The fame of this outstanding personality, whom the Florentines already called the “holy mayor”, very soon spread even outside Italy. But La Pira’s activities also brought him attacks of every sort and kind. He was accused of playing the game of the Communists: the Florence newspaper La Nazione attacked him daily, calling him the “little Commie of the Sacristy”, while barbed accusations came also from Catholic quarters. Of great importance is his “self defence” in a letter to Pius XII. In the Florence municipal elections of 1956, though strongly opposed by the powers that be, La Pira had enormous popular support (nearly 34.000 preference votes). But a new electoral law made his majority unstable, and though elected mayor he had to give place a year later to a prefectorial administrator.
In the 1960 municipal elections he once again gained the most votes and went on to lead his third administration (1961-1965), supported by a DC-PSDI-PSI coalition. His programme was centred upon the building of 17 new schools, the repair of the water system, the launching of a new town-planning scheme and the Maggio Musicale. At the same time he was in close touch with the period of Vatican Council II and with current hopes of the easing of international tensions.
In the following elections he once more obtained a great success, but the political climate had by now deteriorated. In a telegram to the Secretary of the DC, Mariano Rumor, and the Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, La Pira denounced the plots by means of which the secretariats of the various parties and the political “salons” were attempting to put an end to his unique career as mayor.
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