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Sergio Mattarella re-elected as Italian president for a second term

<i>CNN</i><br/>Italian President Sergio Mattarella during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on March 19
Italian President Sergio Mattarella during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour on March 19

By Livia Borghese, CNN

Italy’s current president Sergio Mattarella has been re-elected for a second mandate, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Robert Fico, announced Saturday.

Mattarella received 759 out of a possible 1009 votes from “great electors” — the members of parliament and regional representatives charged with electing the president in a process that does not involve the public — at the eighth ballot of voting.

His re-election marks just the second time in history that an Italian president has served a second term. In 2013, Giorgio Napolitano was the first to serve a second term since Italy becoming a republic in 1946, but he resigned after two years in 2015.

Mattarella, 80, became president in 2015 and had previously ruled out staying in office after his seven-year term expires on February 3. However, Italy’s ruling parties failed to agree on a new candidate after a chaotic week of voting that began on Monday.

Earlier on Saturday, they said they were in agreement that Mattarella should remain president ahead of the eighth round of voting.

Following the vote, Fico and Senate speaker Elisabetta Casellati went to the Presidential palace, or Quirinale, to inform Mattarella of the result, which he accepted. A formal swearing-in ceremony will be held next week.

“The difficult days in the election of Republic’s President amid the serious emergency we are all going through — in health, economic and social terms — call for a sense of responsibility and respect for the Parliament’s decision,” Mattarella wrote on his Facebook page after the results of the election.

“These conditions require one to not refuse the duty one is called for,” he added. “And, naturally, this should take precedent over other considerations and different personal goals — with the commitment to handle the expectations and hopes of our citizens.”

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the re-election of Mattarella was “fantastic news for Italians,” in a press release, adding that he was “grateful to the President for his choice to support the very strong will of Parliament to re-elect him for a second term.”

Leader of the right-wing League party and member of the government coalition, Matteo Salvini, told reporters after the election that he had already requested a meeting with Draghi “to speak about the many tasks that the government has to face.”

Salvini had previously presented other candidates as potential options for president, but none of them received the necessary absolute majority of votes.

He then confirmed Mattarella as his choice before the eighth ballot, saying “Italians don’t deserve more days of confusion,” adding, “I have made numerous proposals, all of a high level, all rejected by the left.”

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was also previously a potential presidential candidate, said, “out of a sense of responsibility and also in the interest of the country, I renounced my candidacy, also to favor a unified solution.”

“Unity today can only be found around the figure of President Sergio Mattarella, from whom we know we are asking for a great sacrifice,” Berlusconi added ahead of the eighth round of voting.

“Mattarella represents the (country) unity, I am very happy with this choice,” said Enrico Letta, secretary of the center-left Democratic Party, speaking to reporters outside parliament on Saturday before the final round of voting.

Only the leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy Party, Giorgia Meloni, spoke out against Mattarella remaining in office, writing on Twitter after the election that the current president had been “forced into another term.”

Meloni, whose party has not joined the ruling coalition, has accused other parties of “bartering away” the presidency to ensure they can maintain the status quo until the end of the legislative session in 2023.

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CNN’s Mia Alberti and Jeevan Ravindran contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Europe/Mideast/Africa

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