Italy's presidential election begins in Parliament

Updated: 2015-01-30 10:00


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Italy's presidential election begins in Parliament

A member of parliament casts his vote at the Chambers of Deputies in Rome January 29, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

ROME - Italian parliament gathered in joint session of both Houses on Thursday for the first round of voting to elect the new president, after 89-year-old Giorgio Napolitano resigned on January 14th.

The election process of the next head of State, whose figure may have a major influence on Italy's politics and reform path in future months, was being followed attentively by both media and people.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi advanced the name of Sicilian judge Sergio Mattarella, member of the Constitutional Court since 2011 and former minister in several governments.

Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) fully supported his candidature, on which minor leftist and centrist forces also seemed to agree.

The name of Mattarella, who entered politics as a Christian Democratic in the 1980s after his brother was killed by the Sicilian mafia, was however not welcomed by Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party and main opposition force in parliament.

Mattarella had in fact resigned as education minister in the 1990s to protest against a government's provision that helped Berlusconi's TV empire to develop.

Thursday's first round of balloting was not really expected to be crucial, considering the lack of agreement between major parties. Yet, it was watched with keen interest in the country.

Besides TV outlets, all major Italian newspapers extensively followed the event with live coverage. Some people gathered outside parliament despite an unusual day of bitter rain to watch 1,009 lawmakers and regional representatives entering the Lower House to join in the vote.

"I came specifically for this," Antonio Roberti told Xinhua, while taking shelter under a portico opposite the parliament and government buildings.

The man came from a village in Southern Italy where another presidential candidate was born.

Honorary president of Italy's Supreme Court Ferdinando Imposimato was in fact promoted by anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) after a poll on social media among activists.

Imposimato was the kind of man Roberti would like to see at the Quirinale presidential palace.

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