(born May 19, 1860, Palermo, Italy—died Dec. 1, 1952, Rome) Italian politician and prime minister (1917–19). He was elected to Italy's Chamber of Deputies in 1897 and served in cabinet positions from 1903. As prime minister, he led Italy's delegation to the Paris Peace Conference, but he was unable to obtain concessions from the Allies for Italian-claimed territory and resigned. As president of the Chamber of Deputies (1919–25), he resigned in protest against the electoral fraud of Benito Mussolini's Fascist Party. He was president of the postwar Constituent Assembly (1946–47).
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In 1897 he was elected in the Italian Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati) for the district of Partinico for which he was constantly reelected until 1925. He aligned himself with Giovanni Giolitti, who was Prime Minister of Italy five times between 1892 and 1921.
Aside from his prominent political role Orlando is also known for his writings, over a hundred works, on legal and judicial issues; Orlando was himself a professor of law.
The Italians later won the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in November 1918, a feat that coincided with the collapse of Austro-Hungarian Army and the end on the First World War on the Italian Front, as well as the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The fact that Italy recovered and ended up on the winning side in 1918 earned for Orlando the title "Premier of Victory."
Although, as prime minister, he was the head of the Italian delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, Orlando's inability to speak English and his weak political position at home allowed the conservative foreign minister, the half-Welsh Sidney Sonnino, to play a dominant role.
Their differences proved to be disastrous during the negotiations. Orlando was prepared to renounce territorial claims for Dalmatia to annex Rijeka (or Fiume as the Italians called the town) - the principal seaport on the Adriatic Sea - while Sonnino was not prepared to give up Dalmatia. Italy ended up claiming both and got none, running up against U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's policy of national self-determination.
Orlando dramatically left the conference early in April 1919, returning only to reluctantly sign the resultant Treaty of Versailles the following month. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau dubbed him "The Weeper," and Orlando himself recalled proudly: "When ... I knew they would not give us what we were entitled to ... I writhed on the floor. I knocked my head against the wall. I cried. I wanted to die."
His political position was seriously undermined by his failure to secure Italian interests at the Paris Peace Conference. Orlando resigned on 23 June 1919, following his inability to acquire Fiume for Italy in the peace settlement. In December 1919 he was elected president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, but never again served as prime minister.
In 1944, he made something of a political comeback. With the fall of Mussolini, Orlando became leader of the Conservative Democratic Union. He was elected speaker of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, where he served until 1946. In 1946, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly of Italy. In 1948 he was nominated senator for life, and was a candidate for the presidency of the republic (elected by Parliament) but was defeated by Luigi Einaudi. He died in 1952 in Rome.
In 1925, Orlando stated in the Italian senate that he was proud of being mafioso:
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