Pietro Bertolini - Encyclopedia

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"PIETRO BERTOLINI (1853-1920), Italian statesman, was born at Montebelluna in 1853. He began his career as a barrister and student of economic and administrative questions, and entered parliament in 1891 as member for his native town. Two years later he became Under-Secretary for Finance in the Crispi Cabinet. He was afterwards Under-Secretary at the Ministry of the Interior in the Pelloux Cabinet (1898-1900), in which he was, so to speak, the representative of Baron Sonnino's party. On the fall of Gen. Pelloux he hoped to return to office in a future Sonnino ministry; but as the latter seemed ever less likely to become a reality, Bertolini lost patience and joined Sig. Giolitti. His conduct in abandoning his old chief was much criticised at the time, but his new patron chose him as Minister of Public Works in the Cabinet of 1907. He proved a capable administrator, but his qualities were taxed to the utmost by the terrible earthquake at Messina and Reggio in 1908. When Giolitti returned to power in 1911 he did not at first offer an appointment to Bertolini, but in the autumn of 1912 he entrusted him with the newly constituted Ministry of the Colonies. He failed, however, to show any exceptional qualifications for that position, and did little more than introduce some of the less desirable features of the Italian bureaucratic system into the new African possessions; the continued resistance of the Arabs in Libya was generally regarded as largely due to Bertolini's administrative errors. He was rapporteur for the extended suffrage bill, which first came into force with the general elections of 1913; the measure had been introduced to please the demagogic spirit which Giolitti wished to conciliate, but Bertolini must be given credit for the ingeniousness of the machinery which he devised for enabling illiterates to vote and for avoiding electoral corruption as far as possible. On the outbreak of the World War Bertolini, as a faithful Giolittian, was an uncompromising neutralist, and came in for much obloquy in consequence. Throughout the war he remained in retirement, and failed to be reelected in 1919. Sig. Nitti appointed him senator and president of the Italian delegation on the Reparations Commission. He was the author of several valuable works on political and eonomic questions, notably a volume on local government in England. He died at Turin, Nov. 28 1920.

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