Italy: incumbent head of state mattarella re-elected

Presidential election : Italy: Acting head of state Mattarella re-elected

80-year-old Sergio Mattarella has been re-elected president in Italy

Rome When things go pear-shaped in Italian politics, the head of state often becomes an important anchor. Sergio Mattarella, who is still in office, did not actually want to. But the parties gave him no choice.

After nearly a week of electoral spectacle in Rome, Italy’s elected representatives have confirmed incumbent head of state Sergio Mattarella in office for another seven years. The 80-year-old Sicilian achieved the second-best result for a head of state in the country’s history.

The parties had previously failed for seven rounds of voting to present another candidate who received the necessary votes. On Saturday, leading politicians knew no more and agreed on Mattarella. It was the only way out to save Italy from “madness,” former head of government Matteo Renzi said before the eighth round of voting.

Congratulations from abroad

A parliamentary employee collects a ballot box in the Italian Parliament

A few hours later, 759 of a possible 1009 electoral men and women voted for Mattarella. Presidents from Germany, the United States, France and even the Pope congratulated the Catholic on his re-election. Am 3. February, the “presidente,” popular with the people and many politicians, is to be sworn in – the day his current term ends.

Late Saturday night, Mattarella made a public statement. The difficult days of the presidential election and the state of health and economic emergency required a sense of responsibility and respect for the decisions of Parliament, he explained. “These conditions force not to evade the duties that call.”

Mattarella, a lawyer and former constitutional judge, is thus entering a second term in office, like his predecessor Giorgio Napolitano. This is rather unusual in Italy. The head of state has important powers. It acts as a steer during political crises, which are not uncommon in Italy. The president can dissolve the parliament and appoint laws and ministers – and also prevent them from doing so.

Government crisis averted

The election averted a government crisis. But the sometimes wild political tactics ripped wounds in the ruling majority alliance. “The parliament has cut a pathetic figure after a week of electoral circus,” South Tyrolean senator Julia Unterberger told dpa. She was present at the election. “The difficulty in Italy is that every party is divided,” explained the politician from the Christian Democratic South Tyrolean People’s Party. He says no party leader has a grip on his people, except Giorgia Meloni of the far-right Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy).

Italian newspapers handed out school grades to party leaders in their Sunday editions. Matteo Salvini of the right-wing Lega scored worst in “La Stampa” and “Corriere della Sera”. “A tragic figure. A party leader in the clutches of a game that is obviously too big for him”, summed up “La Stampa”. Salvini proposed new candidates for days, none of which met with approval. The Lega said it would reflect on the processes of the election in the party council. The center-right alliance of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, Lega and Fratelli d’Italia is now considered broken.

Better did, according to the leaves, among others, the far-right Meloni, who could not be swayed from his line, and the Social Democrat Enrico Letta, who acted with more patience and in the end was able to keep his party colleague Mattarella in office as desired.

Mattarella was already looking forward to rest

The 80-year-old is reportedly fit – unlike Napolitano who ended his second term prematurely in 2015 at 89 for health reasons. “When they elected me to the Quirinale, I was worried because I knew how demanding the task was,” Mattarella told a school in Rome in May 2021. In eight months, his term as president will end, he explains at the time, obviously looking forward to retirement. “I am old, in a few months I will be able to rest.”

Actually, the Sicilian was already sitting on packed moving boxes and wanted to return to Palermo, where he comes from. The father of three children made it clear before the election that he did not want a second term in office. Talks with, among others, Prime Minister Mario Draghi seemed to have finally changed his mind.

On Sunday night, a well-known street artist, according to her, put up a poster near the Quirinal Palace in Rome, where the head of state resides. On it Mattarella is shown running after a moving van and shouting: “Stop, turn back!”

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