Mattarella referee among Italian political turmoil for other seven years

Lawmakers voting for Presidential election – Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Parliament)

Bruxelles, 29 Jan 2022 – A plebiscite of 759 votes (quorum was 505). Sergio Mattarella was re-elected President of the Italian Republic at the eighth scrutiny, after a week of political turmoil, defections, withdrawal of candidacies and back downs. Sworn ceremony is expected next February 3rd.

Status quo is the real winner of this election, then, as none of the political leaders and lawmakers could agree on alternative candidates: Berlusconi had actually no chances of being voted and withdrew his candidacy, former president of the Chamber of deputies, centrist Pier Ferdinando Casini, also backed down, head of Italian Intelligence, Elisabetta Belloni, was considered by the left unfit: as Matteo Renzi (Italia Viva leader and former PM) put it “In Egypt and Russia only secret a services chief becomes president, I do not consider these countries among western democracies”. The symbol of antifascism, an icon for all Italians, Auschwitz survivor Liliana Segre proposed by former PM Conte, wasn’t even taken into consideration.

Political turmoil and general election campaign already started: the right wing fell apart with Lega Nord backing down and voting for Mattarella re-election infuriating the far-right Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy); the internal split inside Five Stars Movement with former Premier Giuseppe Conte is distancing from Luigi Di Maio (Minister of Foreign Affairs), the inability of all political parties to find a point of convergence for a new candidate to be elected to the second highest State charge (Italy is not a presidential Republic, but a Parliamentary one where the Prime Minister is the head of the executive).

Italian constitution prevents a second mandate for the presidency of the republic. But some lawmakers said Mattarella-bis as second re-election after that of Giorgio Napolitano, could ‘normalise’ the anomaly and this way change de facto the constitutional dictate. And there’re also those, among party leaders and minsters, who talk of changing the constitution to allow people to directly elect the President. A sign electoral campaign started, but also that politics are not focusing on the actual reforms needed and choosing populist style agenda to win the attention of the wider public.

Sergio Mattarella, who did not aim to a second mandate, was already relocating to a new house in Rome. He will have now to ask a u-turn of the van much pictured over these days with ironic posts and meme on twitter, loaded with mattress and furniture…back to the Quirinale: politics, much more than common citizens, need his wise balance in view of next electoral battle.

Here his short speech of acceptance: let’s say the truth, as he is 80, he does not look very excited having to spend the next seven years inside the Quirinal Palace,

“The tough days we went through for the election of the President of the Republic during the severe state of emergency we are still in on the front of public health, economy and social care, are a call to sense of responsibility and respect for the Parliament. These circumstances impose to not give up responsibility and duties and, obviously, must prevail over other considerations and different personal aims, with the commitment to making sense of the expectations and hopes of our citizens”, said Mattarella with a mournful face…