He entered politics in 1948 when Italy became a republic. He represented Turin for 44 years until his election as President in 1992. Two days after his election, a mafia bomb killed magistrate Giovanni Falcone, his wife and bodyguards. This set the scene for his presidency which presided over some of the most turbulent episodes in Italian political history spanning the transition between the First Republic and the Second Republic.
Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 2009 - Photo: Marco Leone
After his 7 year tenure he became a lifetime member of the Senate. Later, following the 2006 general election, he took over the temporary presidency of the chamber of Deputies and became one of only three politicians in Italian history to have held all three highest offices in the Republic: President of the Republic, President of the Senate, and President of the Chamber of Deputies. The other two are Sandro Pertini and Enrico De Nicola.
Although a lifetime Christian Democrat, he opposed the policies of Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and supported the centre-left coalitions that won elections in 1996 and 2006.
He married in 1943, but a year later his wife died in childbirth at the age of 20. Scalfaro vowed to never marry again, instead devoting himself to the upbringing of his daughter, Marianna. She too never married, and remained by his side until his death on 29th January 2012.
Giorgio Napolitano, the current President of the Republic said of him "He was a protagonist of democratic political life over the decades of republican Italy, a paragon of ideal coherence and moral integrity..."