Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sergio Mattarella Is Elected Italian President

Sergio Mattarella was today elected President of the Italian Republic to complete the nearly six years remaining on Giorgio Napolitano’s unprecedented second term.  The 89 year-old Napolitano agreed in 2013 to be reelected after the grand electors failed to reach a majority for other candidates, but indicated he would resign before his term expired.

The newly-elected twelfth President of Italy, 73, a Sicilian and former Constitutional Court Judge with strong anti-mafia credentials and a history of placing principle above party, is the author of Italy’s previous parliamentary election law that was replaced by the current one that was subsequently declared unconstitutional.  Mattarella is a former member of the Christian Democratic Party, the center-right party that dominated Italian post-war politics until the early 1990s and that had prevented the Communist Party, the strongest communist party in Western Europe, from winning national parliamentary elections.  He served in the cabinet of several governments in the 1980s and 90s, with various portfolios.  After the dissolution of the Christian Democratic Party in the early 90s, he joined the center-left Democratic Party, the currently ruling party that put forward his name as a presidential candidate.

The New Center Right Party, which is a junior coalition member of the governing Democratic Party’s center-left-center-right executive, joined with the Democratic Party in voting for Mattarella, while the main center-right party cast blank ballots and a smaller conservative party backed a different candidate, according to ANSA, the Italian news agency.  Nevertheless, ANSA reports all the parties’ grand electors, except those of the populists, gave Mattarella a long standing ovation and the main center-right party leader, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, sent him auguri (augurs, a traditional Italian well-wishing).

The President of the Italian Republic is Head of State and the arbiter of Italian politics.  He not only has the power to dissolve parliament and give a mandate to form a government, but returns any law he finds unconstitutional or not supported by the budget to Parliament.  The appointment of life senators and the granting of pardons are also among the President’s powers, in contrast to the claims of the liberal media, such as the Associated Press, that his role is “ceremonial,” or that his office has no political role.  President Mattarella will play a key role in the continued major fiscal, political and constitutional reforms being considered by the Italian Parliament, of which I shall post updates.

Auguri, Sergio Mattarella!

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