EU Parliament President David Sassoli dead at age 65: A big supporter of European Tourism

David Maria Sassoli was an Italian politician and journalist who served as the president of the European Parliament from 3 July 2019 until his death on 11 January 2022. Sassoli was first elected as a member of the European Parliament in 2009.

 The 65-year-old Italian had been seriously ill for more than two weeks due to a dysfunction of the immune system. David Sassoli passed away at 1.15 am on 11 January at the CRO in Aviano, Italy, where he was hospitalized.

David Maria Sassoli was also a journalist, a member of the Democratic Party.  During the 1970s, he graduated in political science at the University of Florence.

In 2009, Sassoli left his journalistic career to enter politics, becoming a member of the center-left Democratic Party (PD) and running in the 2009 European Parliament election, for the Central Italy district.

On 7 June, he was elected member of the EP with 412,502 personal preferences, becoming the most-voted candidate in his constituency. From 2009 to 2014, he served as PD’s delegation leader in the Parliament.

On 9 October 2012, Sassoli announced his candidacy in the primaries for the center-left’s candidate as the new mayor of Rome in the 2013 municipal election. He ended up in a second-place with 28% of votes, behind Senator Ignazio Marino, who got 55%, and ahead of former Minister of Communications Paolo Gentiloni. Marino would be later elected mayor, defeating the right-wing incumbent, Gianni Alemanno.

In the European Parliament election of 2014, Sassoli was re-elected to the European Parliament, with 206,170 preferences. The election was characterized by a strong showing of his Democratic Party, which gained 41% of votes. On 1 July 2014 Sassoli was elected Vice-President of the European Parliament with 393 votes, making him the second most voted Socialist candidate. In addition to his committee assignments, he is a member of the European Parliament Intergroup on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

As a member of the European Parliament since 2009, he was elected its president on 3 July 2019. In the 2019 European Parliament election in Italy, Sassoli was re-elected to the European Parliament, with 128,533 votes. On 2 July 2019, he was proposed by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) as the new President of the European Parliament. On the following day, Sassoli was elected President by the assembly with 345 votes in favor, succeeding Antonio Tajani. He is the seventh Italian to hold the office.

Although his role was that of the speaker, he had the title of president of the European legislature. His arrival in the chamber was traditionally announced in Italian as “Il Presidente”.

Unlike some EU officials, who speak in English and French during public appearances, Sassoli made a point of using Italian.

On Tuesday next week, MEPs are expected to hold the first round of voting for their successor.

Maltese politician Roberta Metsola, from the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), is widely expected to be a candidate for the post.

European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen, who heads the European Union’s executive body, paid tribute to Sassoli, and said she was deeply saddened by his death.

“David Sassoli was a compassionate journalist, an outstanding President of the European Parliament and, first & foremost, a dear friend,” she said on Twitter.

Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg sent his condolences.

“Saddened to hear of the death of EP President David Sassoli, a strong voice for democracy and NATO-EU cooperation,” he said in a tweet.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili tweeted: “I am saddened by the untimely passing of the EU President David Sassoli. His humanity, political acumen, and European values will be his legacy to the world. I am grateful for his support for in the European Parliament.

Italian politicians on many sides paid tribute to Sassoli, and his death dominated morning news shows. Prime Minister Mario Draghi said his passing was shocking and praised him as profoundly pro-European.

“Sassoli was a symbol of balance, humanity and generosity. These qualities have always been recognised by all his colleagues, from every political position and every European country,” Mr Draghi’s office said.

Former prime minister Enrico Letta, who heads the Democratic Party, called Sassoli “a person of extraordinary generosity, a passionate European … a man of vision and principles”.

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