Thursday, March 23

‘Not serious anymore’: No winner in round 7 as Italy’s lawmakers fail to pick president

As Italian political leaders scrambled Saturday to reach an agreement to choose Italy’s next president, there seemed to be a push for President Sergio Mattarella to reconsider his refusal to serve a second term as head of state, a role meant to unify Italy. the nation.

Members of parliament and regional delegates voted on Saturday for the seventh time since voting for a head of state began earlier in the week.

Several party leaders said their lawmakers would either abstain or cast blank votes, effectively dooming any chance that the round would return at least 505 votes, representing a simple majority of eligible Grand Electors, for any candidate, the majority needed for election. victory.

Round after round of unsuccessful votes since Monday have made clear the deep rivalries between the parties in Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s broad coalition, formed nearly a year ago to guide Italy through the pandemic and guide economic recovery with the help billions of dollars promised in Europe. union funds.

Rallying rivals or even allies to back a name for president has so far proven difficult.

A day after a candidate from the center-right bloc fell short of the necessary majority, right-wing Lega Nord leader Matteo Salvini said Mattarella, 80, should reconsider his refusal of a second seven-year term.

In Friday night’s voting, Mattarella garnered by far the most votes, despite his repeated insistence in recent weeks that he considers he is done with the largely ceremonial role.

“We think that it is no longer serious to continue with the ‘no’s’ and the crossed vetoes,” said Salvini, who heads the anti-immigrant League party and has ambitions to be the country’s next prime minister.

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He said it was time to “tell the president to reconsider.”

Without citing sources, State TV’s RaiNews24 said that Draghi was contacting various political leaders to endorse Mattarella.

There is a risk that a prolonged deadlock over elections and the spectacle of political bickering as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic could damage Italy’s international credibility, which the Draghi government has bolstered.

In the latest rift between the allies, the far-right leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, was quick to attack Salvini’s lobbying for Mattarella.

“Salvini proposes that everyone go beg Mattarella to have another term as president of the republic,” Meloni tweeted. “I don’t want to believe it.”

As the only leader of a major opposition party, Meloni has indicated she would be happy to see Draghi, whose successful intervention as president of the European Central Bank to save the euro, become president.

That would free up the prime minister’s office and possibly create enough political instability to trigger the snap elections she wants.

As public wrangling unfolded, behind-the-scenes efforts continued to find a candidate who could help unify the nation by being “super parties,” or above the political fray.

One name touted for weeks has been Senator Pier Ferdinando Casini, whose various political identities seem to clash with the impartiality required of a head of state.

Early in his career, he was a staunch ally of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a conservative.

But Casini also formed his own pro-Catholic centrist party, and won the Senate seat he currently holds with a ticket that included the Democrats, Italy’s largest left-wing party.

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