Italian lawmakers will elect the country’s next president on January 24 with current Prime Minister Mario Draghi among the contenders.
Even if their functions are in theory essentially honorary, the president of the Italian Republic has a key role in the event of a government crisis.
It was in this context that the outgoing president, Sergio Mattarella, turned to Draghi the former head of the European Central Bank in February to succeed Giuseppe Conte as prime minister after the latter lost his majority in parliament.
However there are no official candidates, and lawmakers can vote for literally anyone they like, provided they are an Italian citizen aged 50 or over. The president of Italy is elected by both houses of parliament in joint session plus three representatives from each region.
The voting is held in secret and a two thirds majority is needed on the first three ballots and then after that by an absolute majority. A move by Draghi to the Quirinale palace would risk political turmoil, either triggering elections a year ahead of schedule or resulting in the installation of a new premier.