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international

First round of Italy's presidential election ends with no results


Italy's parliament gathered in a joint session of both houses on Monday for the first round of voting to elect the country's new president to replace Sergio Mattarella, whose term will end on Feb. 3.

ROME, Jan. 24 -- Casting their votes were some 1,008 "grand electors," namely all the members of the parliament plus 58 representatives chosen by regional councils.

With a large majority of blank ballots among all those registered at the end of the day, no majority was found on any name.

The outcome of this first round was largely expected since no official candidate was backed by both alliances -- centre-left and centre-right -- holding the most parliamentary seats and currently governing the country together in the coalition cabinet.

According to the Italian constitution, a majority of two-thirds in the first three rounds of voting is required to elect a president, followed by a simple majority, or at least 505 votes, from the fourth on.

The parliament in the joint session of both houses will keep gathering this week to hold new rounds of voting until a candidate gathers enough support.

The seven-year term of President Sergio Mattarella will expire on Feb. 3.

The president in Italy is a traditional ceremonial figure that plays a balancing role within the institutional landscape, although the president presides over the Superior Council of the Judiciary and the Supreme Council of Defence.

However, the role becomes crucial in cases of broad political instability, since the president is tasked with helping solve major deadlocks between the government and the parliament.

The next one will be the 13th president of the Italian Republic. 

The president selects a new prime minister candidate when the cabinet loses the confidence of the chambers and resigns; and, in case of no agreement among members of parliament on a new executive, the president would dissolve the parliament and call for new general elections.

For these reasons, the president is usually chosen among figures that all political forces perceive as non-partisan, but at the same time someone with broad political experience and deep knowledge of the constitution.

The election has been preceded by intense talks between the country's two main political blocks in parliament, the centre-left led by the Five Star Movement and Democratic Party and the centre-right led by the right-wing League and Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

The process is being followed attentively by Italian media and people as usual, and there might be additional reasons for that this time.

Mattarella has in fact played a visible role at a social level in the last two years, dispensing reassuring messages that helped the country navigate through the difficult pandemic phase.

Secondly, the next elections to renew the parliament and therefore form the new government are scheduled in spring 2023. In case Draghi will move to the Quirinale presidential palace, early elections might be called one year ahead of the natural end of the legislature.

Xinhua

Published : January 25, 2022