The “Quirinale romance” is the new best-seller of Italian politics ahead of the vote that will select the successor of President Sergio Mattarella.
The current head of state said he was unavailable for a second term, freezing those hoping for his re-election to allow the government to continue smoothly until the natural end of the Legislature in 2023. For Mattarella, Giorgio Napolitano’s second term was a constitutional stretch, therefore a unicum not to be repeated.
Mario Draghi never spoke directly of this possibility. On the contrary, the head of government has signaled a growing intolerance all the times in which politicians and journalists have effectively nominated him for the Quirinale and, in all likelihood, he will not dissolve his reserve before the end of December. This is because he believes that the executive would not resist a breakdown of the majority pact on the occasion of the vote for the Quirinale. Better to take time, in the hope that before then his allies have found an agreement on the name of a common candidate.
In the current Italian conjuncture, with the country heading towards another six months of state of emergency to face the fourth wave of the coronavirus, common sense would like all parties – starting with those who aspire to lead a government after the next general elections – avoided slipping into the tunnel of parliamentary infightings. Where snipers and the uncontrollable mixed group would be the masters.
With all due consequences. The sight of a Balkanized Parliament on the name of the next head of state along with a possible implosion of current ruling coalition risk destroying the last shreds of politics credibility and expose the country to the winds of political instability in a situation that is still crucial for the management of EU funds and for the resolution of the health crisis.
Only time will tell if this awareness will be able to make its way into the minds of our ruling class and lead decision-makers towards milder advice. In the meantime, toto-names are going crazy, fueled by the possible rejection of the former European central banker. At that point plan B would be triggered, with an adjoining roulette wheel of names and crossfire.
Romano Prodi has predicted that those who have fewer vetoes will win, not those who start with the most votes. The former prime minister of center-left governments added that he was not in the game due to age limits, after having become one of the most illustrious victims of the 101 “franc shooters” who sunk his candidature in 2013. Opposite reasoning for his former opponent Silvio Berlusconi, who sees in the election to the Quirinale the sublimation of his long political career and also the definitive rehabilitation after the years of investigations and the expulsion from the Senate. Numbers in hand, his chances of election are practically nil: instead of being king, explained Matteo Renzi, Berlusconi can aspire to be the king maker.
In the toto-names of these weeks there is room for other veterans of national politics such as Pierferdinando Casini and Giuliano Amato. Both have a long political and institutional experience, as well as a personal profile distant from everyday politics.
Casini was last elected to Parliament in 2018 with the Democratic Party after being one of the founders of the center-right. A transversal path that could earn him widespread support, just like the one enjoyed by Amato. Prime Minister in 1992 and 2000, the candidacy of the current vice-president of the Constitutional Court could represent the guarantee name able to satisfy the most influential actors of the parliamentary arc on a par with what happened seven years ago with Mattarella.
But 2022 could also be the year of the first woman elected to the presidency of the Republic. At the top of the list of preferences are the names of two top figures in the Italian public system. The first is Marta Cartabia, current Minister of Justice and president emeritus of the Constitutional Court. An institutional and guarantee figure, therefore, even if with little political experience.
The second is Elisabetta Belloni, the first woman to lead the secret services after having been secretary general of the Farnesina. Ambassador and Roman, Belloni has always been considered neutral to party dynamics. A theoretically not very divisive candidacy, therefore, but which for this same reason could hardly impose herself in the eyes of great electors.