NEWS » Italy's new President - Sicilian Sergio Mattarella

Italy's new President - Sicilian Sergio Mattarella

Italy has a new President of the Republic: the Sicilian Sergio Mattarella, previously a constitutional court judge and a veteran centre-left politician. Mattarella is the 12th president since World War Two.  

After Giorgio Napolitano resigned, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi chose Mattarella as his candidate. After three inconclusive rounds of voting in which a two-thirds majority was needed, the PD’s candidate Mattarella was elected at the fourth voting. 

The role of President of the Republic is mainly a representative one, but in times of instability his power to call for new elections, and choose prime ministers, can be crucial.

Mattarella, 73, who is little known to most Italians, obtained 665 votes and he was sworn in for a seven-year term.

Mattarella is the first Sicilian president of the Republic. His career in politics began after his brother, Piersanti, was killed by the Sicilian Mafia in 1980. Mattarella's political roots were in Italy's Christian Democrat party (no longer existing) which was formed, after the war, along with others, by his father Bernardo, an anti-fascist.

In 1990, to protest against a decree that favoured Berlusconi's media empire, Mattarella resigned as education minister. He served as defence minister in two different centre-left governments, from 1999 to 2001.

Immediately after being sworn in as president of the Republic Mattarella visited the “Fosse Ardeatine”, the site in Rome where German troops killed 335 Italians in World War Two. In his speech he emphasised the fact that Europe must remain united in the battle against terrorism as the allied nations did to defeat Nazi’s racism, anti-Semitism, and totalitarianism.

Centre-right rival Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party appeared in disagreement after the vote which appointed Mattarella as President of the Republic. Berlusconi accused Renzi of having betrayed him by not giving him a role in choosing the candidate. Therefore, Berlusconi had ordered his party to cast blank ballots. More than 30 members of Berlusconi’s party refused to follow his suggestion, opening a breach in “forza Italia”.

After Mattarella’s elections the reforms agreed upon between Berlusconi and Renzi, the so called “patto del Nazareno” seem to be at risk. It will all depend on how many supporters Renzi will have from other parties, previously against him

Giulia Lombardo

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