Who will become the next president of Italy?

In the heart of Rome, the Quirinal has been Italy’s most important palace for centuries. First the residence of the popes, then of the House of Savoy, and since 1946 it has been the seat of the presidency of the republic. In recent years, it has once again become the temple of Italian power.

Italy is a parliamentary republic: the post-fascist constitution of 1947 is wary of an overly powerful head of state or government.

But with the 1992 national investigation into political corruption known as “Mani pulite” – and the ensuing collapse of mass parties – as well as a succession of political crises, the role of the president of the republic has become more and more important.

One example is Giorgio Napolitano – nicknamed “King Giorgio” because he was president for almost nine years, from 2006 to 2015, a unique event in the history of republican Italy – and the outgoing president Sergio Mattarella, which was decisive in the rise of Mario Draghi. as prime minister.

“The presidents of the immediate post-war period had a lower profile, the leading role was played by the political forces”, explains Marco Follini, a deputy prime minister of the Berlusconi era.

“Over time, the role of the president has become more and more crucial. In part because presidents have chosen to interpret their mandate in a way that is not simply that of a notary. And in part, and most importantly, I would say, because the parties that dominated the political arena until a few years ago have lost much of their influence, “Follini added.

The Head of State is elected by members of parliament – Chamber of Deputies and Senate meeting in a single session – to which are added a number of representatives from each region.

Electing a president from his own political sphere represents a huge opportunity: more and more, it means influencing the general policy and the balance of the country.

Draghi vs. Berlusconi

So who will the 1,008 “big voters”, as MPs and regional representatives are called, elect in January?

They are unlikely to rename Mattarella, who has made it clear he does not want to be re-elected.

However, the Draghi-Mattarella couple “have been phenomenal, also in boosting the image of Italy internationally,” notes Antonella Seddone, associate professor of political science at the University of Turin.

“An example is the Quirinal Treaty signed by Macron and Draghi before Mattarella. Such international convergences have been found because two personalities like Mattarella and Draghi are reassuring. They make other countries, but also the markets, feel that they can count on them. Italy, ”Seddone said.

For much of the Italian press, the ideal presidential candidate is Draghi. Some commentators are even calling for changes to the Constitution to make its actions more effective.

“With the exception of a few scattered critical voices, the media are totally focused on the praise of Draghi, who is represented as the savior of the country and the panacea to all the ills of the republic”, explains Francescomaria Tedesco, professor of science policies. philosophy at the University of Camerino.

“It’s a grotesque attitude, a sinister fascination with technocracy. Needless to say how stupid and dangerous the idea of ​​the sole responsible is. Especially since it is the result of an endogamic reproduction. ruling classes, ”Tedesco said.

“Part of the Italian political spectrum would be happy with Draghi at the Quirinal. It would be a way of prolonging an all too comfortable phase, in which he enjoys the benefits and visibility of power, without entrusting the responsibility to Draghi and his advisers. to govern, ”he added.

According to former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, it is for the Italian center-right to elect the head of state: Napolitano was a leading member of the Italian Communist Party until 1991, and Mattarella is a Christian Democrat from left.

Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, would like to see former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi elected. But for many parts of the left and public opinion, the idea is unacceptable.

Part of the center-left, including Giuseppe Conte, the leader of the Five Star Movement, calls for the election of a woman.

It would be the first time in Italian history.

“Unfortunately, I think that the gender card could be played in an instrumental way, to appease political actors unable to agree on the most substantial characteristics that the president of the republic should have”, says Fedra Negri, science researcher policies at the University of Milan.

“It would not be a choice dictated by the desire to finally see a woman in an apical position, but by the need to fill a decisional void,” said Negri.

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