Mattarella stays put: Italy opts for status quo

After a week of back and forthing, Italy's President Sergio Mattarella has been re-elected for a second term. The 80-year-old wanted to step down, but the parties were unable to agree on a successor and Prime Minister and favourite Mario Draghi also failed to secure enough votes several times. In the end, Mattarella agreed to stay. Commentators see the overall result as favourable but are concerned by the way it came about.

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Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

The only one holding Italy together now

For the Aargauer Zeitung, the main thing that emerged was that the 'government of national unity' is not so united after all:

“For six days and seven rounds of voting, the individual government parties tried to outwit each other in the election of a new president: tactical games, lacking willingness to engage in dialogue, personal vanities and jealousies and, last but not least, the frightening political cluelessness of certain protagonists - above all Lega leader Matteo Salvini, for whom the election of Mattarella's successor turned into a personal disaster - made the situation seem almost hopeless. Even the fall of the government and new elections were in the air.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Reassuring for other countries

This was the Italian way of leaving things as they were, comments Bill Emmott, former editor-in-chief of The Economist, in La Stampa:

“Seen from abroad, the question of who would next occupy the Quirinale was a perfect Italian thriller. First the exotic drama of Silvio Berlusconi's campaign, followed by his withdrawal and a series of Machiavellian intrigues. Then the spectacle of endless voting with blank ballot slips and a series of names thrown haphazardly into the ring. Finally, a reasonably happy ending that reassures other countries. If the world was happy with Sergio Mattarella as president and Mario Draghi as prime minister in 2021, why shouldn't the same be true in 2022?”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Draghi can continue to govern

Mario Draghi's not switching posts to become president is good news for Italy, writes Handelsblatt's Rome correspondent Christoph Wermke:

“Italy is still in the midst of its fourth Covid wave. Its industry is groaning under pressure of high energy prices and needs state support if recovery is not to be jeopardised. On top of that, the next tranche of aid billions from Brussels will soon arrive. These funds must be invested sensibly - and not allowed to seep away into the bureaucratic machinery or even the hands of the Mafia. The government must continue to initiate reforms, for example of the complicated tax system. ... In his year in office Draghi has proven that he can govern the country and cares little about party politics ... . He should make good use of the time he has.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Election farce bolsters the far right

The fact that the parties in the government coalition were unable to agree on a common candidate will benefit the Fratelli d'Italia, the Financial Times comments:

“Amid these self-interested calculations, one party is charting a distinctive path - the far-right Brothers of Italy, led by Giorgia Meloni. It is the only major party that refused to join Draghi's government, and opinion polls show that it is at present the most popular party on the rightwing side of the political spectrum. Italy may be scarcely a year away from deciding whether to install its first radical right prime minister of the postwar era.”