Giovanni Leone ([dʒoˈvanni leˈoːne]; 3 November 1908 – 9 November 2001) was an Italian politician. He was the 37th Prime Minister of Italy from 21 June 1963 to 4 December 1963 and again from 24 June 1968 to 12 December 1968. He also served as the sixth President of Italy from 1971 to 1978.
Leone was born in Naples from Mauro and Maria Gioffredi, both in Pomigliano d'Arco, his father, Mauro Leone was a prominent lawyer of the Naples Bar, and had participated in the founding of the People's Party in Campania.
He graduated in law in 1929 from the prestigious University of Naples Federico II. His father was one of the founders of Democrazia Cristiana in his native city, and he was elected to the Italian Constituent Assembly in 1946. A member of the right wing faction of his party, he was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1948, being confirmed until 1963. In 1955–1963 he was also President of the Chamber, from which he resigned for a brief stint as Premier.
Prime minister and Presidency
After having been unofficially several times candidate to the Presidency of the Republic, he was named Life Senator in 1967.
In 1968 he was again Premier for some months. As prime minister, a law was passed in November 1968 that introduced a special benefit for full unemployment (trattamento integrativo di disoccupazione) for workers in the industrial sector, in cases of total or partial closing down of enterprises or large-scale dismissals, equalling two-thirds of previous monthly earnings for 180 days. The law also extended earnings replacement benefits to cases of sectoral crises or industrial restructuring with a new compensation formula equaling 80% of previous earnings for 3 months (9 months in exceptional circumstances), allowed for family allowances to be paid to those in receipt of unemployment benefits.
In 1971 he succeeded Giuseppe Saragat as President of Italy, being elected with votes of a right-centre majority of the Parliament (518 out of 996 votes, including those of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement).
His political career came to an end in 1978 with his resignation as President of the Italian Republic. This was due to allegations made in the USA over Lockheed bribing a number of high-profile politicians in Italy to purchase Hercules Aircraft for the military. Leone and his family were allegedly implicated in the bribery. The accusations were never proved and the most prominent of his accusers was three times convicted for libel.
On 15 July 1946, Leone married Vittoria Micchitto (born 15 July 1927) and had four sons, Mauro, Paolo, Giancarlo and Giulio (died at the age of 4).
Just a few weeks before his 93rd birthday, following a Decree by the President of the Council of Ministers of 25 September 2001, Giovanni Leone was awarded the title of Emeritus President of the Republic, the dignity of honorary Order of Protocol and since then ex lege to all former heads of State in life.
He died in Rome, on 9 November 2001, at his villa in "The Wrinkles" on the Via Cassia.
On 25 November 2006 the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano said that, eight years earlier, the Senate had granted full recognition of the correctness of his actions.