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Italy sets January 24 to start voting for new president

ROME (AP) – Italy’s Lower Chamber of Parliament yesterday set January 24 as the start date to begin voting for a new president, officially kicking off a campaign that is expected to see Premier Mario Draghi and ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi vie for the prestigious job.

The victor, who is chosen by around 1,000 “big electors” among lawmakers and regional representatives, will replace President Sergio Mattarella, whose seven-year term ends on February 3. The voting is expected to last several rounds over several days.

The Italian presidency has limited powers and is largely ceremonial. But the president plays a key role in resolving political impasses, which aren’t uncommon in Italy.

And this election comes before a new season of campaigning before the 2023 parliamentary election.

During Italy’s political crisis last year, Mattarella tapped Draghi to lead a government of national unity to help guide the country through the pandemic and secure European Union (EU) funding for Italy’s recovery plan.

At his end-of-year news conference, Draghi said he had accomplished what he set out to do, indicating his availability to move into the presidential Quirinale Palace and allow political parties to resume the process of governing.

The centre-left Democratic Party, which recently has topped polls with around 20 per cent of voters, has voiced strong support for a Draghi presidency, believing that the internationally respected Draghi would send a signal of continued Italian stability and credibility.

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