Giovanni Giolitti, the son of a magistrate, was born in Mondovi, Italy, in 1842. Trained as a lawyer he had socialist political sympathies as a young man. After working as a civil servant in 1882 he became a member of parliament as a Liberal. Giolitti soon established himself as an expert on economics and he became finance minister in the government.
Giolitti first became prime minister in 1892. He lost power after 18 months but he returned in 1903 and for the next few years dominated Italian politics. All told, he was prime minister for over eleven years. During this time he introduced universal suffrage and a series of other social reforms. In foreign affairs Giolitti favoured friendship with Austria and tried hard to keep Italy out of an European war.
Giolitti resigned in March 1914 and was replaced by Antonio Salandra. Despite Giolitt's opposition to Italian involvement in the First World War was unable to influence the government decision to join the Allies in 1915. Giolitti retired from politics after his final ministry (June 1920-June 1921). Giovanni Giolitti died in 1928.