Italian parties seek to solve presidential conundrum ahead of election

  • The election of the new president begins on Monday
  • Incumbent Mattarella has ruled out a new term
  • Parties fear snap election if Draghi wins election
  • Polls show strong support for Draghi and Mattarella

ROME, Jan 21 (Reuters) – Italy’s myriad parties held behind-the-scenes talks on Friday to avoid deadlock over electing the next head of state, with Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s nomination seen as the most likely outcome.

Parliamentarians and regional elected officials will meet on Monday for a first ballot. Voting is secret and the winner must obtain a two-thirds majority in one of the first three ballots. An absolute majority then suffices. Read more

The president has many ceremonial duties, but is also tasked with resolving political crises, making him a key role in a country where governments only survive for a year on average.

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Neither the center-right nor center-left blocs have enough votes to impose a candidate from their own side, meaning some sort of compromise is needed to avoid a prolonged deadlock. Read more

Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, has made it clear he would like the job, but the wide range of parties that back his coalition are holding back from endorsing him for fear his departure could trigger a snap national election. .

“If there is a game plan ready for ‘after Draghi’, then Operation Draghi is doable,” former prime minister Matteo Renzi and leader of the ruling Italia Viva party told La Stampa newspaper.

“No one will accept the loss of such a valued prime minister without having certainty about the future (of the government),” he added.

Renzi met with centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader Enrico Letta on Friday morning to discuss the situation. Letta was also expected to speak with right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini in the coming hours, a PD source said.

BERLUSCONI’S OFFER

Salvini’s hands are currently tied because the centre-right bloc, which includes the League, agreed to back former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s efforts to secure enough votes to become president himself, despite his health fragile, his past sex scandals and a previous conviction for tax evasion.

One of the men who orchestrated his Don Quixote candidacy admitted this week that his efforts appeared doomed, but Berlusconi himself has yet to admit defeat, preventing his allies from finding a less controversial candidate to the centre-left could also rally. Read more

Incumbent President Sergio Mattarella has ruled out accepting another seven-year term, but some politicians have suggested begging him to extend his term to allow Draghi to remain prime minister and continue his work of rebuilding the economy. after the COVID-19 health emergency. .

A poll for Sky news channel TG24 released on Friday said 65% of Italians would be happy to see Mattarella stay in power, while 57% said they would also be happy to see Draghi become president. However, 56.7% said they would prefer him to remain prime minister.

If Draghi becomes head of state, another prime minister would be immediately needed to ensure political instability does not jeopardize Italy’s bid for some 200 billion euros ($226.6 billion) of EU pandemic relief funds.

Former Prime Minister Renzi said that among the possible candidates were two technocrats, Justice Minister Marta Cartabia and Vittorio Colao, Minister of Technical Innovation.

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Editing by William Maclean

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