Voting for new Italian president to begin January 24
A picture shows a part of the Quirinale presidential palace in downtown Rome, on Janunary 4 , 2022. AFP
Italy's parliament and regional representatives will begin voting on January 24 for a new head of state, officials said Tuesday, with Prime Minister Mario Draghi the favourite to be the next president.
The role of Italy's head of state is largely ceremonial except in times of political crisis, when the president plays a crucial arbitrating role.
Roberto Fico, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, convened a session for Monday, January 24 at 1400 GMT "for the election of the president of the Republic", a statement from the lower parliamentary chamber said.
President Sergio Mattarella, an 80-year-old former judge, will complete his seven-year term on February 3.
There are no official candidates yet to succeed him, but Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief who was parachuted in a year ago to lead a national unity government, is widely considered the favourite.
Draghi, 74, has not confirmed his interest but at an end-of-year press conference last month, left the door open to a move to the Quirinale presidential palace.
Former prime minister and billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi has also been sounding out support for his own candidacy, although he faces significant opposition.
The winner is chosen by secret ballot of around 1,000 electors comprising senators, members of the Chamber of Deputies and representatives of Italy's 20 regions.
They must secure at least two-thirds of votes in the first three rounds, or more than half thereafter.
Other potential candidates include former lower house speaker Pier Ferdinando Casini, EU commissioner and ex-premier Paolo Gentiloni, former Socialist premier Giuliano Amato, and Justice Minister Marta Cartabia -- who if successful would be Italy's first female head of state.