Italy

Italy starts process to elect new President


Published

The Italian Electoral College that will elect a new President started its work yesterday. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has proposed senior judge Sergio Mattarella (73) as the governing Democratic Party’s (PD) candidate. Another judge, Ferdinando Imposimato (78) was backed by the Five Star Movement.

Italy’s President is elected by an Electoral College made up of both houses of parliament and 58 representatives of the country’s 20 regions. Each region appoints three delegates, two representing the majority and one the opposition apart from Valle d’Aosta, which has one delegate. This gives a total of 1,009 ‘Grand Electors’ as they are known.

Under the Constitution, the winning candidate is required to gather a two-thirds majority of 674 votes in the first, second or third ballots. After that, an absolute majority of 506 votes is required.

In 2006 Giorgio Napolitano was elected in the fourth round with 543 votes (505 votes were needed in that election). In 2013 when all the main parties urged him to stay on to see the country through a period of political turmoil Napolitano was elected in the first round with 738 votes when 672 votes were needed for a win.

According to the ANSA news agency the Prime Minister has told his party to cast blank votes in the first three rounds. That means that in the fourth round his candidate will only need a straight majority of 506 votes. The PD holds 415 votes in parliament and 30 regional delegate votes to give them 445 votes. They will need an additional 61 votes, most of which they can probably get from other left wing parties.

They are less likely to gain votes from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia after Berlusconi said that he would not back Mattarella and accused Renzi of breaking the Nazareno Pact which was signed between the two parties in early 2014. However, it is a secret ballot and therefore no-one is clear where the votes might come from.

There was no quorum in the first round of voting yesterday so the ballot was declared void. There will be two more ballots today.

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