Colombo was the last surviving member of the Italian Constituent Assembly, a parliamentary chamber tasked with rewriting the constitution for the Italian Republic after the Second World War between 1946 and 1948, following the death of former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti in May this year.
Born on April 11th 1920 in Potenza in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, the politician and law graduate was a key figure in both Italian and European post-war political history.
He first entered politics at the age of 26, according to Corriere della Sera, when he was elected to Italy’s Constituent Assembly as a member of the Christian Democratic Party (DC), with almost 21,000 votes.
Colombo went on to become Prime Minister of Italy between 1970 and 1972 and has also served as Foreign Minister, Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Minister of Industry and Trade among others.
Notably, as Italy’s Foreign Minister, Colombo was a strong advocate of the European Union and helped lay out the plans for the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
Between 1977 and 1979 he also served as President of the European Parliament.
But in 2001 the former political leader suffered a political setback when his candidacy for the Democrazia Europea party was rejected after obtaining just 15.3 percent of votes.
In 2003, the same year he was made a senator for life by the then President of the Republic, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Colombo admitted to having used cocaine for therapeutic reasons.
In an obituary, Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore describes the politician’s best qualities as “elegance, kindness, easy for anybody to get along with (later on, you would often see him speaking with peasants from Lucania [or Basilicata] who knew him since he was very young, as if they had known each other for years), the ability to understand, predict and control political processes.”