Italy repeats president with Mattarrella to bridge the political abyss

He had been warning for weeks that he was leaving.

In almost every speech he included some message “for my successor”, or against re-electing the President of the Republic.

He had begun equipping his former president’s office, rented an apartment in one of Rome’s noble neighborhoods, and packed the boxes for the move.

But at 80 years old, Sergio Mattarella has ended up accepting the appeal of the parties and he will remain as head of the Italian government for another seven years.

Mattarella takes the chestnuts out of the fire for Italian political leaders after six days of political blockade, high tension, chaos, confusion and lack of control.

It was the opportunity for those leaders to play politics again after a year as commissioners, subordinate to a technical prime minister.

But they have been staring at the toy, not knowing what to do with it, and in the end they have broken it.

The pieces have been picked up by the big voters, who have taken the helm and, ignoring their bosses, have voted for the candidate who avoids early elections and guarantees their seat for one more year.

Mattarella received more votes in each round, until the leaders had to give in to the evidence.

Why does Mattarella repeat so much attention?

Because of his personal reluctance to be re-elected and because of the Constitution.

The Italian Magna Carta indicates that “the President of the Republic is elected for seven years” and that 30 days before the end of the mandate, the process to “elect the new president” must begin.

Traditionally it has been interpreted as a single mandate, without the possibility of re-election.

Only Giorgio Napolitano has repeated, but he did it in a time of crisis (2013) and was understood as something exceptional.

Mattarella’s re-election consolidates the precedent and can lead to change the constitutional interpretation and normalize the second term.

What happened to Mario Draghi?

The prime minister started as the favorite in the presidential race and did everything right: he waited patiently in the shadows and never exposed himself.

Against him weighed that his jump to the Quirinal could have brought down the government precipitating the elections, the scenario that most terrifies parliamentarians.

He was never able to overcome that hurdle, but he comes out of the mess unscathed and his role does not change, he continues to work to get Italy out of the hole of the pandemic at the head of his almost concentration government.

Who loses out in all this?

Italian political leaders are no doubt engulfed in chaos in their own ranks, Giuseppe Conte in particular.

Each faction of the 5 Star Movement had its candidate and the big voters systematically ignored Conte’s instructions to vote blank, in many cases to bet on Mattarella.

The former prime minister can no longer pretend as if nothing is happening or convince anyone that the Movement is a compact bloc under his control.

And Matteo Salvini, leader of the League, the largest party of the right-wing bloc, made a mistake.

He believed he was stronger than he was and thought he could elect a president on his own, without sitting down to negotiate with the center-left.

After burning his candidate, the president of the Senate, began to lurch, snubbing his partners from Forza Italia and the Brothers of Italy to try to agree several times with the 5 Star Movement.

As a result, he is left without his own president, de facto breaks the alliance of the right and comes out of this tragic week much weaker.

And now that?

Mattarella and Draghi will continue to form a tandem, as before.

The Quirinal farce will stun the parties for a while and that will make the prime minister’s job easier.

The truce will not last long, we are in a pre-election year and soon the panic at the polls will begin.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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