Italy: “King Giorgio” Napolitano is dead

Former President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano died this Friday, September 22, in Rome at the age of 98

Italy: “King Giorgio” Napolitano is dead

Former President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano died this Friday, September 22, in Rome at the age of 98. A true figure of political and institutional life who marked both the First and Second Transalpine Republic.

Due to his state of health and his advanced age, his public appearances had become extremely rare. His seat as senator for life had been deserted since June. The elected officials of the Palazzo Madama then paid him a vibrant tribute, fueled by applause, to celebrate the birthday of “King Giorgio” and his 70 years of parliamentary life. “The witness of a policy which becomes culture and a political culture which becomes an institution”, greeted the head of the Senate, Ignazio La Russa (Brothers of Italy).

Born in 1925 into a bourgeois family in Naples, during the early hours of Benito Mussolini's Ventennio, Giorgio Napolitano, like many students, joined the GUF, the fascist university groups, before joining the resistance against the dictatorial regime. In 1945, he joined the Italian Communist Party (PCI) of which he would become one of the historic leaders.

Parliamentarian since 1953, president of the Transalpine National Assembly and for a time Minister of the Interior under Romano Prodi, the Neapolitan is above all a convinced Europeanist (twice a deputy on the benches of Strasbourg and president of the Constitutional Affairs committee of the Parliament ), working for the lasting anchoring of the Peninsula in the European concert. A commitment which will continue largely after his election in 2006 to the presidency of the Italian Republic: a great first for a politician who passed through the ranks of the PCI.

In Italy, if the costume is essentially honorary, the president often imposes himself as an arbiter in times of political crisis. Thus in 2011, in the midst of the euro zone's upheaval, Giorgio Napolitano obtained the resignation of Silvio Berlusconi, who was then replaced, without going through the electoral process, by the economist Mario Monti and his government of "technicians".

In 2013, while Italy was going through a political storm, between legislative elections without a winner and a presidential election without a king, the Neapolitan, having reached the end of his mandate, was forced to reluctantly return: a first in Italy modern, glaring symbol of the impasse of the transalpine system. But Giorgio Napolitano does not intend to stay forever at the Quirinal. Especially since his second round as president was marked by Italy's economic setbacks and a call to appear before a court (again, a first) on the issue of state/mafia negotiations in the early 1990s.

After “feeling the weight of age and growing difficulties,” he confided to the Italians in his 2014 end-of-year speech, Napolitano finally bowed out. “It’s better to leave when you’re standing,” he assures, leaving the heights of the Palazzo del Quirinale to reach the benches of the Senate, the final political home of “Re Giorgio.”