Celebrated Jews : Luigi Luzzatti
Mark Katz - July 12, 2009
Luigi Luzzatti was the first Jewish Prime Minister of Italy. There was an earlier Prime Minister, Sidney Sonnino, who had a Jewish father that later converted to Anglicanism, but Luzzatti is widely recognized as the first full and practicing Jew to serve in the Italian Prime Ministerís office. Luigi Luzzatti was born in Venice to Jewish parents in 1841. He studied at the University of Padua in northern Italy and completed a law degree there. In 1863 he was appointed as a professor at the Milan Technical Institute and after a term as professor of constitutional law at Padua he transferred to the University of Rome.
Luzzatti became well known as a gifted public speaker and lecturer on political economy and constitutional law. He promoted new and modern economic thinking and helped develop a commercial college in Venice. He was also a strong advocate for the establishment of peopleís banks throughout the country and in 1869 was asked by Prime Minister Marco Minghetti to join his government as under secretary of state to the ministry of agriculture and commerce. Soon after this he entered the Italian Parliament as a deputy from Oderzo and was later elected as the representative from Padua, a seat that he held without interruption for more than thirty years.
In the Italian cabinet he continued to press for economic reforms and a loosening of government restrictions on the private marketplace. He abolished much of the existing government control over commercial enterprises and launched a state inquiry into the conditions affecting industry in Italy. Even though he fervently believed in a free market he was nonetheless the chief architect of the Italian regulatory system.
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