Italy’s parliament is set on Saturday to re-appoint outgoing President Sergio Mattarella to end a six-day stalemate on the choice of new head of state.
Mattarella, 80, had repeatedly said he did not want a second go at the seven-year presidency, but political parties turned to him after multiple failed attempts to find a successor.
Members of Italy’s ruling grand coalition — stretching from the center-left Democratic Party to the hard-right League — agreed on this choice in a closed-door meeting, two party sources said.
The solution — due to be ratified by a parliamentary vote starting at 4.30 p.m. (1530GMT) — means Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who himself had presidential ambitions, will continue leading this coalition government.
“Keeping Mattarella in the Quirinale (presidential palace) and Draghi in the Chigi (prime ministerial palace) is the only way to preserve Italy from harebrained follies and lack of political direction,” ex-premier Matteo Renzi said on Facebook.
Mattarella, a former Christian democrat minister and constitutional court judge who went into politics after his brother was slain by the Sicilian mafia, would be the second president in a row, after Giorgio Napolitano, to serve a second term.
In Italy, presidents are the cornerstone of the political system, while prime ministers change almost yearly. Presidents name prime ministers, call elections, influence government policy discreetly and can veto laws or ministerial appointments.
Presidents are elected by 1,009 national and regional lawmakers, in a process compared to a papal conclave because it is unpredictable and rife with intrigue. Pressure was mounting to wrap up the process as soon as possible.
The presidential election, which started on Monday, has paralyzed Italy’s politics amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic, public concern about rising energy prices, the need to implement reforms linked to EU funds, and the risk of war between Russia and Ukraine.