On monday, after the hesitant retirement of the three-time ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s, the first round of voting for Italy’s next president begins without a distinct slate of candidates, a condition that is expected to last until Thursday.
Italy’s parliamentarians and a smaller group of special regional representatives will vote for a successor to Sergio Mattarella as Italy’s president, a primarily ceremonial job that yet demands political skill and constitutional expertise to navigate Italy through its regular political crises.
Premier Mario Draghi has expressed interest in running for the position, but support within the wide ruling coalition is divided by fears that his transition from head of government to head of state could result in an early election.
Berlusconi’s controversial candidacy was withdrawn on Saturday, stating that he had enough votes to win but that the country could not afford political tensions. Berlusconi, 85, has been undergoing tests at a hospital in Milan in recent days, according to his office.
Over the weekend, political parties had internal discussions, but kept the names of potential candidates close to their vests. With the current legislative mandate expiring in 2023, the vote for Italy’s 13th president will also set the stage for the country’s next political election, as well as the recurring political dispute over new electoral regulations.
While the behind-the-scenes haggling continued, it was looking increasingly likely that the initial rounds of voting would take place with blank ballots or fantasy names.
To win in the first three rounds, you must get an absolute majority of the votes. Starting Thursday, though, a candidate can win with a simple majority.
Draghi has yet to be officially named as a presidential contender by any political party.