Enrico De Nicola (Naples, November 9, 1877 - Torre del Greco, Naples, October 1, 1959) was an Italian jurist, journalist, politician, and the first provisory Head of State of the newborn republic in 1946-1948.
De Nicola became famous as one of the most esteemed penal lawyers, was elected a deputy for the first time in 1909 and he covered minor governmental charges until the advent of Fascism, when he retired from political life; he was named by the King a senator of the kingdom in 1926, but he never took part in the Assembly's works.
The Constituent Assembly elected him Provisory Head of State on June 28, 1946, with the 80% of the votes, at the first scrutiny. Giulio Andreotti would have later remembered that De Nicola - mainly for the unique modesty of the man - was not sure to accept his nomination, and his mind frequently changed its orientation during the endless insistence by all the major political leaders. Andreotti had then to write him: "Your Excellence, please, decide to decide if you can accept to accept..."
On June 25, 1947, De Nicola resigned from the charge, officially for health troubles, but the Constituent Assembly immediately re-elected him again the following day, having recognised in his act the sign of a noble humble consideration of himself. The value of the man was indeed so great that still now he is considered as perhaps the most serious Italian politician of the century.
After the Italian Constitution took effect, he was formally named the "President of the State" on January 1, 1948. He finally refused to be a candidate for the first constitutional election of the following May, in which Luigi Einaudi was elected to the Quirinale.
De Nicola became a senator for life (as a former Head of State), and later was elected the President of the Senate, and of the Constitutional Court.
His lifestyle was as honest as extremely severe, and in times of general economical crisis, he raised poverty, but always in memorable dignity. De Nicola remains in the Italian history as one of the sharpest figures ever.