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David Sassoli, the Italian Journalist Who Worked His Way Up in Politics

INTERNATIONAL: The 65-year-old Italian had been seriously ill in hospital for more than two weeks due to a dysfunction of his immune system.

“David Sassoli passed away at 1.15am on 11 January at the CRO in Aviano, Italy, where he was hospitalized,” his spokesman Roberto Cuillo has tweeted. “The date and place of the funeral will be announced in the next few hours.”

The former television newsreader had been in hospital since 26 December due to “a serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system.” Sassoli was previously admitted with pneumonia for several weeks in September last year.

After a three-decade career as an Italian journalist, starting out in newspapers then moving to television and becoming a nationally known anchor, Florence-born Sassoli became a member of the European Parliament in 2009, and speaker in 2019.

He was a member of the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the second-biggest grouping in the parliament after the centre-right European People’s party.

Although his role was that of 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 in public appearances, Sassoli had made a point of using Italian.

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

David Sassoli was born in Florence on May 30, 1956.

He started working as a journalist at small newspapers and news agencies, before moving to the editorial office of Il Giorno in Rome, where he worked for seven years. In 1992, he began working as a television news reporter and correspondent for TG3.

Subsequently he worked on news programmes on Rai Uno and Rai Due, before joining the editorial staff of TG1 in 1999 as a special correspondent. Over the next 10 years, he was responsible for managing prime time news broadcasts, and covering major national and international events. In 2007, he became Deputy Director of TG1 and responsible for in-depth programmes TV7 and TG1 Special.

Since a young age, he was involved in educational associations, such as the Scouts and Catholic youth movements.

When the Partito Democratico (PD) was formed in 2007, he considered it the right place for his political commitment. On 7 June 2009, he was elected to the European Parliament as a member for central Italy. In the 2009-2014 legislature, he was head of delegation of the Partito Democratico in the European Parliament.

In 2014, he was re-elected as an MEP and was elected Vice-President of the European Parliament, with responsibility for Mediterranean Policy, the budget, and buildings. He was a member of the Committee for Transport and Tourism, and led on European railway reform (4th Railway Package), and the Single European Sky.

In May 2019, he began his third term as an MEP for central Italy and on 3 July, he was elected President of the European Parliament.

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