In Italy, a presidential election with an uncertain outcome

From the left to the far right via the 5-star Movement (M5S, anti-system), the presidential election has been the main subject of concern for Roman political staffs for several months. Although the deadline was rarely discussed in public until recently, no major recent decision has been made without taking it into account.

On February 3, 2022, the mandate of the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, will end and by this date, 1,009 electors (630 deputies, 321 senators and 58 delegates from the regions) are called upon to find him a successor. The first round of voting is due to take place on January 24 and the pressure is mounting, imperceptibly. Day after day, past or current leaders multiply cryptic declarations. For now, most of the battle is taking place behind the scenes, and the main favorites are speaking in veiled terms, with a luxury of precautions.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers In Italy, the succession of President Mattarella delights in “behind-the-scenes journalism”

In a parliamentary democracy like Italy, the choice of a head of state could be considered a mere formality. Nothing could be more wrong: everyone knows that, beyond this election, it is the survival of the current government coalition that is at stake.

Because, if the first character of the State is above all invested with a role of representation, the messages that he addresses to the chambers are weighed down with considerable weight. Above all, in crisis situations – and these are not uncommon in Italy – the Quirinal Palace suddenly becomes the center of all attention: it is indeed the president who leads the consultations with a view to forming a government. , setting the tempo as needed.

Moreover, the president has the weapon of the dissolution of the chambers, which it is often enough to agitate the threat to remove many blockages. Thus the last two occupants of the post, Giorgio Napolitano (2006-2015) and Sergio Mattarella (since 2015), have found themselves in charge more often than not. “The Quirinal is another dimension. In the past, there have been a few strange heads of government, but for the presidency, never. We only elected people with undeniable political depth”, underlines the historian Miguel Gotor, senator from 2013 to 2018 and current deputy for culture of the mayor of Rome.

The Mario Draghi question

The other characteristic of these polls is that nothing ever happens as planned: the chronicle of past presidential elections is strewn with countless twists, between games of dupes and offensives by snipers. Here, partisan affiliations are only one factor among others and old solidarities like annealed hatreds can suddenly reappear, so that the votes are uncertain until the end.

You have 57.21% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.