Secret ballot to elect Italy’s president begins as Berlusconi drops out | Italy

Italian parliamentarians will begin voting for a new president on Monday after scandal-ridden Silvio Berlusconi abandoned his dream of becoming the next head of state.

More than 1,000 lawmakers and regional delegates will take part in the complex secret ballot, described as akin to nominating a new pope, who could go through several rounds before a successor to Sergio Mattarella, who is due to step down on February 3, i have selected.

The winner of the seven-year term needs a two-thirds majority in the first three ballots; from the fourth, an absolute majority suffices. Only three times in the history of the election has a new president emerged in the first round.

Berlusconi, who served Italy four times as prime minister, failed to garner enough support for his candidacy and in a heartfelt letter wrote that in the spirit of “national responsibility” he asked his supporters to “give up” identifying him as a candidate.

He reported to hospital for “routine” checks on Sunday, his spokesman said, although two sources told Reuters he had been hospitalized since Thursday and Italian media reported that his family was worried about his health.

Even though there are no official candidates in Italy’s presidential election, the 85-year-old broke with tradition and campaigned by calling on unaffiliated parliamentarians to canvass them for votes, while raising his public persona by running full-page ads in national newspapers showcasing his personality. the traits and accomplishments that he felt made him the best person for the job.

His renunciation removed an obstacle to negotiations on a mutually acceptable candidate between the leaders of the political parties. However, by Sunday no clear candidate had been named. Berlusconi, who runs Forza Italia, vetoed the approval of current Prime Minister Mario Draghi, arguing that the former head of the European Central Bank must remain prime minister until the end of the legislature in 2023 .

Draghi, who is credited with restoring stability to Italian politics, is seen as the frontrunner, although broad support is not guaranteed over fears his move to the presidential palace could trigger a snap election.

The most crucial issue at stake is the Italian government’s adherence to the reforms that must be adopted in order to guarantee disbursements from the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, of which Italy is the main beneficiary.

“With Draghi, there is not so much enthusiasm from all parties,” a center-left Democratic Party (PD) source said. “The Five Star Movement fears this will lead to a snap election, and some within the PD fear there may be a government in which they will lose their ministerial positions.”

Italy’s president is a largely ceremonial role, although he has the power to resolve political crises, choose prime ministers, call snap elections, and approve or overturn laws. Mattarella has been forced to intervene on several occasions to resolve crises, including calling on Draghi to form a unity government in February last year after the collapse of the administration led by Giuseppe Conte.

Draghi, 74, has neither confirmed nor denied his interest in becoming president. If elected, Vittorio Colao, Minister for Technological Innovation and former CEO of Vodafone, would be ready to replace Draghi as Prime Minister.

“The problem is that it’s a bit complex to get Draghi out of the prime minister’s post and put him in the presidential palace,” said Franco Pavoncello, professor of political science and president of John Cabot University in Rome. . “We have a star prime minister here who is considered one of the great leaders of the western world. On the other hand, there is a feeling that he might be more reassuring as president than as prime minister. as long as he finds a good replacement, and that’s why Colao’s name floats.

Other possible candidates for the presidency include Pier Ferdinando Casini, a centrist senator who is said to have good cross-party relations, Marta Cartabia, the justice minister, and Giuliano Amato, a former prime minister. Meanwhile, a faction of the Five Star Movement is pushing for Mattarella to stay for another year.

“Amato is a possibility because Berlusconi likes him, like the whole centre-left,” the PD source said. “The difficulty is getting his name accepted by the rest of the right. Amato might be a compromise for Forza Italia, but maybe not for the League.

Matteo Salvini, who leads the League, and his far-right ally Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the Brothers of Italy, said they would not accept any more ‘vetoes from the left’ after Berlusconi’s withdrawal from the race . However, neither the left nor the right hold enough power in parliament to make the decisions, so the impasse will have to be broken. Parliamentarians will vote once a day until a winner emerges.

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