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POLITICS

Voting for new Italian president to begin on January 24th

Italy's parliament and regional representatives will begin voting on January 24th for a new head of state, officials said Tuesday, with Prime Minister Mario Draghi the favourite to be the next president.

Voting for new Italian president to begin on January 24th
Photo by YARA NARDI / POOL / AFP

The role of Italy’s head of state is largely ceremonial except in times of political crisis, when the president plays a crucial arbitrating role.

Roberto Fico, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, convened a session for Monday, January 24th at 3pm Central European Time “for the election of the president of the Republic”, a statement from the lower parliamentary chamber said.

President Sergio Mattarella, an 80-year-old former judge, will complete his seven-year term on February 3rd.

There are no official candidates yet to succeed him, but Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief who was parachuted in a year ago to lead a national unity government, is widely considered the favourite.

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Draghi, 74, has not confirmed his interest but at an end-of-year press conference last month, left the door open to a move to the Quirinale presidential palace.

Former prime minister and billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi has also been sounding out support for his own candidacy, although he faces significant opposition.

The winner is chosen by secret ballot of around 1,000 electors comprising senators, members of the Chamber of Deputies and representatives of Italy’s 20 regions.

They must secure at least two-thirds of votes in the first three rounds, or more than half thereafter.

Other potential candidates include former lower house speaker Pier Ferdinando Casini, EU commissioner and ex-premier Paolo Gentiloni, former Socialist premier Giuliano Amato, and Justice Minister Marta Cartabia – who if successful would be Italy’s first female head of state.

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POLITICS

Italy plans to stop ‘revolving door’ between judges and politicians

Italian lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a planned reform aimed at stopping the 'revolving door' between justice and government, as part of wider changes to the country's creaking judicial system.

Italy plans to stop 'revolving door' between judges and politicians

The proposed reform, which still has to be approved by the Italian Senate in the coming weeks, imposes significant limitations on the number of magistrates, prosecutors and judges looking to go into politics – a frequent move in Italy.

Under the submitted changes, a magistrate wishing to stand for election, whether national, regional or local, will not be able to do so in the region where they have worked over the previous three years.

At the end of their mandate, magistrates who have held elective positions will not be able to return to the judiciary – they will be moved to non-jurisdictional posts at, for example, the Court of Auditors or the Supreme Court of Cassation, according to local media reports.

Furthermore, magistrates who have applied for elective positions but have not been successful for at least three years will no longer be able to work in the region where they ran for office. 

The reform is part of a wider programme of changes to Italy’s tortuous judicial system. This is required by the European Commission to unlock billions of euros in the form of post-pandemic recovery funds.

Public perception of the independence of Italian courts and judges is among the worst in Europe, according to the EU’s justice scoreboard.

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