Having suffered from leukemia in the past, David Sassoli had already been hospitalized this fall for pneumonia which had kept him away from Parliament for several weeks. According to his spokesperson, the President of the European Parliament, the Italian Social Democrat, died on the night of Monday to Tuesday in Italy, at the age of 65.
Former journalist in Italy
“David Sassoli died on January 11 at 1:15 am at the CRO (oncology reference center) in Aviano, Italy, where he had been hospitalized” since the end of December, announced on Twitter Roberto Cuillo, David’s spokesperson. Sassoli. “The date and place of the funeral will be communicated in the coming hours,” he added.
Monday afternoon, his spokesperson had announced the hospitalization of David Sassoli “due to a serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system” and the cancellation of his official activities of the elected to the head of the Strasbourg Assembly since 2019.
A star journalist-presenter of television news in Italy before turning to politics, David Sassoli’s term ended this month, at the halfway point of the five-year legislature. The election for his succession, to which it had been a question for a time that he would represent himself, is scheduled for January 18.
“A sad day for Europe”
After the announcement of his death, tributes have multiplied. “Today is a sad day for Europe. Our Union is losing a passionate European, a sincere democrat and a good man ”, declared the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in a video speech, in Italian and English.
“We already miss his human warmth, his generosity, his friendliness and his smile”, underlined the President of the European Council Charles Michel. Out of solidarity in the midst of a pandemic, David Sassoli had made an impression by making the deserted premises of Parliament available for the preparation of meals for people in need, the installation of a screening center or to serve as a refuge for women isolated.
Flags were at half mast on Tuesday in front of the buildings of European institutions and a minute of silence was scheduled for the beginning of the afternoon in front of the European Parliament in Brussels. The heads of state of member countries also thanked the deceased. The head of the Italian government Mario Draghi hailed “a symbol of balance, humanity and generosity”, his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte evoking “a hard worker in the service of Europe and fervent defender of its values and principles”.
Discreet but firm in his debates in the hemicycle both in Strasbourg and Brussels, David Sassoli had received the “unanimous support” of his political group in November to run for a second term, but he had finally announced in mid-December to have decided not to run again.