Italy election: who will be the new president?

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From: Bedrettin Bölükbaşı

Lega party leader Matteo Salvini wants to bring Italy back to nuclear power © Cecilia Fabiano / dpa

Italy elects a new head of state. It is far from clear who will take over this post. A quick decision is not to be expected.

Rome/Munich – The time has come for Italy: the election of the new president is pending. today (January 24) 1009 electors are supposed to cast their votes at 3 p.m. and determine the successor to Sergio Mattarella. However, the leaders of the major parties are firmly assuming that there will be no winner in the first ballot.

A candidate for the highest office in the state needs a two-thirds majority in the election to win. Without cross-camp candidates, however, this is practically impossible.

Italy election: Former ECB boss Draghi is considered the favorite – Berlusconi withdraws his candidacy

Although it is unclear how many ballots will be necessary, there is already a favorite. The current prime minister and former head of the ECB, Mario Draghi, is in a particularly good position to succeed incumbent Mattarella and is considered the favourite. Should Draghi become the new head of state, it would be the first time in Italian history that the prime minister has been promoted directly to the post of president.

At the same time, Draghi’s election would lead to problems, because in this case the future of the government would be open. The centre-left parties want the coalition to continue until the end of the 2023 legislative period. However, this requires a new, strong head of government. Who this could be after Draghi is unclear.

In the course of the elections in Italy, the candidacy of the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and thus his possible comeback attracted a lot of attention. The almost forgotten Berlusconi, who had been rather off the big political stage for a long time, suddenly made a big impression again and wanted to fight for the highest office.

Only 48 hours before the election, however, he apparently decided otherwise and withdrew his candidacy at short notice over the weekend. “I have decided to take another step in responsibility for this country,” said Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday evening (22nd of January) to explain. He will serve his country in a different way.

Italy election: Several ballots expected again – party leaders doubt a quick outcome

In fact, statements by Italian politicians show that a final decision is unlikely in the first ballot. Instead, party leaders pursue specific political strategies. The social democratic party leader Enrico Letta resigned on Sunday evening (January 23) in a TV interview that he and his colleagues will hand in white ballots in the first ballot to signal a willingness to engage in dialogue with the centre-right. The delegates of the Five Star Movement are also flirting with voting cards without names.

Party leader Matteo Salvini from the co-governing Lega is also assuming on Tuesday (January 25) to go to the second ballot – he agreed on a meeting of his delegates for that day, as was learned from party circles. Only in the fourth ballot, which is scheduled for Thursday, will a candidate for election as head of state have an absolute majority.

Italy election: Dozens of ballots prolong the process – the record is set by the Christian Democrat in 1971

Multiple ballots are not at all uncommon in Italy and would be nothing new for Italian citizens in the forthcoming election. In the 75-year history of the Republic, the elections in Italy have always been marked by long processes. The Christian Democrat Giovanni Leone set the previous record in 1971 with a total of 23 ballots. Even when it came to the election of the legendary Sandro Pertini, there were multiple ballots. Even the most popular President, Pertini, needed 16 ballots.

Italy’s new head of state will be elected for a seven-year term. In the first three ballots, each of which takes one day, a two-thirds majority is required for victory; from the fourth ballot, an absolute majority is sufficient. Even if it is a rather representative post, Italy’s president plays a central role in crisis situations. (bb with material from dpa and afp)

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