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Italian social democrat elected new European Parliament president

media A star is born: David Sassoli, the newly-elected president of the European parliament. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Italian social democrat MEP David Sassoli has been elected president of the European Parliament, completing the roster of top EU jobs.

Sassoli is a former television journalist who turned to politics 10 years ago as a centre-left MEP.

The continental parliament on Wednesday chose the 63-year-old social democrat to succeed another Italian, Antonio Tajani, an ally of Silvio Berlusconi from the right-wing EPP group.

His election means Italy keeps one of its three key European jobs, following the departure of European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and of EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Sassoli is not an ally of the populist and far-right coalition currently ruling in Rome.

Born in Florence on 30 May 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 TV 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.

"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 fellow MEPs ahead of the vote on his nomination.

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

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