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Italy's parliament holds new ballot, no deal in sight

29/1/2022 18:39
        Italy's parliament voted for a
        sixth day running on Saturday to elect a new president, but the
        parties remained deeply divided over a possible candidate, with
        the leaders struggling to control their own lawmakers.
        
        The week-long search to find a replacement for Sergio
        Mattarella, whose seven-year mandate expires on Feb. 3, has laid
        bare the fragility of Italian politics and highlighted a failure
        of leadership in the main centre-right and centre-left blocs.
        
        "Seeking a name in the chaos," top-selling daily Corriere
        della Sera said on its front page headline. "More vetoes than
        votes," Catholic daily L'Avvenire wrote.
        
        The heads of both the rightist League party and 5-Star
        Movement, which is allied to the centre-left, said late Friday
        they wanted a woman to become president for the first time and
        indicated that a deal was at hand.
        
        Political sources said both groups were backing Elisabetta
        Belloni, who heads the secret services, but the news provoked a
        sharp backlash from other parties, splintering the centre-right
        bloc and sowing dissent in 5-Star ranks.
        
        The president is a powerful figure in Italy, who gets to
        appoint prime ministers and is often called on to resolve
        political crises in the euro zone's third-largest economy, where
        governments survive barely a year on average.
        
        Unlike in the United States or France, where heads of state
        get elected in a popular vote, in Italy, 1,009 parliamentarians
        and regional representatives chose the winner in a secret ballot
        https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/italian-presidential-elections-shrouded-parliamentary-secrecy-2022-01-13,
        which party leaders sometimes struggle to control.
        
        
        
        MATTARELLA ADVANCES
        
        Threatening to ignore their leaders and take charge of the
        situation themselves, lawmakers have been increasingly voting
        for Mattarella in the ballots, despite the fact that he himself
        has ruled out a second mandate.
        
        In Friday's second vote, he received 336 ballots, up from
        160 on Thursday and 125 on Wednesday. "Parliament wants
        Mattarella," La Repubblica daily said in a frontpage headline.
        
        It remains far from clear whether Mattarella, 80, would
        accept another term, but many lawmakers believe his
        reappointment is the best way to maintain the status quo and
        enable the government to re-focus on battling the COVID-19
        pandemic.
        
        The repeated failure to find any sort of consensus has
        poisoned the political atmosphere, with potentially dangerous
        consequences for the stability of the broad coalition backing
        Prime Minister Mario Draghi's government.
        
        Draghi himself has made clear he would like the job of
        president, but the main parties have so far refused to put his
        name to a vote, partly out of fears that the abrupt switch of
        roles could cause the fragile government to implode.
        
        As voting resumed on Saturday, no party orders had filtered
        down on which way lawmakers should vote, with the various blocs
        apparently in disarray.
        
        5-Star chief Giuseppe Conte did not show up at a meeting of
        centre-left leaders while the centre-right Forza Italia party
        said it would no longer seek a solution in partnership with its
        traditional allies the League and Brothers of Italy.
        
        



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