Presidential election in Italy: Berlusconi withdraws his candidacy

Status: 01/22/2022 10:55 p.m

Italy’s ex-Prime Minister Berlusconi will not stand in next week’s presidential election. After much deliberation, the 85-year-old announced that he had decided to give up his candidacy.

Two days before the presidential elections in Italy, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi withdrew from the race for the highest office. In an online meeting with other right-wing leaders, the 85-year-old said that while he had a chance for office, in a spirit of “national responsibility” he had asked those who nominated him for the election to remove his name from the list of candidates to delete.

“I will serve my country in a different way,” he announced. Now his Forza Italia party and the right-wing Lega and Fratelli d’Italia want to find and present another candidate to succeed Sergio Mattarella. The election begins Monday afternoon and is expected to last for days.

Processes still pending

Berlusconi campaigned for weeks, trying to get enough voters to vote to replace Mattarella as head of state. Pundits and political observers assumed, however, that Berlusconi, who is still dealing with lawsuits connected to his infamous “Bunga Bunga” sex parties more than a decade ago, would hardly get the necessary broad support for an election victory .

While the party leaders of Lega (Matteo Salvini) and Fratelli d’Italia (Giorgia Meloni) recently officially backed Berlusconi’s candidacy, the center-left parties firmly rejected a possible election of the 85-year-old. Giuseppe Conte of the Five Star Movement called for a “serious exchange” between the parties in search of a serious president. Lega boss Salvini meanwhile made it clear that the centre-right now had “the honor and responsibility to make his suggestions”.

Draghi could stand for election

The future Italian President will be elected from Monday by a panel of more than a thousand MPs, Senators and representatives of the regions. In the first three ballots, each of which takes one day, a two-thirds majority is required for victory; from the fourth ballot, an absolute majority is sufficient.

Even if it is a rather representative post, Italy’s president plays a central role in crisis situations. Incumbent Mattarella had to intervene several times to mediate in political crises.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi has also signaled an interest in the post. If he is elected, a new leader would have to be found for the unity government in the midst of the corona pandemic, or the parliamentary elections would have to be brought forward by a year.

Berlusconi says no to candidacy for president

Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Rome, 22.1.2022 10:05 p.m

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