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Draghi hopes to emerge victorious from the crossroads of the presidential vote

Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi. / AFP

Parliamentarians and representatives of the regions participate this Monday in the first motion to elect the new head of State of Italy

MINOR DARIO Correspondent in Rome

The fate of Italy is from this Monday in the hands of the 1,008 parliamentarians and representatives of the regions who will have to elect the new president of the Republic once Sergio Mattarella’s term ends. That of the head of state is a position of vital importance in the country, since his institutional work is joined by the role of referee that he plays between the parties every time one of the usual political crises that spice up the lives of Italians breaks out. Mattarella, without going any further, in his seven years in office has had to ‘cook’ four different governments, the last of them led by Mario Draghi, precisely the man who seems to have the best chance of becoming his successor.

The current prime minister and former president of the European Central Bank (ECB) is the big favorite to be the new head of state. This “grandfather at the service of the institutions”, as he himself presented himself in December at his press conference at the end of the year, has more than enough competence, moral authority and international prestige to be elected Head of State, although his candidacy has one but: it would leave a hole in the government that would be difficult to fill.

Draghi now leads a Cabinet supported by a heterogeneous coalition made up of nine parties, which managed to agree to give life to the Executive in January 2021 due to the emergency of the pandemic and trust in the ‘superparts’ figure of the former president of the ECB. If in the end they choose to vote for Draghi as the new head of state, the parties will have to resolve a second equation: find him a substitute with guarantees as prime minister, although without him at the helm, the incentives to keep the government alive and the country could be forced to hold early elections.

road almost clear

Draghi’s path to the central Roman hill where the Quirinal Palace is located, the former residence of the Popes and where the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic is located today, has in any case been clearer after he announced on Saturday that Silvio Berlusconi will not stand as a candidate. At 85 years old, the four-time prime minister and leader of Forza Italia dreamed of putting the finishing touch to his political career by reaching the head of state, but he chose to throw in the towel when the accounts did not work out to be elected.

In addition to the votes of the conservative parties, Berlusconi needed to get about 50 more voters to get the ‘white smoke’ in the fourth vote, which would be held on Thursday and in which the quorum is reduced to an absolute majority. In the three previous motions it is necessary to achieve two thirds of the assembly. One will be held every day and it is estimated that they will last between four and five hours.

The tycoon announced that he was not appearing trying to save his honor, stating that “there were sufficient numbers for the election” and justifying his decision by “national responsibility.” Although he did not allege possible health problems, this Sunday it was learned that he had had to be admitted to a Milan hospital, apparently to undergo a routine check-up. The Forza Italia leader’s “step back” came on one condition: Draghi “must stay” as prime minister and “finish the job.” His ally in the conservative bloc and leader of the League, Matteo Salvini, was on the same line this Sunday, assuring that “it would be dangerous to remove Draghi” from the head of government.

Beyond the personal calculations and the crossed interests of the parties, in the debate that has been going on for months in Italy about who would be the most suitable person to reach the Presidency of the Republic, the voices that demand that the chosen one be, for the first time, a woman. In the event that this petition passes among the 1,008 voters, Marta Cartabia, current Minister of Justice and former president of the Constitutional Court, would have possibilities. His promotion options are also double.

“If Draghi’s candidacy finally prospers at the Quirinal, Cartabia could be a good option to replace him at the head of the Government,” says Marco Damilano, director of the weekly ‘L’Espresso’. Other names that could have a chance in the election of the head of state are those of Pierferdinando Casini, former leader of the Christian Democratic party Udc, and even Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic movement.

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