David Sassoli: European Parliament president dead at 65 - who was he, career explained, and where is Aviano?

Sassoli had been ill for some time, and leaves behind a remarkable career in both European politics and journalism

<p>European Parliament President David Sassoli during a press conference in December 2021 (Photo: BERTRAND GUAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)</p>

European Parliament President David Sassoli during a press conference in December 2021 (Photo: BERTRAND GUAY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

European Parliament President David Sassoli has died aged 65 in Italy.

The Italian politician and journalist had served as the president of the European Parliament from July 2019.

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In September 2021, Sassoli was hospitalised in Strasbourg with a severe case of pneumonia, and he was unable to carry out his duties for more than two months.

In December he was taken into hospital again, this time because of a "serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system".

Sassoli died on 11 January 2022, in Aviano in northern Italy.

Here is everything you need to know about him.

Who was David Sassoli?

Sassoli was born in Florence in 1956.

He studied at the department of political science at the University of Rome, and began his career as a journalist at the newspaper Il Tempo in Rome.

In 1985, he moved to the Roman editorial office of the daily newspaper Il Giorno, where he followed the major political and news events of the next seven years, including the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

In the 90s he became a TV news reporter, and rose up the ranks to become the anchorman of one of Italy’s most trusted news programmes,becoming one of the most notable and popular journalists in the country.

Political career

In 2009, Sassoli left journalism to enter politics, becoming a member of Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and running in the 2009 European Parliament (EP) election, for the Central Italy district.

He was elected member of the EP with nearly half a million votes, making him the most voted for candidate in his constituency.

In 2012, Sassoli entered the race to become the Mayor of Rome, but ended up in second place with 28% of the vote.

Sassoli was re-elected to the European Parliament in 2014, and was elected Vice-President of the European Parliament in the same year.

In 2019 he was proposed by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) as the new president of the European Parliament, and the following day was elected president by the assembly.

His first public act as newly elected president, Sassoli paid tribute to all the victims of terrorism in Europe, attending one of the sites of the 2016 Brussels bombings to commemorate the victims.

He was among the potential candidates of the Democratic Party to succeed Sergio Mattarella in the 2022 Italian presidential election.

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