Tuesday. 18.06.2024

Italian deputies have re-elected Sergio Mattarella as president, ending a week of quarrelling between the nation's political parties.

In the eighth round of voting, Mattarella got the required absolute majority of at least 505 votes from lawmakers and regional representatives, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Robert Fico, announced.

It had been unclear in previous days whether the 80-year-old head of state would stand for a second seven-year term. He had initially pushed back against the idea.

But after the seventh round on voting earlier on Saturday delivered another inconclusive result, Mattarella agreed to run for a second term and secured to support of the majority of parties.

Ballots were still being counted so there was no official result yet. However, a majority of political parties had agreed to back Mattarella in the eighth round.

"I want to say a big thank you to President Mattarella for his decision, which is a decision of generosity for Italy. It is a beautiful day for Italy," said Partito Democratico party leader Enrico Letta prior to the vote.

Italy's painstaking presidential election and the Covid-19 crisis demand a sense of responsibility and respect for parliament, Mattarella said upon his re-election in Rome.

"These conditions force us not to shirk the duties that call," Mattarella asserted.

These must take priority above other considerations and personal views, Mattarella continued. He also spoke of an obligation to the "expectations and hopes of fellow citizens."

On Twitter, several top politicians congratulated Mattarella on his re-election.

Current term ends 3 February

"Congratulations to Sergio Mattarella for his re-election as Italian president. I firmly believe that Italy will continue to contribute constructively to the growth of the EU," the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, wrote on Twitter.

Mattarella's current term ends on February 3, after which he will be sworn in again, according to media reports.

The Sicilian native was considered popular during his first term - both with many citizens and in politics.

This year's presidential election pushed Italy to the brink of political chaos.

After the withdrawal of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi from the race for the highest office in the state, negotiations between party leaders for a possible candidate intensified.

But many lawmakers had been submitting blank ballots since Monday because the centre-left and centre-right parties could not agree on a joint candidate.

Draghi, the prime minister, was considered the favourite for the role. However, since he cannot hold both positions, many politicians had wanted Mattarella to stay in office so as not to endanger Draghi's technocratic government, which has been praised for its public health and economic policies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Keeping Mattarella in the Quirinal Palace and Draghi in Palazzo Chigi is the only way to save Italy from madness and lack of political leadership," former prime minister Matteo Renzi tweeted before the vote.

The Italian president is mainly tasked with ceremonial matters. However, the person in the top job can wield big power at times , including by halting legislation, dissolving parliament and thus initiating new elections, and approving or preventing the appointment of ministers.

Incumbent Sergio Mattarella elected president of Italy