The Italian Parliament begins on Monday to elect a new president

From Rome

After months of discussion and Silvio Berlusconi will resign his candidacy on Saturday, the Italian parliamentarians will begin this Monday, starting at 3:00 p.m. and in their respective chambers, to vote for elect a new President of the Republic. The new president he will have to replace Sergio Mattarella in February, after seven years of government.

But the choice is not as simple as it seems. The president in Italy is not elected by popular vote but by Parliament (321 senators and 630 deputies) and 58 representatives of the Italian regions (equivalent to the Argentine provinces). And from what is known so far, there will be only one vote per day. The rules establish that the candidate, in order to be elected president, must obtain two-thirds of the votes total of the Parliament and of the regional representatives (ie 673 votes), in the first, second or third ballot. If a fourth vote is reached because the necessary number was not reached, an absolute majority suffices, that is, 505 votes. But neither of the two sectors of Parliament, neither center-left nor center-right, could on its own get the necessary number of votes.

All this suggests that the election of the new president will take several days, and that in the middle of the voting, the negotiations between the parties will go ahead to lean more or less towards a candidate or propose a new one. In fact It is not compulsory to publicly present the candidates for the presidency and some parties prefer to keep them secret until the last moment.

The fact that due to anti-covid measures, the vote will be by groups of 50 parliamentarians who will enter the voting room with previously established hours, with a mask and the Super Green Pass that certifies their vaccination or a blood test, will make the election even slower. covid negative from the previous day. Many parliamentarians are sick with covid and a special system has been organized for them so that they can vote from their own car in an outdoor parking lot of Parliament, provided they are physically able to do so.

In these difficult times of the pandemic and the economic and social crisis that it has triggered, several political parties repeat that it is necessary to elect someone who represents the entire country, not just a few. And many therefore preferred to reapply Mattarella. But apparently the president, who is 80 years old, after seven years in government would have given up. The Italian press is already talking about the president’s team at the Quirinale Palace – seat of the presidency – preparing dozens of boxes with the belongings of the president who intends to return as soon as possible to live in Palermo (Sicily), where he is from. native and has his house.

But it was the resignation of Berlusconi, founder of Forza Italia and who had also been nominated by his right-wing allies, Matteo Salvini’s La Liga and Giorgia Meloni’s Fratelli d’Italia, that triggered the real discussion between them trying to design a scheme of new candidates. It also stimulated meetings with other possible allies in this matter, such as the Five Star Movement (M5S) today led by former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the first party for the number of deputies and senators.

At the beginning of the campaign, the right considered Berlusconi the candidate who could get the most votes. But based on the polls, they may have perceived that the consensus dipped the closer they got to Election Day. Some newspapers published instead that it would have been Berlusconi’s family that advised the former prime minister to abandon the candidacy to protect his health, at the age of 85 and with several illnesses that he has to control.

The Democratic Party (PD)) and other center-left parties such as M5S, Liberi e Uguali and Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva, met on Sunday to specify the steps to be taken. Apparently there was a friendly agreement. “We have decided to speak with all the political forces to arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday to a name shared by all”, the secretary of the PD, Enrico Letta, told the press when leaving the meetings. The center-left group has a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, but not in the Senate where the right leads, but in fact neither of the two sectors have enough votes on their own to elect the president. That is why the negotiations will continue.

Other possible candidates

Apart from Berlusconi and Mattarella, another of the candidates that has been talked about a lot was current Prime Minister Mario Draghi whom the right does not want because they say that it is important, for the country and Italy’s role in the world, that he remain prime minister. Draghi, 74 years old, does not belong to any party but has extensive experience at the international level, having worked for years at the Central Bank of Italy and the European Union. And since he took office as prime minister last February, he has done an excellent job in terms of covid and vaccinations and also avoiding clashes between the parties that would have gnawed at the roots of the country at a time as difficult as this.

But now it has emerged, according to the Italian press, another candidate who could take the title of president: Andrea Riccardi. University professor, lawyer, ardent progressive Catholic, Riccardi He was Minister of International Cooperation in 2011, during the government of Mario Monti. But his name is famous in Italy above all for having been the founder in 1968 of an international Catholic solidarity organization, the Community of Sant’Egidio, which helps the poor, migrants, the elderly, people living on the streets, drug addicts, and has carried out projects in these areas in some 70 countries around the world. Riccardi would be supported among others by the PD.

At the beginning of this electoral campaign there was talk of the possibility that for the first time in history, a woman would be president of Italy. But now that possibility seems to have been forgotten. Some mention a woman who had not been talked about before, and who could be a candidate for the right: Elisabetta Belloni, long-time ambassador, chosen by Draghi as head of the DIS (Department of Information for Security), a kind of coordinator of the secret services.

But the candidates could change from time to time, depending on how the vote goes and the consequent negotiations in the coming days. The leader of the M5S Conte was clear in this regard: “The M5S has a single objective and will pursue it to the end. We have 235 votes that we put at the disposal of the interest of Italians to have a president who makes us all proud to be Italians and to be well represented”.

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