Former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano dies aged 98

The two-time former president Giorgio Napolitano, one of Italy's most respected political figures, has died in a Rome clinic aged 98, sources said, News.Az reports citing ANSA. 

His condition had been critical for some time.

Born in Naples on June 29, 1925, Napolitano served as the 11th president of the Italian Republic from 2006 to 2015, and was the first head of state to be elected for a second mandate in 2013, as well as being the country's first post-Communist president.

A former militant in and then leader of the reformist wing of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) until the establishment of the Democratic Party of the Left (PDS) in 1991, as interior minister in the 1996-1998 centre-left government of Romano Prodi he gave his name to Italy's first comprehensive immigration law, the so-called 'Turco-Napolitano', in 1998.

A law graduate from the University of Naples in 1947, Napolitano was first elected to the Lower House in 1953 and went on to represent his native Naples constituency almost without interruption until 1996.

His long political career also took him to Strasbourg as a member of the European Parliament from 1989 to 1992, before his election as Speaker of Italy's Lower House from 1992 until 1994.

His dominance of the political scene in Italy - and especially a key role in birthing the emergency Mario Monti-led government amid a sovereign debt crisis in 2011 - earned him the nickname King George. In 2005 Napolitano was appointed life Senator by then President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, his predecessor as head of state and guarantor of Italy's post-war antifascist constitution.

A life-long Anglophile, Napolitano spoke fluent English and lectured at several American universities in the late 1970s.


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