“David Sassoli died on January 11 at 1:15 am at the CRO (oncology reference center) in Aviano, Italy, (north of Venice, editor’s note) where he had been hospitalized” since the end of December, announced Roberto on Twitter Cuillo, the spokesperson for David Sassoli.
“The date and place of the funeral will be communicated in the next few hours,” he added.
Monday afternoon, his spokesperson announced the hospitalization of Mr. Sassoli “due to a serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system” and the cancellation of his official activities.
Having suffered from leukemia in the past, he had already been hospitalized this fall for pneumonia which had kept him away from the European Parliament for several weeks.
Former journalist presenter of television news in Italy before turning to politics, David Sassoli had been at the head of the Strasbourg assembly since 2019. His term ended this month, at the halfway point of the five-year legislature.
The election for his succession, to which he had been questioning for a while that he would represent himself, is currently scheduled for January 18.
His group, the Social Democrats (S&D), the second political force in the European Parliament, had given up in mid-December to present a candidate, paving the way for the election of the EPP candidate (right), the current first Vice-President of Parliament, the Maltese Roberta Metsola.
Interviewed on the Rai News 24 television channel, Roberto Cuillo paid tribute to “a good, tenacious and combative man”, with “constant attention to the most vulnerable”. “He was a true democrat. He believed in the meeting of different cultures, ”he added.
The Italian Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini (Democratic Party, PD), quickly paid tribute to him on Twitter: “Ciao David, friend of a lifetime”, in a message accompanied by a photo of David Sassoli.
In recent hours, many Internet users including several political figures in Italy had shown their support for David Sassoli on social networks, using the hashtag #ForzaDavid (“Courage, David”), in unison with messages of support from officials European institutions and MEPs.
Member of the European Parliament since 2009 without stopping with a failure in the municipal elections in Rome in 2013, David Sassoli was elected President of the European Parliament in July 2019 following negotiations between the major European political forces for the main positions of responsibility in the EU .
The right, which had obtained the presidency of the Commission with Ursula von der Leyen, and the liberal-centrists, represented in the Council by Charles Michel, had also voted for him.
But his mandate, in which he was very involved, was quickly undermined by the health crisis, which forced the European Parliament, the only elected European institution, to work remotely.
Out of solidarity in the midst of a pandemic, David Sassoli had made an impression by making the deserted premises of Parliament available, both in Strasbourg and in Brussels for the preparation of meals for people in need, the installation of a screening center. or to serve as a refuge for isolated women.
MEPs expressed their emotion shortly after the announcement of the death: “I am extremely sad. His work to modernize Parliament from top to bottom was visionary, and I hope we can complete the tasks he had undertaken “to reform the institution, reacted Danish MEP Karen Melchior (Renew, Liberals).
“My heart is broken. Europe has lost a leader, I have lost a friend, democracy has lost a champion, ”said Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, expected to succeed him.
Discreet but firm in his conduct of debates in the hemicycle both in Strasbourg and in Brussels, David Sassoli had received “unanimous support” from his political group in November to run for a second term. But he had not officially declared himself a candidate at the time, and his state of health left some uncertainty about this candidacy.
“We are not here to talk about me, I am at the service of my group,” he prudently told S&D MEPs. The group had preferred, in mid-December, to give up presenting a candidate.