Italy Re-Ups Mattarella, 80, for 7 Years

President had already rented an apartment for his retirement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 30, 2022 10:35 AM CST
Italy Re-Ups Mattarella, 80, for 7 Years
Lawmakers applaud Saturday after Sergio Mattarella is reelected as Italy's 13th president in the Italian parliament in Rome.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool)

Italian President Sergio Mattarella was pulled away from his impending retirement and reelected Saturday to a second seven-year term as the country's head of state, ending days of political impasse by party leaders that risked eroding the nation's credibility. Earlier in the day, lawmakers entreated Mattarella, 80, who had said repeatedly he didn't want a second mandate, to change his mind after lawmakers in Parliament and regional delegates voted fruitlessly for days, trying to reach a consensus on other possible candidates, the AP reports.

Mattarella won in the eighth round of voting when he clinched the 505 votes needed from the eligible 1,009 Grand Electors. Applause broke out in Parliament, prompting the Chamber of Deputies president to interrupt his reading of the ballots. The count then resumed, with Mattarella going on to win 759 votes. In a brief, televised statement from the Quirinal presidential palace, Mattarella told the nation he couldn't let his personal desires prevail over a "sense of responsibility" during the ”grave health, economic and social emergency” Italy is enduring in the COVID-19 pandemic. He added his commitment "to interpret the expectations and hopes of our fellow citizens."

Mattarella's first term ends on Thursday. Ahead of the presidential election this week, Mattarella had even rented an apartment in Rome to prepare for his move from the presidential palace. But after the stalemate, party whips and regional governors visited Mattarella at the presidential palace Saturday to reenlist him. Rai state TV said Premier Mario Draghi, the former European Central Bank chief who is leading a pandemic unity government, encouraged the lobbying. He hailed Mattarella's reelection as "splendid news for Italians." The job is largely ceremonial, but the president can send legislation back to Parliament for changes and tap party leaders to try to form a government if a coalition fails.

(More Italy stories.)

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