At 80, Italy president Sergio Mattarella ready to serve another term

After coalition parties failed to agree on a compromise candidate for the job, Italian President Sergio Mattarella consented to serve a second term.

After six days of tense voting in Rome, the 80-year-old emerged as the most popular candidate.

He had expressed a wish to resign, but local media said that Prime Minister Mario Draghi persuaded him to stay for the sake of Italy’s “stability.”

Later on Saturday, he is anticipated to be formally re-elected.

Minister for Regional Affairs Mariastella Gelmini praised Mr Mattarella’s “feeling of responsibility and his loyalty to the country and its institutions” in announcing his decision to stay in office.

After seven rounds of voting failed to produce an alternate candidate, the parties in Italy’s ruling coalition agreed to re-elect Mr Mattarella on Saturday, revealing serious differences in Mr Draghi’s broad coalition government.

The Italian presidency is decided by a secret vote of 1,009 Senators, MPs, and regional delegates, with the first candidate receiving two-thirds of the vote declaring the winner.

After several lawmakers withdrew from voting and candidates put forward by the ruling parties failed to garner enough support, Mr. Mattarella emerged as the compromise candidate.

According to Antonio Tajani, national coordinator for the centre-right Forza Italia party, Mr Mattarella’s endorsement was the one thing that most MPs agreed on.

“Mattarella has done an outstanding job,” Mr Tajani remarked. “It is right that the point of balance is still him in the absence of a political accord on other persons.”

It’s unclear whether the 80-year-old intends to complete his seven-year tenure, with some in Italy speculating that he would step down after the Italian elections in 2023, allowing Mr Draghi to take his position.

The Italian presidency is mostly ceremonial, but its ability to dissolve parliament, appoint new prime ministers, and deny mandates to weak coalitions gives it significant authority in times of political crisis.

As Italian politics has become more fragmented in recent years, Mr Matarella’s role has been increasingly essential, and many in Italian politics have praised him as a stabilising influence at a time when multiple government coalitions have disintegrated.

Last year, he intervened to avert another political crisis triggered by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s resignation over the country’s reaction to the coronavirus, appointing Mr Draghi as his successor.

Mr. Mattarella stated at the time that Italy need a “high-profile government” to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak and the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.

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