Giorgio Napolitano, First Communist To Serve As Italian President, Passes Away At 98
Giorgio Napolitano, the first Communist to hold the presidency in Italy and the first person to be elected twice to the mostly ceremonial position, passed away on Friday, as announced by the presidential palace. He was 98 years old, as reported by the Associated Press (AP).
As a prominent member of what had long been the largest Communist party in the Western world, Napolitano often took positions that deviated from party orthodoxy. I Photo: © European Union 2014 - European Parliament
A statement issued on Friday night by the presidential palace confirmed the Italian news reports of Napolitano's death.
He had been in declining health and had been receiving medical care in a Rome hospital for several weeks.
The current president, Sergio Mattarella, praised his predecessor as the head of state in a message, stating that Napolitano's life "reflected a significant portion of Italy's history in the second half of the 20th century, with its dramas, complexities, objectives, and hopes," as also reported by Japan Times.
As a prominent member of what had long been the largest Communist party in the Western world, Napolitano often took positions that deviated from party orthodoxy.
He actively sought dialogue with Italian and European socialists to end his party's isolation, and he was an early supporter of European integration.
Turin's daily newspaper, La Stampa, once described Napolitano as "the least communist Communist that the party ever enlisted." In a condolence telegram to Napolitano's widow, Clio, Pope Francis acknowledged the late president's "remarkable intellectual gifts and sincere passion for Italian political life, as well as his profound interest in the fate of nations.