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Giulio Ercolessi was born in Trieste, NE Italy, in 1953. He started his public life as a student, in the years around 1968, upon a political agenda very critical of the Italian ’68 movement, of its myth of assembly democracy, of its ideological subordination to the communist sub-culture, and, at the same time, of the opposed hierarchical, traditionalist, clerical and neofascist calls to order. Since 1969 he was active in the youth movements of the Italian Liberal Party and of the European Federalist Movement. Through the left-wing faction of the Liberals, the Divorce Law League and the League for the Abrogation of the Concordat, he came into contact with the Radical Party, that he joined in 1971. A member of the Radical Party from 1971 to 1980 (with just a short break within), he was from the start one of its national leaders, holding various party positions; in particular, he served as secretary general of the party in the year 1973-74, at the time of the divorce law referendum (at age twenty, in a party where the average age of members at the time was twenty-two: under age, according to the law still in force in Italy at the time and criticized by the Radical Party, during his first two months in office). As a leader of the internal opposition in the following years, he criticised the party leadership for not trying to give a stable structure and cultural continuity to the policies of the Radical Party, that he thought could have become the party of progressive liberalism in Italy, and for preferring to keep it in the state of a movement centred on the inconstant priorities each time chosen by its charismatic leader. Nevertheless, he supported attempts aimed at reassembling liberals, radicals, social democrats and supporters of state/religion separation in the Italian political system, and dissented from the erratic convergences that occurred along the Seventies between the Radical Party leadership and unconventional milieus of the post-68 neo-communist Left. Later he also disagreed with the restructuring of the party that led to its total engagement in a struggle against famine in the world, that in the intention of the party leadership should have been led in alliance with the Roman Catholic Church and its pontiff, thus inevitably ruling out any initiative on individual liberties related to secularism (including any proposal for non authoritarian birth control policies), for about twenty years. At the time of the controversies over the Osimo treaty between Italy and former Yugoslavia and of the consequent electoral revolt in Trieste (he shared, and gave voice to, its environmentalist, socio-economical and democratic side, while opposing the nationalistic one) he also served for three years as Radical Party city councillor in Trieste. In the years of his direct political commitment, his political interventions, essays and articles appeared occasionally, besides the Radical Party organ “Notizie radicali”, in the journals “La prova radicale”, “Argomenti radicali” and “Quaderni radicali” and in the Trieste daily paper “Il Piccolo”, and also in the national papers “Il Mondo”, “Il Manifesto”, “Pace e guerra”, “Contatto”.
He abandoned active politics in 1982. He made this decision because he had become convinced of the irreversible nature, at least in the short run, of the changes that had occurred to the Radical Party and aware of becoming more and more stranger to the political cultures prevailing in the Italian society; and also as a consequence of his growing lack of confidence in the intellectual competence and ethical reliability of most of the Italian media professionals in their necessary function of mediators between politics and public opinion; and furthermore because he had grown conscious of his incapability of happily adapting to the structural evolution that had turned professional politics into showbiz.
Since then, his texts, essays, articles and law bills have usually been appearing under a pen name (or sometimes liberally given to other individuals), unless they implied further personal participations in public debates. In this way he kept on dealing with individual rights, state/religion related issues, liberal theory, European federalist integration, Italian and Western political culture and identity issues, the political use of history in the frontier areas of NE Italy, healthcare reform; he took part in the civic opposition movement to the populist, anti-liberal, sleazy, clerical, xenophobic, homophobic and anti-European surge of the last twentyfive years of Italian public life. Between 1999 and 2013 he resumed a regular contribution to the review “Critica liberale”, a contribution dating back to 1969, when “Critica liberale” was the press agency of the faction of the same name within the Liberal Party. Already edited at the time by Enzo Marzo, the review had later become the voice of the independent liberal think-tank the Critica liberale foundation of which, inter alia, Giulio Ercolessi co-edited “Gli Stati Uniti d’Europa” (“The United States of Europe”), the European federalist supplement to the foundation monthly journal, together with Francesco Gui and Beatrice Rangoni Machiavelli. He was one of the initiators of italialaica.it and Società Pannunzio per la libertà d’informazione (Pannunzio Society for Freedom of Information), and also contributed to the monthly reviews “MicroMega” and “Confronti”, to the Italian edition of “Lettre International” and, as international affairs commentator, to the Genoa daily paper “Il Secolo XIX”.
In March 2009 he wrote the book “L’Europa verso il suicidio? Senza Unione federale il destino degli europei è segnato” (“Europe towards Suicide? Without a Federal Union the Fate of Europeans is Inescapable”), published by Dedalo.
In April 2015 he wrote the book “Sfascismo costituzionale. Come uscire vivi da un azzardo politico temerario. Una proposta liberale”, with a foreword by the ALDE-party president Sir Graham Watson, and in the appendix the Italian translation of the lecture “What is Liberalism”, published by Aracne. (The title of this book consists in a pun that is not translatable: “Smashing the constitution. How to get out alive from a reckless political gamble. A liberal proposal”).
In September 2012 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the European Liberal Forum (ELF), the non-profit organisation reassembling the think-tanks and foundations connected to the party of European Liberals (i.e. the ALDE party, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, formerly ELDR). He was re-elected for the second two-year term allowed by the ELF bylaws in September 2014.
In May 2013 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the European Humanist Federation (EHF), the largest umbrella organisation of European humanist and secularist associations, advocating equal treatment for non believers, separation between religion and public institutions, and was the main of the “non-confessional philosophical” organizations taking part in the “interconvictional dialogue” provided for by art. 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In May 2016 he was elected vice-president of the EHF and was its president from May 2017 to May 2020.
In July 2013 he took part in the foundation of LibMov, a think-tank that was aimed at helping reunite the Italian liberals linked to the ALDE party, and became its director and member of its Executive Committee.
In his private life Giulio Ercolessi is member of the boards of directors of the joint stock companies Policlinico San Marco S.p.A., COF Lanzo Hospital S.p.A. and Campolongo Hospital S.p.A., that manage private hospitals affiliated with the public healthcare service in Mestre (Venice), Lanzo d’Intelvi (Como) and Marina di Eboli (Salerno) respectively.
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