Quirinale romance, part VI: the endless vote

The sixth vote to elect Italy’s head of State is underway after the president of the Senate Maria Elisabetta Casellati obtained less than four hundred preferences on the fifth call, stopping at 382 votes.

The center-right’s candidacy of the second office of the Republic provoked another split in the ruling coalition and let to the failure of the center-right blitz. PD, M5S, LEU and IV chose to abstain after having deserted the meeting requested by Matteo Salvini in the morning, while Lega, FDI and FI opted to give their support to Casellati anyway.

A way to count themselves albeit without nurturing great ambitions for success. Proof of this are the seventy-one “snipers” who prevented the former FI senator from reaching even just 453 votes and therefore from enjoying the full support of all the center-right grand electors. Moreover, the decision to sign the vote for Casellati with different words says a lot about the effective cohesion of the coalition.

The next few hours will tell whether the definitive failure of Salvini’s attempt to become kingmaker of the Quirinale game has been consummated on this point. The League secretary aimed to emerge strengthened from the fifth vote betting on the support of all the center-right gran electors, to play his chances later. This was not the case.

Under scrutiny were his negotiating tactics, which led him to flood the political tables with names to give the impression of wanting to disseminate false leads while completing a hidden design. From the initial squad made up of Letizia Moratti, Carlo Gordio and Marcello Pera to the president Casellati herself, passing through the various Giampiero Massolo and Sabino Cassese in the growing bewilderment of his own partners.

The truth is that Salvini has not yet been able to find the right candidate for the Quirinale, the one capable of growing consensus and breaking through in the other field by drawing the votes of the center-left. The reference is for the grand electors concentrated in the soft underbelly of the M5S, who in the meantime are held hostage by the internal row between Giuseppe Conte and Luigi Di Maio.

The latest attempt to put together the pieces of the center-right and center-left coalitions could be made in the name of Pier Ferdinando Casini. After that, when no center-right candidate has a real chance of being elected, the alternative will be a return to the two institutional figures who have ruled the country up to now: Mario Draghi and Sergio Mattarella.

The forty-six votes collected this morning by outgoing President of the Republic are not to be underestimated as they came in the face of a center-left that had abstained and a center-right that went (not) compact on Casellati. Yesterday at the fourth ‘call’ Mattarella had collected 166 votes, from 5Stars, from a part of the Democratic Party and from centrists’ lawmakers.

In the sixth vote, the center-right announced the abstention while M5S, PD and LEU will vote blank. At this point, the hope is that the match can be resolved over the weekend.

The show played by the national political class on the election of the most important office in the Republic is one of the lowest ever and risks becoming yet another excuse to justify the Italian inaction on the many unresolved crises surrounding our country.