Fears grow for future of Renzi’s government as Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, resigns
Italian president, Giorgio Napolitano, who led the country through one of its most difficult political periods, resigned on earlier today.
Napolitano, 89, was Italy’s longest-serving president, having entered office in 2006.
Citing advanced age, his departure was expected following his reluctance at a second term in office after a successor failed to be elected in 2013.
At the time, he said he would not serve all seven years of the second mandate.
Opening a new phase of political uncertainty, Napolitano’s departure will come as a blow to prime minister Matteo Renzi’s young government and its plans for reform.
Napolitano acted as a crucial ally in Renzi’s battle for institutional and economic changes for the country, one trapped in a triple-dip recession – the longest since World War II.
The former president has previously ensured support for Renzi’s ambitions plans from Italy’s hostile political parties.
In recent years Napolitano’s influence has helped to make Italy’s problematic legislative process more competent, with the passing of a new electoral law and a complete constitutional overhaul.
The Italian bicameral parliament, along with representatives from regional councils, must now elect Napolitano’s successor. The procedure, which is expected to be lengthy, will begin with the first vote on 29th January.
Under Italian law, there is a 15-day window in which to decide the country’s next president.
The vote is by secret ballot and may generate the ambushing of weak candidates, who have previously been knocked out of previous elections.
Largely a ceremonial role, the president’s duties include dictating efforts to forge a new coalition in the event of governmental collapse and calling new elections if parliamentary support cannot be found for a new premier.
The outcome of these elections will determine what the future may hold for Renzi’s government.