David Sassoli, the president of the European Parliament, died early Tuesday in Italy, his spokesman and the parliament’s office in Washington said. He was 65.
The office said in a post on Twitter that Mr. Sassoli had died in the Italian town of Aviano.
No cause of death was immediately available. But he was hospitalized with severe pneumonia during a plenary session of the Parliament in Strasbourg, France, in September. He later returned to Italy to recover, The Associated Press reported.
Mr. Sassoli was hospitalized again in Italy on Dec. 26 because his immune system was not functioning normally, his spokesman, Roberto Cuillo, said on Monday on social media.
Mr. Sassoli, a member of Italy’s center-left Democratic Party, has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009. He was elected vice president five years later and has led the body since 2019.
Two years ago, he was not a well-known figure outside Italy when he beat Jan Zahradil, a Euroskeptic candidate from the Czech Republic, after two rounds of voting. Mr. Sassoli’s spokesman said in mid-December that he would not seek a second term, which lasts two and a half years.
The European Parliament approves or rejects legislation, establishes budgets and supervises a variety of institutions within the European Union. Its 700-plus members serve five-year terms; the next election is in 2024. The Parliament also plays a crucial role in selecting the president of the European Commission, whose members are appointed by national governments.
The commission’s current president, Ursula von der Leyen, addressed Mr. Sassoli’s illness in a Twitter post on Monday night.
“Dear David, my thoughts are with you as you fight for your health,” she wrote. “I wish you a speedy and full recovery. Bon courage, as you often say.”
David Maria Sassoli was born in Florence, Italy, on May 30, 1956, according to his website and a short biography published online by his political group in Parliament.