Graduated in Political Science, was elected City Councilor in Turin in 1975 and Provincial Councilor in 1980.
MP since 1994, has served as UnderSecretary for Foreign Affairs in the Prodi government, Minister of Foreign Trade in the D’Alema government and Minister of Justice in the Amato government.
From 2001 to 2007 he was national secretary of the Democratici di Sinistra.
In 2007 he was appointed Special Envoy of the European Union to Burma
He was elected Mayor of Turin on 16 May 2011.