Napolitano was the first Italian president to be re-elected as head of state.

Giorgio Napolitano, who served as president of Italy from 2006 until 2015, died in a Rome clinic on Friday aged 98.

Born in Naples in 1925, Napolitano was the 11th president of Italy since the abolition of the monarchy at the end of world war two.

An active antifascist during the war, he took a degree in law and in 1953 he was elected to the chamber of deputies as a member of the Italian Communist Party.

He served as president of the chamber of deputies from 1992 to 1994 and as interior minister from 1996 to 1998 in the government of Romano Prodi.

In 2005 he was appointed a senator for life by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi whom he succeeded as head of state in May the following year.

During his first term of office, Napolitano oversaw the centre-left government led by Prodi and the centre-right executive led by Silvio Berlusconi.

After Berlusconi resigned in 2011, Napolitano appointed former European commissioner Mario Monti who formed a technocrat government.

When his seven-year presidential term expired in April 2013, Napolitano – then aged 87 – reluctantly agreed to a second term to end the parliamentary deadlock that followed the general election.

Napolitano invited centre-left politician Enrico Letta to form a grand coalition and, when Letta stepped down 10 months later, the president mandated Matteo Renzi, the leader of the Partito Democratico (PD), to form a new government.

After eight and a half years as president, Napolitano resigned aged 89 in January 2015 and was succeeded by Italy’s incumbent head of state Sergio Mattarella.

Photo ANSA

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