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ELECTION

No clear favourites in presidential race as Italy heads for fourth round of voting

The third round of voting in Italy's presidential elections on Wednesday resulted in another deadlock, prompting a fourth vote on Thursday.

Italy's Presidential Quirinale palace in Rome.
Italy's Presidential Quirinale palace in Rome. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Italy’s presidential election is set to drag on for several more days after a third round of voting by secret ballot produced no clear winner – as expected.

Two-thirds of the vote would be needed at this stage to produce a winner, but no candidate has come close.

Doubts over candidates led some 412 of the 1,000 or so voting MPs, senators and regional representatives to cast blank ballots on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: The Italian vocabulary you’ll need to follow the presidential election

There were 125 votes for outgoing president Sergio Mattarella, followed by 114 for Guido Crosetto, a businessman and co-founder of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, who has so far not been considered a serious contender.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who was the frontrunner for the post ahead of the election, pocketed just five votes as the country’s parties apparently panicked at the idea of pulling him from his job at such a sensitive time.

Political analysts have warned that moving the former European Central Bank head to the presidential palace could deal a fatal blow to an already weak coalition government, sparking snap elections.

 

The bar to win will be significantly lowered in the next round of voting on Thursday, as the threshold for victory now falls from a two-thirds majority to an absolute majority of 505.

Italy’s president is a largely ceremonial figure but wields great political power in crises. 

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POLITICS

Italy plans to stop ‘revolving door’ between judges and politicians

Italian lawmakers on Tuesday advanced a planned reform aimed at stopping the 'revolving door' between justice and government, as part of wider changes to the country's creaking judicial system.

Italy plans to stop 'revolving door' between judges and politicians

The proposed reform, which still has to be approved by the Italian Senate in the coming weeks, imposes significant limitations on the number of magistrates, prosecutors and judges looking to go into politics – a frequent move in Italy.

Under the submitted changes, a magistrate wishing to stand for election, whether national, regional or local, will not be able to do so in the region where they have worked over the previous three years.

At the end of their mandate, magistrates who have held elective positions will not be able to return to the judiciary – they will be moved to non-jurisdictional posts at, for example, the Court of Auditors or the Supreme Court of Cassation, according to local media reports.

Furthermore, magistrates who have applied for elective positions but have not been successful for at least three years will no longer be able to work in the region where they ran for office. 

The reform is part of a wider programme of changes to Italy’s tortuous judicial system. This is required by the European Commission to unlock billions of euros in the form of post-pandemic recovery funds.

Public perception of the independence of Italian courts and judges is among the worst in Europe, according to the EU’s justice scoreboard.

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