Maria Elisabetta Alberti, married Casellati (born in Rovigo, 12 August 1946), is an Italian politician and the current President of the Italian Senate. She is the first Italian woman to have ever held this position. Casellati is a long-time member of the liberal-conservative party, Forza Italia, and served as an undersecretary of Health and Justice in previous governments. She is also known with the acronym MEAC.
|President of the Senate of the Republic|
Assumed office |
24 March 2018
|Preceded by||Pietro Grasso|
|Member of the Senate of the Republic|
Assumed office |
23 May 2018
30 May 2001 – 15 September 2014
15 April 1994 – 8 May 1996
12 August 1946|
Forza Italia (1994–2009)|
People of Freedom (2009–2013)
Forza Italia (2013–present)
University of Ferrara|
Pontifical Lateran University
Maria Elisabetta Alberti was born in Rovigo in 1946, to a noble family. Her father was a partisan during World War II. She graduated from the University of Ferrara with a degree in law and specialised in Canon law at the Pontifical Lateran University.
Previously a member of the Italian Liberal Party, she joined Forza Italia (F.I.), the liberal-conservative party founded by Silvio Berlusconi. She held many important positions inside the party's organisation. In March 1994, she was elected to the Italian Senate in the general election, for the single-member constituency of Cittadella, near Padua. During the 12th Legislature, Casellati served as a secretary of F.I.'s parliamentary group in the Senate and also as a president of the Health Commission.
Casellati was not re-elected in 1996 snap election and was defeated by the Lega Nord candidate by just a few votes. From 1999 to 2000, she served as provincial commissioner of Forza Italia for Rovigo. Following the 2001 general election, Casellati returned to the Senate for the constituency of Padua. During the 14th Legislature, she served as vice-leader of Forza Italia in the Senate. On 30 December 2004, Casellati was appointed undersecretary to Health in Berlusconi's second cabinet. She also held this office in Berlusconi's third cabinet, until 16 May 2006.
She was re-elected again in the 2006 general election, which saw a narrow victory for the centre-left party of Romano Prodi; Casellati was confirmed vice-leader of her party in the Senate. The 2008 election featured a strong showing by Berlusconi's new party The People of Freedom and his centre-right coalition; Casellati was re-elected in the Senate and served as undersecretary for Justice from 12 May 2008 to 16 November 2011, when the conservative Prime Minister was forced to resign amid financial crisis and public protests.
In the 2013 general election, Casellati was elected to the multi-member constituency of Veneto. However, on 15 September 2014 she was elected by the Parliament in joint session to the High Council of the Judiciary (CSM), where she remained as a member until returning to the Senate in 2018 with the revived Forza Italia. At the CSM she served as president of the Third Commission for access to the judiciary and for mobility from October 2016 until her resignation.
On 24 March 2018 she was elected President of the Senate, becoming the first woman to hold this position. She was supported by her own party, the League, Brothers of Italy and the Five Star Movement.
On 18 April 2018 she was given an exploratory mandate by President Sergio Mattarella to try and reconcile the issues between the centre-right coalition and the Five Star Movement (M5S), in order to break the post-election political deadlock and form a fully functional new government. However, she failed in finding a solution to the disputes between the parties, especially between the M5S and Forza Italia.
Casellati has described herself as a conservative and a Catholic; she has often stressed her strong opposition to artificial insemination and has signed a bill to abolish law 194 on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, describing abortion as "a very serious mistake, which flirts with the culture of death." She is also in favour of the reopening of brothels and the subsequent abolition of the Merlin law.
Casellati strongly opposed the Cirinnà law, promoted by the centre-left government of Matteo Renzi, which recognized same-sex unions in Italy, stating that "family is not an extensible concept and the State cannot equate marriage and civil unions." She also added "any parity between marriages and civil unions would be a blurring of non-overlapping models." Following the approval of the law, on 13 May 2016, she gave an interview stating that she believed that the Cirinnà law discriminated against heterosexual couples.
She supports the chemical castration for those guilty of sexual violence or pedophilia, asserting in 2008 that "chemical castration is a path to follow as it is not a violent imposition on those who have committed aberrant offenses, but the administration of a drug that lowers sexual impulses." Moreover, she is a strong supporter of the Bossi-Fini law, now abolished, which introduced criminal sentences for those illegally entering Italy; she declared that "only those who have the opportunity to live and keep themselves in dignity can come to Italy."
On 15 March 15, 2013, she presented a law for the abolition of the IMU, the real estate tax promoted by Mario Monti's technocratic government in 2011. She is a strong supporter of the flat tax and when she became president of the Senate, she stated that the priority for Italy was a tax reform to support families and businesses.
| President of the Senate of the Republic
|Order of precedence|
as President of the Republic
| Order of precedence of Italy
as President of the Senate
as President of the Chamber of Deputies