Italy’s presidential election begins amid political uncertainty

Rome, Jan 24 (EFE).- Italy’s parliament on Monday began voting for a new head of state to replace current president Sergio Matarella, whose mandate ends on 3 February.

Over 1,000 lawmakers will participate in the secret vote, which will be repeated every day until a consensus is reached.

A clear vote is unlikely to be reached on Monday as cross-party negotiations are still underway and lawmakers will most likely cast a blank vote to buy time.

Among the most prominent candidates is prime minister Mario Draghi, who has made it clear he would like the top job, which has a 7-year term and is more appealing than managing his disorderly coalition ahead of elections next year.

But parties are reluctant to vote for Draghi as his resignation as prime minister and election as president could trigger snap general elections.

On Saturday, billionaire and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi pulled out of the run for presidency saying that Italy needed “unity.”

Berlusconi and far-right Northern League leader Matteo Salvini are calling for Draghi to stay on as prime minister for the remaining year of the government’s term.

Meanwhile, hard-right Brothers of Italy leader Giorgio Meloni, allied with Salvini and Berlusconi, put forward several right wing figures as potential candidates, hoping to attract support from the center left.

In the first three ballots, a two-thirds majority is required, while from the fourth round, an absolute majority is sufficient for a candidate to be elected.

Among other candidates are former lower house speaker Pier Ferdinando Casini and Elisabetta Belloni, co-ordinator of the secret services.

Italy’s president is a ceremonial figure who is responsible for resolving political crises and has the final say in nominating prime ministers and cabinet members. EFE


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