Quirinale Palazzo scene of the Italian presidential ballot

Italian Presidential Ballot: Groundhog Day as fourth round is inconclusive


The outcome of Thursday’s vote in the Italian presidential ballot was inconclusive. It became arithmetically impossible to reach the majority needed, well before the end of the count.

Outgoing President, Sergio Mattarella, received over 160 votes, while magistrate Nino Di Matteo, polled in the mid-50s.

The expectation was the fourth day of the Italian presidential ballot would have the same outcome as the first three. That despite the majority droppinng from two-thirds to a simple majority. A fifth ballot of lawmakers will now take place on Friday, with the magic number set at 505.

No consensus on candidates

On Thursday, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the left-wing LeU group told their grand electors to cast blank papers. Meanwhile, the centre right abstained.

On Tuesday, the centre right parties – League, Forza Italia (FI) – and right-wing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party, proposed three candidates. The candidates were: former education minister and ex-Milan mayor Letizia Moratti, former prosecutor Carlo Nordio and former Senate Speaker and philosopher Marcello Pera.

PD leader Enrico Letta declined the candidates.

There was speculation the centre right wanted to push for Senate Speaker Elisabetta Casellati as Italy’s first woman president. However, the PD reportedly convinced Salvini’s group not to vote for a centre-right candidate, but rather to seek a consensus figure. The concern was such an action by the League would rock the stability of the broad majority supporting Premier Mario Draghi’s executive.

Salvini has called on the centre left to propose someone saying it was not up to him to come up with the name of a left-winger.

Draghi “precious where he is”

Some commentators say the longer the parties fail to agree on a consensus figure, the more likely it is that Draghi will end up becoming head of State. However, many want him to stay on as premier.  Salvini said on Thursday that Draghi is “precious where he is”.

If Draghi, former ECB chief, is elected president it could lead to early elections. This is because many find it hard to imagine the broad spectrum of parties which support his national unity executive agreeing to get behind another figure.

There has even been talk of Mattarella being re-elected. This has only happened once, with his predecessor Giorgio Napolitano. If this were the case, Mattarella, 80, would stay on for a few more years. That would be until after the end of the current parliamentary term in 2023 and the next general election.

At that point, it might be easier for parliament to choose a successor, possibly Draghi.

    “I don’t think things will be wrapped up today. I think they will be wrapped up tomorrow,” said ex-premier Matteo Renzi, the leader of the small, centrist IV party.

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