Written by: Andrea Martin
Media by: Garrett Streeter
73-year-old Sicilian politician, Sergio Mattarella, was elected as Italy’s new president, taking over the vacated spot after former president, Giorgio Napolitano, stepped down from the position citing age as a his primary reason for doing so.
It took three days for Mattarella to be elected by Italian lawmakers, who struggled to amass enough votes to get him elected, but by the fourth round Mattarella only needed to gain a simple majority. Out of a possible 1,009 votes, Mattarella garnered 665, and will be sworn in on February 3.
The politics behind Mattarella’s election stems from Italy’s young Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who swayed a dismantling Italian government, and went as far as to out-maneuver former, and disgraced, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Although he is banned from public office for a multimillion-euro tax fraud, Berlusconi still has powerful influence over Italian politics, and it was assumed that whoever became the next president would ultimately have to be accepted by, not only Renzi, but by Berlusconi as well.
Renzi, unwavering, went against Berlusconi, and put Mattarella out into the open. What becomes the biggest issue is the pact between Berlusconi and Renzi, which was to deal with a new electoral law and reforming the Senate. Whether it will be passed or not has yet to be seen, but it will eventually be left to the politics of President Mattarella. Also, Mattarella is a soft-spoken and reserved man when compared to the vigor and rigorousness of Renzi, both hinting at a difference of dealing with politics that may hinder Italy’s government down the road.
President Mattarella was first elected to Parliament in 1983, and stayed there until 2003, serving as education minister in 1989. Mattarella resigned from the position a year later after new legislation was passed that would liberalize Italy’s media, which he saw as a favor to Berlusconi.
Upon being elected, Mattarella gave a short and curt answer. “My thoughts go first and especially to the difficulties and hopes of our fellow citizens.” Italy has long been in a recession where unemployment has steadily stayed above 13 percent. This has caused many young Italians to work abroad. Mattarella becomes the first Sicilian to hold the office of President in Italy.