Giorgio Napolitano, the “monarch” president who inaugurated the Italian Republic, dies

Giorgio Napolitano, the “monarch” president who inaugurated the Italian Republic, dies

2023-09-22 22:02:00

Alessandro Bianchi | REUTERS

With an austere and sober style, the nicknamed “king” for his influence played a stabilizing role in difficult times for the country.

22 sep 2023 . Updated at 10:02 p.m.

Giorgio Napolitanothe first president in the history of the Italian Republic, He died yesterday in Rome at the age of 98.. Elected in 2006 and 2013, his second term ended prematurely, in January 2015, to hand over to current president Sergio Mattarella. Precisely because of his almost nine years at the head of the Italian State, the media of the transalpine country nicknamed him «king George». A tribute to his influence and his stabilizing role in difficult times for Italybut also to his austere and sober style, which made an English politician jokingly define him as “the best imitation of a banker of the city» that I had ever seen. And Napolitano was born in 1925 in Naples, a city famous for the lively intelligence and extroversion of its inhabitants, and was a communist for decades.

Son of a middle class family, he graduated in Law. He adhered to communism while fascist Italy disastrously lost the Second World War, and in the postwar period he was one of the young people counted on by Palmiro Togliatti, the leader of the PCI appreciated by Stalin. A moderate communist, defined as “right-wing” by many of his colleagues, he traveled to the United States in 1978 and in the 80s. He was not only critical of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, but also a supporter of NATO: Some time later, Henry Kissinger jokingly called him “my favorite communist.”

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He was a deputy for decades, president of the Chamber of Deputies and then Minister of the Interior during the first Government of Romano Prodi, from 1996 to 1998. He decisively supported the evolution of the PCI towards the center-left Democratic Party, and In 2006 he was elected president of the Republic for the first time..

In 2011, with the crisis of the Government then led by Berlusconi and the growing difficulties of the Italian economy, he contributed to the creation of a Government of national unity led by the economist Mario Monti, who inaugurated important economic reforms. He was re-elected president in 2013, in a politically difficult situation for Italy.

Archived in: Italy Giorgio Napolitano Sergio Mattarella Romano Prodi Silvio Berlusconi

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