Politician acclaimed as a national hero for ensuring that Italy joined the single currency
In Italy politicians are even more despised than elsewhere, but Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, president of the republic from 1999 to 2006, was one of the few who escaped opprobrium. When he died at the age of 95, the praise was near-universal. Supporters of the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi joined hands with those of the centre-left in celebrating an honest, sincere and self-effacing man who exuded integrity.
The only discordant note came from Matteo Salvini, the leader of the xenophobic Northern League, who declared that Ciampi had been, “politically speaking”, a “traitor”. Few were surprised: Salvini is given to hyperbolic pronouncements, having last year announced that the euro was a crime against humanity.