English Speaking Here – New italian president Mattarella

President Sergio Mattarella by Rae Staben

Italy elected a new president, Sergio Mattarella, on January 31.  Mattarella was a Constitutional Court justice.  Though the election required four rounds of voting, Mattarella’s election went more smoothly than expected given Italy’s past presidential elections.  For instance, the Italian Parliament could not successfully elect a new president to succeed President Giorgio Napolitano two years ago.  Napolitano agreed to stay for another term, and resigned this month.

Mattarella had the support of Italy’s Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, as well as the Democratic Party, the opposition Left, and the Ecology and Freedom Party.  However, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi resisted his Mattarella’s nomination. Berlusconi’s center-right opposition party cast blank ballots because they felt Renzi should have worked with Berlusconi to choose a presidential candidate. Even the Catholic Church has approved Mattarella’s election.

Last year, Berlusconi and Renzi agreed to work together to pass electoral law and reform in the Senate, with the goal of making governments more stable in Italy It is unclear how Renzi’s support of Mattarella will impact Renzi’s reform work with Berlusconi.

Mattarella visited the Ardeatine Caves, a memorial to the victims of Rome’s Nazi occupation.  There, he delivered pro-European integration comments; he praised the wartime cooperation of nations to defeat the Nazis, and called for similar unity now “to defeat those who want to drag us into a new season of terror.”  Mattarella swornes in for a seven-year term on February 3 .

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