Italy re-elects the President of the Republic amid manoeuvres and disappointments
After months of debate on who could take the place of the outgoing President Sergio Mattarella, the newly elected President is once again Mattarella. He was again voted in on Saturday, 29th January by the main parties that form the current Government, a multi-colour coalition that includes Lega, Partito Democratico, Movimento Cinquestelle, and Forza Italia.
When the electoral process started on Monday, all parties held very different views on who to elect given that President Mattarella had previously made it clear that he was not seeking to be re-elected. However, the positions of each party changed several times, due to the intricate process of election of the Italian Head of State.
Firstly, the election is indirect as the electors are the Members of the Parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate) and around 50 representatives nominated by the Italian regions. The challenging element of this vote is its secrecy, making it more difficult for parties to control its own members’ vote. Also, in contrast to other Europen countries, there is no list of official candidates and the nominations are agreed through complicated negotiations and gradually emerge during the voting rounds. The complexity of the vote for this term was mainly due to the fact that there is no clear and united majority in the current Parliament.
The first three voting rounds require a majority of two thirds to elect a President and this year, as it usually happens, these early rounds had proven inconclusive and full of random names that did not indicate precise orientations of the parties. The reason is that each party tried to keep their cards close to their chest until the last minute, in order not to sacrifice its own preferred candidate.
Then, on Tuesday the main parties of the centre right proposed three names of esteemed figures with no party affiliation but coming from the same political flank. Howevr, during meetings with the other main parties, no support for any of the proposed names was found. After further negotiations, the centre right, which had the relative majority of the Parliament, tried to verify the feasibility of proposing one of its own representatives, the current President of the Senate Maria Elisabetta Casellati (Forza Italia). The move turned out inconclusive as the left (including Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party) and Cinque Stelle abstained and Casellati did not even obtain all the votes from the centre right parties, taking friendly fire especially from her own party. In a climate of divisions and chaotic emergence of new and old names, it became apparent that no new candidate, political or technical, would have obtained the majority in the Parliament.
As a result, the centre right split into the support of the re-election of President Mattarella, with Lega and Forza Italia bringing forward the nomination together with PD, Movimento Cinquestelle, and Italia Viva; while Fratelli d’Italia condemned the move and decided to vote Carlo Nordio, one of the three names it had initially indicated.
The re-election of Mattarella represents the recreation of the same coalition that is currently supporting the Government of Mario Draghi, showing a unity of diverse parties with desire for continuity. It also depicts the failure of the current parties to propose and impose a new valid candidate and the will of finding a common solution within the shortest delay.