In the seemingly never-ending election process for Italy’s next president, actions by both sides of the political spectrum negated any chance of reaching an agreement. The presidential election will continue with up to two ballots per day until a resolution is reached.
In the fifth ballot the centre right failed in its bid to elect Senate Speaker Elisabetta Casellati.
Casellati is a member of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s FI party, a devout anti-abortion Catholic. She had been criticised for a notorious past Berlusconi majority vote approving a motion that a 17-year-old Moroccan runaway dancer the three-time ex-premier and media mogul paid for sex with was in fact the niece of late Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak.
The centre right said she was a bipartisan institutional figure of unimpeachable standing. She is currently the head of the Italian Senate.
In the fifth ballot, Casellati got 382 votes while 406 grand electors abstained.
The sixth ballot
The centre right abstained in the sixth ballot, while the centre left cast blank ballots.
Centre-right Forza Italia (FI) Senate Speaker Anna Maria Bernini said “we have opened negotiations with the centre-left; let’s see.” Meanwhile, centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader Enrico Letta and his centre-left ally, 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Giuseppe Conte, met with rightwing League leader Matteo Salvini.
There will be two ballots a day until a new president is elected. Prime Minister Mario Draghi is still the bookies’ favourite.
The PD, M5S and the left-wing LeU group and their nominal ally in the centrist IV party abstained in the fifth ballot. They argue a consensus figure is needed, not the pick of one side of the political spectrum.
Neither the centre-left nor the centre-right bloc has enough votes on its own to carry the election. In the past it has taken as many as 23 rounds to elect a new president.
What is needed to end the presidential election stalemate?
A simple majority is needed to elect a successor to President Sergio Mattarella; that equates to 505.
Mattarella, who has said he does not want to be re-elected, got 46 votes. That was considerably down from 166 in Thursday’s fourth ballot.
The centre right’s decision to vote for Casellati has caused tension within the broad coalition supporting Premier Mario Draghi’s government.