The secretary of the Democratic Party Enrico Letta said it bluntly in a meeting with the big dem voters: «My ideal profile is Andrea Riccardi. For what it represents, for what it does, for institutional experience. He is the only Italian who has obtained the Charlemagne Prize, the highest European recognition ». Then he specified that “he is not the flag candidate”. Riccardi, however, also likes the Five Star Movement so much that the leader Giuseppe Conte said he “has the right characteristics” to be Sergio Mattarella’s successor. Even if the center-left’s strategy could be to vote blank in the first three votes and then converge on a name starting from the fourth. A veto on the name of the founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio comes instead from the leader of Italia Viva, Matteo Renzi. But who is Andrea Riccardi? And why suddenly the center-left – after weeks of silence at the mercy of Silvio Berlusconi’s candidacy – wants him at the Quirinale as the thirteenth president of the Republic?
Born in Rome in 1950, Riccardi has a legal background, with a degree in law and a thesis on the relationship between State and Church. From an early age he taught as full professor both at the University of Bari – where he was a professor of Contemporary History – and at Sapienza and at the Third University of Rome. Over the years he has been awarded an honorary degree by the Catholic University of Louvain, by the Cardinal Herrera University – CEU of Valencia, by the Georgetown University in Washington, by the University of Augsburg, by the Jean Moulin Lyon University 3 here with the motivation: «Thanks to distinguished services to peace and to the University».
The foundation of the Community of Sant’Egidio
In 1968 Riccardi founded the Community of Sant’Egidio, committed to social issues and is known for its work in favor of peace and dialogue. In 2003 the magazine “Time” included him in the list of thirty-six “modern heroes” of Europe, distinguished by his professional courage and humanitarian commitment. His philosophy is “to convince people that peace is the best situation for them and that war is madness.”
The Charlemagne Prize, to which Letta refers and which is given to people and institutions that have distinguished themselves in promoting a united Europe and spreading a culture of peace and dialogue, arrives on May 21, 2009: “To honor an example extraordinary civil commitment in favor of a more humane and supportive Europe inside and outside its borders ”, states the motivation.
Political engagement in technical government
Considered a leading exponent of left-wing Catholicism, always a step alongside politics, without ever being actively part of it, Riccardi will be involved in the experience of Mario Monti’s technical government: from November 16, 2011 to April 27, 2013 he will hold the office of minister for International Cooperation and Integration and will have delegated powers to the family and equal opportunities. Since 2015 he is also president of the Dante Alighieri Society which protects and spreads the Italian language and culture around the world.