(FILE) - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano waves his hat upon arriving home in Rome, Italy, 14 January 2015 (reissued 22 September 2023). EFE/EPA/MASSIMO PERCOSSI *** Local Caption *** 52315142

Giorgio Napolitano, two-time president of Italy, dies at 98

Rome, Sept 22 (EFE).- The two-time president of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, known as “King Giorgio” for all the occasions when he had to guarantee the country’s governmenability, died on Friday in Rome at 98.

Napolitano left politics on January 15, 2015, when he resigned after almost nine years as President of the Italian Republic and two years after accepting a second term because the parties could not reach a sufficient consensus to decide on a successor.

At the age of 88, he became the first president to repeat a term, followed by the current head of state, Sergio Mattarella, for the same reasons.

Napolitano, who replaced Carlo Azeglio Ciampi on May 10, 2006, was re-elected on April 20, 2013. After his resignation, he declared that he wanted to devote himself entirely to his family. Although he was a senator for life, he was rarely seen in the Chamber.

During his nine years as head of state, “King Giorgio” had to break the paralysis of the Italian political system on several occasions.

He did so when Romano Prodi’s coalition government, El Olivo, fell in 2008 after months of wavering, motions of censure, and withdrawals of confidence, and he had to end the crisis and call elections again.

But his great masterstroke came at a delicate moment for Italy, when he forced Silvio Berlusconi to resign in the face of recession and opted for the technocratic path, putting Professor Mario Monti in power with the support of Europe.

Monti’s government implemented several plans to reduce public spending and an adjustment plan of more than 30,000 million euros (November 2011-December 2012), respecting the maximum public deficit limit required by the European Union (EU).

His hand did not tremble when the spokesmen of the Berlusconi coalition in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies asked him to pardon the former prime minister for his conviction for tax fraud, which had him removed from parliament.

Napolitano stated that no request for pardon had been presented to him, to which he had to respond. However, he stressed that “regarding any final sentence and the consequent obligation to apply it, nothing can be done other than to take note of it.”

Berlusconi refused to present the request for pardon.

Born in Naples on June 29, 1925, Napolitano entered politics immediately after graduating in law in 1942, when he founded a communist and anti-fascist group that took part in numerous actions against the Nazis during World War II.

A member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) since 1945, he was first elected to Parliament in 1953 and then re-elected, except in the fourth legislative period, until 1996, always for the constituency of Naples.

He resigned two years later, the day after his break with the PCI at the historic Rimini Congress in 1991, when Napolitano, an exponent of the moderate and social-democratic current, joined the Democratic Party of the Left.

He leaped to Europe in 1992 as a member of the European Parliament. Still, he returned to Italy after being elected President of the Chamber of Deputies on June 3 that year, replacing Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.

Romano Prodi appointed him Minister of the Interior in 1996, a position he held until he resigned in October 1998. He returned to Europe in 1999 and was president of the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs until June 2004.

A year later, he was appointed senator for life by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, whom he replaced on May 10, 2006, with the support of 543 votes out of a possible 1,000 in the fourth round of voting, in which only a simple majority was required.

He was a personal friend of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and one of the personalities who, in 1951, prevented the expulsion from Italy of the Nobel Prize in Literature winner and helped to publish one of his most important works, “The Captain’s Verses.” EFE