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24.01.2022 09:57 News >> Draghi's Fate Hangs In Balance As Italy Begins Presidential Vote

Draghi's Fate Hangs In Balance As Italy Begins Presidential Vote

Sizable number of lawmakers are reluctant to back Draghi, as his promotion could lead to much weaker government or snap elections.

Italy's parliament was due Monday to start voting on a new president amid uncertainty over whether the man many see as the best for the job -- Prime Minister Mario Draghi -- will eventually land it.
"This is a referendum on Draghi," Francesco Galietti, the confounder and chief executive officer of Policy Sonar, a Rome-based consultancy, told Anadolu Agency.
"He is the only strong candidate. The other names that are circulating…are frankly underwhelming," he said.
The presidential election, which is often compared to a papal conclave because it is just as unpredictable and rife with intrigue, is in the hands of just over 1,000 national and regional lawmakers. They will vote daily, via secret ballots, starting at 3 p.m. local time (1400GMT).
In the first three rounds, a two-thirds majority is needed, while a simple majority suffices from the fourth. Most analysts expect the first three ballots to be inconclusive.
"Draghi is one of the options on the table," the head of the center-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, told public broadcaster RAI on Sunday, adding he expected a breakthrough on a bipartisan candidate "within the next 48 or at most 72 hours."
Draghi, a former head of the European Central Bank who was credited for doing "whatever it takes" to save the euro, has had some success in restoring stability and raising Italy's international standing since he became prime minister in February last year, leading a grand coalition.
That record has made him a natural candidate for president -- a largely ceremonial role in Italy but who is also a key power broker who picks prime ministers, calls elections and discreetly influences government policy.
Draghi would likely reassure the European Union and financial markets, who would rely on him to watch that the nearly 200 billion euros (US$227 billion) Italy is due to receive from Brussels in pandemic recovery aid is spent responsibly.
But his promotion would throw open the question of a replacement prime minister -- a difficult choice that could bring about a much weaker government or snap elections if no agreement is found.
Therefore, a sizable number of lawmakers are reluctant to back him, especially those who have no re-election prospects and would lose a pension if parliament is dissolved before September. Many hail from the populist Five Star Movement.
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who halted his controversial presidential bid on Saturday, urged Draghi to stay as premier until the end of the parliamentary term in 2023, ostensibly to avoid disrupting government reforms. Matteo Salvini of the far-right League party has echoed this call.
To break the impasse, some have proposed reappointing President Sergio Mattarella, whose term runs out on Feb. 3. But the 80-year-old has repeatedly said he wants to stand down.
Other contenders include Pier Ferdinando Casini, a former speaker of the lower house of parliament; Giuliano Amato, an ex-premier and Constitutional Court judge; and Justice Minister Marta Cartabia who would become Italy's first female president. -



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