Italian presidential election: No winner in the first round

As of: 01/24/2022 11:28 p.m

The election process took six hours, but Italy still does not have a new president. Most MPs abstained because the parties have not yet been able to agree on a common candidate.

By Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Studio Rome

Head of State wanted! The election of a successor to Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella failed in the first round – as expected. The major factions, including the Five Star Movement, the social-democratic PD and the right-wing Lega, had called on their electors to abstain.

Jorg Seisselberg
ARD-Studio Rom

Background: Timid attempts to agree on a cross-party candidate have so far failed. In the end, two-thirds of the 1,008 eligible voters abstained in the first ballot. 672 handed in so-called “schede bianche”, white slips of paper.

Parties are looking for common candidates

Parallel to the vote, which lasted more than six hours, the major parties in Rome increased their efforts to agree on a joint proposal.

The current prime minister, Mario Draghi, is still the favorite for a cross-party solution. According to the Ansa news agency, Draghi held talks during the evening with the leader of the Social Democrats, Enrico Letta, the leader of the Five Star Movement, Giuseppe Conte, and the leader of the Lega, Matteo Salvini.

Italy’s Prime Minister Draghi is considered the favourite. He could be elected in the fourth ballot on Thursday.

Image: via REUTERS

The biggest hurdle for Draghi is the question: Who could take over the leadership of the government in his place? It is expected that if the parties agree on Draghi as President, agreements will also be reached on who will succeed Draghi at the head of the government.

Possible decision on Thursday

The day for a possible decision is Thursday, when the fourth ballot takes place. Then the absolute majority is sufficient for the election, i.e. 50 percent of those entitled to vote plus one vote. A two-thirds majority is required for the first three rounds.

1008 electors, members of parliament from the Senate and Chamber of Deputies and representatives of the regions are entitled to vote. From Wednesday the number of those entitled to vote will increase to 1009, when a recently deceased MP will be replaced by a successor.

Symbolic voting in the first ballot

Some electors used the meaningless first ballot for symbolic votes. For example, the outgoing President Mattarella, who will not stand again, received 16 votes, nine votes went to Justice Minister Marta Cartabia, who has repeatedly been mentioned as a possible first female head of state in recent weeks.

The lawyer Paolo Maddalena, who has made a name for himself as a public prosecutor with criminal proceedings on environmental crimes, received the most votes (36) in the first ballot. Maddalena was proposed by a group that split from the Five Star Movement. As usual in Rome with meaningless first ballots, show stars and athletes got votes this time too. Among others, goalkeeper legend Dino Zoff and talk show host Bruno Vespa were voted for.

No winner at the start of the presidential election in Italy

Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Rome, 24.1.2022 10:32 p.m

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