Depretis, Agostino

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Agostino Depretis (ägōstē´nō dāprĕ´tēs), 1813–87, Italian premier. An early supporter of the revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini, he entered the Sardinian parliament after 1848 and was a leader of the opposition to Camillo Benso di Cavour. He soon became a supporter of monarchism, however, and held several cabinet posts after the foundation (1861) of the Italian kingdom. As leader of the moderate left in parliament, he was premier three times (1876–78, 1878–79, 1881–87). He maintained himself in power by heading coalitions of the moderate elements, a policy he called transformisimo. For many, however, Depretis was an uninspired, opportunistic leader who governed by avoiding problems rather than resolving them and by sometimes corrupt political manipulation. To an important degree, the disillusionment with politics among the elite and the cynicism and antiparliamentarianism that characterized later decades in Italy originated during Depretis's period of ascendancy.