Former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano is dead. The former head of state died on Friday evening at the age of 98 in a hospital in Rome, the government confirmed in an official statement. The former communist was head of state for more than eight and a half years between 2006 and 2015 – longer than anyone else.
Giorgio Napolitano also enjoyed a high international reputation
Napolitano was the first president to be re-elected in post-war Italian history. He also enjoyed a high reputation internationally. Due to his old age, he resigned early in January 2015. He spent the last few years in seclusion.
Napolitano was born in 1925 in the southern Italian city of Naples, which he represented as a member of parliament for ten terms. The lawyer became a member of the Communist Party (PCI) at a young age, where he made it to the Politburo. For many years the PCI was considered the most important communist party in Western Europe. Napolitano was considered part of the reform wing there.
In 2006, Napolitano became the first ex-communist to be elected president
Even before the fall of the Wall in 1989, he spoke out in favor of renaming the party, which then became the left-wing party PDS. In the 1990s, Napolitano was president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and then interior minister in a center-left government. In the meantime he also sat in the European Parliament. For his services he was awarded the title of senator for life.
In 2006, Napolitano became the first ex-communist to be elected president. Contrary to original plans, he took up a second term in office after being re-elected in 2013 after efforts to find a successor failed several times. For reasons of age, he announced his early retirement at the turn of the year 2014/15. With more than 3,000 days, he still holds the record for the longest term of office for an Italian president. Sergio Mattarella, who remains head of state today, was elected as his successor.
Napolitano was seen as a moral corrective to the populist Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
During his time as president, Napolitano enjoyed high authority across party lines. He was often seen as a moral corrective to the populist Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who had to resign in 2011. At that time, Napolitano paved the way for a government of experts. He was also considered an impartial and reliable conversation partner internationally.