Sergio Mattarella - who will take his place and be Italy's next president

Italy prepares for presidential election next week


The process of electing Italy’s new president starts on Monday, 24th January. Both houses of parliament and regional representatives will decide on the successor to outgoing president Sergio Mattarella.

1,009 ‘grand electors’ will decide who succeeds President Sergio Mattarella, whose seven-year term is coming to an end, on Monday.

That figure comprises 321 Senators, 630 Lower House MPs and 58 regional delegates – three for each region, except for Valle d’Aosta, which gets only one.

Two-thirds majority required

A majority of two-thirds of the ‘grand electors’ is required – 673 in total – over three ballots. There is set to be one vote a day. After the three days, a simple majority of 505 is sufficient.

With Covid regulations affecting which of the ‘grand electors’ could vote, should they prove positive, on Friday Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government passed a decree to allow any who are positive for COVID-19 to vote at a ‘drive-through’ voting station. The station will be set up in the Lower House’s car park.

Draghi is among the favourites to be the Italy’s next president.

How impartial should the president be?

The leaders of Italy’s political parties have been holding meetings for days regarding the election of Italy’s next president. Key to who will triumph is the question of impartiality.  

The president is more than a figurehead and symbol of national unity. Under the constitution, the head of state acts as referee of sorts. It is especially important at times of political crisis.

The centre right has been considering backing ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi as Mattarella’s replacement. However, there are doubts about the Forza Italia leader’s chances of taking the top job due to staunch opposition from the Democratic Party (PD) and the 5-Star Movement (M5S).

ANSA sources said Berlusconi was set to decide whether to seek election as president by Sunday.

 Vittorio Sgarbi, an art critic and Forza Italia MP, said the media billionaire might be thinking about an alternative name to propose instead of his own.

Related article: Is Berlusconi’s bid over?

League leader Matteo Salvini said on Friday that he would “make one or two high-level proposals” that no one would be able to veto.

Draghi election could lead to early general election

If Draghi, the former ECB chief, wins the presidency, it could lead to early elections. This is because many find it hard to imagine the broad spectrum of parties supporting another figure. Indeed, Berlusconi threatened to pull his party’s support from the coalition should Draghi win.

There has also been talk of Mattarella being re-elected. This has only happened once before, when his predecessor Giorgio Napolitano stayed on.

Mattarella, 80-years-old, appeared to rule that out on Thursday, telling the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), that it will soon be presided over by a new head of State.

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