Europe

Former TV journalist David Sassoli elected European Parliament president

Italy's David-Maria Sassoli smiles after being elected President of the European Parliament. Source: AP

Italian former journalist David Sassoli has been selected as the new president of the European Parliament, beating three other candidates.

The European Parliament on Wednesday elected an Italian social democrat as its new president, filling the final top EU job a day after Brussels named two women to key posts for the first time.

Italy's David Sassoli, a 63-year-old former journalist, won the absolute majority of ballots he needed at the second round of voting, seeing off German Green Ska Keller, far-left Spaniard Sira Rego and Czech conservative Jan Zahradil.

The sober intellectual will not be an ally of the populist and far-right coalition currently ruling in Rome.

The centre-left politician beat three other candidates and will assume the role of assembly speaker.
The centre-left politician beat three other candidates and will assume the role of assembly speaker.
AAP

Born in Florence on May 30, 1956, father-of-two Sassoli studied political science before starting work as a newspaper and news agency journalist.

He began working for national broadcaster RAI in 1992, rising through the ranks to become a familiar face for millions of Italians, presenting the evening news on the main channel, of which he also became deputy-director.

In 2009, Sassoli joined the Democratic Party, newly formed from former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni's union of the two main left-wing and centre-left parties.

His celebrity meant he was elected MEP on the DP's list with a whopping 400,000 votes, sending him from Italian television screens to a new career at the European parliament.

Sassoli became head of the DP's European group and briefly attempted to enter national politics as the party's candidate in Rome's mayoral primaries but was beaten by Ignazio Marino, who went on to become mayor.

Re-elected MEP in 2014, Sassoli became parliament's vice-president in charge of the budget and Euro-Mediterranean policy.

"While in charge of this policy, I represented the European parliament at numerous official occasions, developing dialogue with institutions in Mediterranean and Middle East countries," Sassoli said on his website.

He was the joint author of the Sassoli-Dijksma European railway reform which liberalised rail travel in 2017 after three years of complex negotiations.

"I have not completely abandoned my journalist career, I still collaborate in an active way with various dailies and periodicals," he said.

David Sassoli began working for national broadcaster RAI in 1992, rising through the ranks to become a familiar face for millions of Italians.
David Sassoli began working for national broadcaster RAI in 1992, rising through the ranks to become a familiar face for millions of Italians.
Facebook

He co-wrote a book with fellow politician Francesco Saverio Romano about the drama of cabinet meetings during the 1978 kidnap and murder of prime minister Aldo Moro by far-left militants.

"If you put your trust in me, we will fight together for a parliament that is modern, more transparent, environmentally sound, accessible to citizens," he promised ahead of the vote on his nomination.

"Nothing is possible without people, nothing is durable without institutions," he added, quoting one of the EU's founding fathers, Jean Monnet.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch