the deep relationship he built with pope Ratzinger. Appreciated and esteemed Oltretevere, he fought for the dignity of prisoners in prisons and spent himself to enhance the role of women. He risked personally in the very delicate case of Eluana Englaro, resisting the shoulders of the center-right and the anathemas of the most conservative Catholic circles.
Pragmatic, he praised Berlinguer's "courage" in opening up to the historic compromise of 1976, proposing it as a model of broad understanding to today's Democratic Party. And on this, there is no doubt, he never changed his mind. To want to find a fault with him, it must be recognized that from the top of the Hill he could not see how strong the disgust of the Italians was for the immobility of the parties: the cyclone Grillo took him by surprise and made the mistake of archiving the wave of protest with a certain haughtiness.
'King George', as the New York Times defined him, comparing him to George VI, the sovereign who became a symbol of British resistance to the Nazis. The president of Naples who loves Rome, always in the company of his wife Clio. He so little 'Neapolitan' in the popular sense of the term: a reserved president that the Hill - beyond his close entourage - almost did not know. Neither charlatan nor extrovert, 'Giorgio il migliorista' almost flew in the corridors of the Quirinale where - in truth - he rarely appeared. And when he appeared, many feared him, for his scrupulousness that at times bordered on a fussiness incapable of delegating.
First communist president, he began his seven-year term thanks to the abstention of the PDL amid the perplexities of his 'comrades'. A difficult start. But Napolitano has set a bipartisan pace as a cross-country skier. He was able, slowly, to conquer even the citizens by interpreting their most genuine feelings, as when he was seen in Berlin rejoicing - always with his all-British understatement - for the victory of the Azzurri. Of course, King George was not the force of nature that Sandro Pertini was. The president who drove the country crazy with a broom played with Bearzot, Causio and Zoff on the plane that brought home the unforgettable world champions of 1982. His reserved character, however, has not prevented him from engaging in tough battles, as in 2011 with Berlusconi put on the ropes by speculation and sex scandals. A tug of war that forced the knight to take a step back, leaving Palazzo Chigi to Mario Monti.
Critics will talk about a presidential republic and an extensive interpretation of its prerogatives. Supporters will see it as a decisive move to avoid the collapse of the country. Despite this, he has often been criticized on the left, where many have not liked his 'green light' to PDL measures such as, for example, the Alfano award. The leitmotif of his action was the dialogue between the political forces. He spent the first two years taking care of the shaky Prodi government. Until his fall and the return of the Knight to Palazzo Chigi. The next three years were spent trying to stem Berlusconi's activism.
Paradoxically, it is precisely with the birth of the technical government (considered its political masterpiece) that the most difficult phase begins: having avoided the ravine of the crisis, Italy is unable to dodge that of recession. The image of the 'technical' government gradually crumbles. The PDL dropped him and Monti resigned, against the president's advice. Not only that, he decides to 'get into politics'. Napolitano, unnecessarily, advises against it. Their personal relationships are broken. Then, the election results, the political stalemate and the criticism for the initiative of the wise men, gave Napolitano a "bitter" conclusion to his first seven years.
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