Correspondent in Rome
In Italy the game for the presidency of the Republic begins, with Mario Draghi (Rome, 74 years old) as the main candidate to succeed Sergio Mattarella (Palermo, Sicily), who will turn 80 in July. In the past, Mattarella had already announced that he would not do a second term in the Quirinal Palace, which should leave early February 2022. But since Mario Draghi became Prime Minister, numerous voices have been raised in various political and economic sectors raising the convenience of Mattarella extending his mandate until the next general elections, scheduled for March 2023 if the end of the legislature is reached. According to these sectors, with Mattarella in the Quirinal until that date, Mario Draghi’s continuity as prime minister would be allowed until the elections. Then, it seems clear that the former president of the European Central Bank could be Mattarella’s natural successor at the head of state, since today he is the main candidate, without any rival for now.
The surprise jumped this Wednesday, in what is already considered as the first act of the race to the Quirinal Palace, seat of the Presidency of the Republic. It took place at the Geronimo Stilton school in Rome. Mattarella has visited schools several times in his seven years in office, and it has been common for him to send young people messages of some importance. This time, he first explained to the schoolchildren that “the activity of the President of the Republic is very demanding.” Afterwards, he made his definitive farewell announcement: “My position ends in eight months, as you know the position of President of the Republic lasts seven years, I am old, in a few months I will be able to rest.”
Mattarella’s message has been immediately taken advantage of by the líder de la Liga, Matteo Salvini. You have already marked the path that is most convenient for your interests. He promotes Draghi to the presidency of the Republic, to succeed Mattarella: «February is very far away, now there are other emergencies, we do not have our candidates for the Quirinal. Certainly, if Prime Minister Draghi accepts the position, he will have our full support, “said Salvini. With these words, the message of the leader of the League is clear: in February it would be Chigi Palace vacant, seat of the head of government, if Draghi is elected by the parliament as president of the Republic. This would probably mean, as Salvini claims, go immediately to a general election.
The leader of the League wants elections to be held as soon as possible, since Fratelli d’Italia is eating ground, the party led by Giorgia Meloni. In voting intention, the center right is today the clear winner in Italy, according to polls. But if Meloni’s sorpasso (overtaking) occurs, it would be the leader of the center right. The far-right leader has not hidden in these days her aspiration to become the head of the Italian government. It would be a historical fact in Italy: For the first time a woman would access the position of prime minister in this country.
Reconstruction of the center left
On the opposite side, Enrico Letta, leader of the Democratic party, is fighting for the five-year legislature to reach its conclusion in 2023. Two fundamental reasons push Letta to not wanting early elections in 2022: On the one hand, Italy will then be in the period to carry out the reforms requested by the European Union, to access the loans and credits of the Recovery Fund (Next Generation EU). In total, Italy will invest 248,000 million euros in investments and reforms. On the other hand, Letta, bent on the difficult task of rebuilding the center-left, fears that in 2022 its alliance with the 5 Star Movement has not yet been consolidated. Letta has openly said that elections are won with alliances. And he only sees the possibility of a victory for the center-left if that alliance of the PD and the M5E, plus other small parties of the center-left, is formed.
Europe wants the continuity of Draghi
Europe is watching with great interest the political game now being played in Italy. The interest of Brussels is that Mario Draghi continues to lead the government until the end of the legislature, because they fully trust him as ensuring that Italy makes the best use of the Recovery Fund. But in Italian politics anything is possible. At stake is the next head of state. He will be the thirteenth president of the Italian Republic.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism