It was announced that the Italian Parliament has elected the 12th President of the Italian Republic. Italy is a Republic since 1946, the Monarchy was abolished by referendum after the Second World War. I served in Italy as Consigliere presso al Quirinale from 2007-2011 when President Giorgio Napolitano was in Office. A funny little fact, we shared the same barber on Via Dei Serpenti in Rome.
Flag of the President of the Italian Republic
Not to be confused with Prime Minister of Italy, who heads the Government.
The President of the Italian Republic (Italian: Presidente della Repubblica Italiana) is the head of state of Italy and, in that role, represents national unity and guarantees that Italian politics comply with the Constitution. The president’s term of office lasts for seven years. The last (11th) President of the Republic was Giorgio Napolitano, who was elected on the fourth round of legislative balloting, on 10 May 2006 and elected to a second term on the sixth round with 738 votes, much more than the 504 necessary for a simple majority on 20 April 2013. On 31 January 2015, Constitutional judge Sergio Mattarella was elected President of Italian Republic.
Sergio Mattarella and his predecessor Giorgio Napolitano
Qualifications for office
The framers of the Constitution of Italy intended for the President to be an elder statesman of some stature. Article 84 states that any citizen who is fifty or older on election day and enjoys civil and political rights can be elected President.
Those citizens who already hold any other office are barred from becoming President, unless they resign their previous office once they are elected.
The 1948 Italian Constitution does not have term limits although until 2013 no Italian President of the Republic had run for a second term of office. On 20 April 2013 incumbent President Giorgio Napolitano, holder of the post since 2006, agreed to run for another term in an attempt to break the parliamentary deadlock in the 2013 presidential elections and was duly re-elected that same day. He made clear, however, that he would not serve his full term, and retired in January 2015.
The President of the Republic is elected by an electoral college comprising the two chambers of Parliament–the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate–meeting in joint session, combined with 58 special electors appointed from the 20 regions of Italy. Three representatives come from each region, save for the Aosta Valley, which appoints one, so as to guarantee representation for all localities and minorities.
According to the Constitution, the election must be held by a secret ballot, with the 315 Senators, the 630 Deputies and the 58 regional representatives all voting. A two-thirds vote is required to elect on any of the first three rounds of balloting; after that, a simple majority suffices. The election is presided over by the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, who calls for the public counting of the votes. The vote is held in the Palazzo Montecitorio, home of the Chamber of Deputies, which is expanded and re-configured for the event.
The President assumes office after having taken an oath before Parliament and delivering a presidential address.
The President’s term lasts seven years; this prevents any President from being reelected by the same Houses, which have a five-year mandate, and grants some freedom from excessive political ties to the appointing body.
The President’s term may end by:
permanent disability, due to serious illness;
dismissal, as for crimes of high treason or an attack on the Constitution.
Former Presidents of the Republic are called Presidents Emeritus of the Republic and are appointed Senator for life.
In the absence of the President of the Republic, including travel abroad, its functions have been performed by the President of the Senate.
Standard of the President of the Republic.
The Constitution lays out the duties and powers of the President of the Republic, to include:
In foreign affairs:
Accrediting and receiving diplomatic functionaries;
Ratifying international treaties, upon authorization of Parliament (if required according to Article 80 of the Constitution);
Making official visits abroad, accompanied by a member of the government; and
Declaring a state of war, as decided by Parliament.
In parliamentary affairs:
Nominating up to five senators-for-life;
Calling the Chambers of Parliament into extraordinary session and dissolving them; and
Calling elections and fixing the date for the first meeting of the new Chambers.
In legislative matters:
Authorizing the presentation of proposed governmental bills to Parliament;
Promulgating the laws approved in Parliament; and
Remanding to the Chambers (with an explanation) and asking for reconsideration of a bill (permitted once per bill);
Appertaining to popular sovereignty:
In executive matters and as to official protocol:
Naming the Prime Minister of Italy after elections, and appointing Cabinet ministers on the advice of the PM;
Accepting the oath of the government;
Receiving the resignation of a government;
Promulgating laws by decree, which are proposed by the government alone. These measures, unless acted on by Parliament, expire after 60 days;
Naming certain high state functionaries;
Presiding over the Consiglio Supremo di Difesa (Supreme Defense Council), and commanding the armed forces; and
Decreeing the dissolution of regional councils and the removals of presidents of regions.
In judicial matters:
Presiding over the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura (Superior Judicial Council);
Naming one-third of the Constitutional Court; and
Granting pardons and commutations.
In practice, the President’s office is mostly, though not entirely, ceremonial. The Constitution provides that nearly all presidential acts must be countersigned by a member of the government (either the Prime Minister or an individual minister), as most presidential acts are only formal, and real political responsibility is upon the government. Many of the others are duties that he is required to perform. However, pardons and commutations have been recognised as autonomous powers of the President.
According to Article 86 of the Constitution, in all the cases in which the President is unable to perform the functions of the Office, these shall be performed by the Speaker of the Seante.
In the event of permanent incapacity, death or resignation of the President, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies shall call an election of a new President within fifteen days, notwithstanding the longer term envisaged during dissolution of the Parliament or in the three months preceding dissolution.
The President resides in Rome at the Quirinal Palace, and also has at his disposal the presidential holdings of Castelporziano, near Rome, and Villa Rosebery, in Naples.