The election as President of the Republic takes place by secret ballot and the candidacies do not take place in an official form, but usually it is the political parties that build them – with some exceptions – by communicating and entering into agreements with allied or adversary leaders on an informal basis. Since they are largely done behind the scenes, the negotiations are then reported in the newspapers with background or interviews to identify in advance which candidate is most likely to become president. It is what it is called in the jargon “Toto nomi”, with which the potential and most likely future presidents are mentioned.
At this stage, the “full names” started well in advance already last autumn. The name that has been mentioned most often is undoubtedly that of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, associated with the Quirinale practically since he was called to form a new government in February last year; then there is the hypothesis of a re-election of the current president, Sergio Mattarella, still hoped for by various leaders despite the fact that he has made it clear several times and explicitly that he is not available for a second term; and finally the candidacy of Silvio Berlusconi, who is coming carried on with insistence by himself and which has been losing momentum lately.
But if the profiles of Draghi, Mattarella and Berlusconi are known, those of the other characters indicated as probable candidates to replace Mattarella may be less so: here we have collected some of those that have circulated the most, from Pier Ferdinando Casini to Letizia Moratti.
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Pier Ferdinando Casini
Long-time politician, former Christian Democrat, has been in Parliament continuously since 1983, a record among active parliamentarians. He began as a city councilor in his hometown, Bologna, then was elected to the Chamber with 30,000 preferences. A pupil of former DC secretary Arnaldo Forlani, from 1983 to today he has given his support to almost all subsequent governments, except that of Lamberto Dini and those of the center-left of Prodi, D’Alema and Amato. Between 2001 and 2006 he was president of the Chamber, currently he is a senator enrolled in the group For Autonomies, elected with a list in support of the Democratic Party.
His link with the PD and at the same time his long history of support for the Berlusconi governments make him a “bipartisan” candidate, as they say in these cases, that is, potentially pleasing to both the center-right and the center-left. He is 66 years old.
She is 58 years old and is currently Minister of Justice in the Draghi government, while until September 2020 she was President of the Constitutional Court. He is also full professor of Constitutional Law at the Bicocca University of Milan. He graduated in 1987 with Valerio Onida, who later became President of the Court, and did research in many Italian and foreign universities, including in France, Spain, Germany and the United States. Her appointment to the Constitutional Court took place in September 2011 at the behest of Giorgio Napolitano: she was the third female judge of the Constitutional Court, after Fernanda Contri and Maria Rita Saulle.
Cartabia is Catholic and is considered close to the Communion and Liberation movement. She had already been associated with the Presidency of the Republic in 2015. As an expert jurist she has the credentials to be a competent President of the Republic, although many have pointed out her substantial lack of political experience (she has never been a parliamentarian).
Like Cartabia, Severino is a long-time jurist with little political experience: she was Minister of Justice in the technical government led by Mario Monti, between 2011 and 2013.
A very influential lawyer in Rome, she defended, among others, Romano Prodi, Francesco Gaetano Caltagirone and Cesare Geronzi, and acted as a consultant for large companies such as Eni, Enel and Telecom. She is currently vice president of the private university LUISS Guido Carli, of which she was also rector, and recently Draghi appointed her president of the National School of Administration. He is 73 years old.
During her time as minister she approved the so-called “Severino law”, which takes its name from her and which governs the incandiability and decadence of elected politicians. The law imposes “immediate suspension from office at the request of the prefect and the Ministry of the Interior for a period of at least 18 months” against public administrators condemned even in the first instance for a series of crimes, including those against the public administration.
Professor of Constitutional Law, judge of the Constitutional Court, twice Prime Minister, several times Minister and former parliamentarian, Amato has the perfect curriculum to be President of the Republic, and in fact his name is brought up in practically every election. Yet, although his aspiration to the Quirinale is known, he never managed to get himself elected.
Amato was a deputy for the Socialist Party for much of the 1980s, when he became advisor to the then secretary Bettino Craxi and his undersecretary when he was prime minister. The nickname that is still associated with him, “Dottor Sottile”, made famous by Eugenio Scalfari, dates back to that time.
Amato is nearly 83 years old, and the odds of him becoming president this time around aren’t particularly high. He has been talked about above all in relation to a hypothesis of a “timed” mandate, ie shorter than the seven years provided, in the event that the parties do not find an agreement and Mattarella does not accept a second mandate. The aim would be to complete the legislature and renew the Parliament in 2023, after which Amato would resign and the new Parliament would elect a new President of the Republic with a full mandate (but this is considered very remote by many).
His name has been made a lot in recent days, after Salvini said in an interview that the League “will make a proposal that I think will be convincing for many if not everyone”. Pera is a politician and academic (he was full professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Pisa and of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Catania). He is 79 years old and was president of the Senate between 2001 and 2006 and senator for four legislatures, until 2013, with Forza Italia. Like the other potential candidates, Pera was not out of balance, and in an interview a Free he said: ‘Think of the unfortunate person who has the candidate tag on his neck. If he denies, he confirms. If he confirms, he leaves the list of candidates ».
To elect him, however, the center-right will need the votes of other parliamentary groups, given that it alone does not have the sufficient number of voters either to reach a qualified majority (two-thirds of the members of the session) or an absolute majority (half plus one ).
Her name has also emerged in recent weeks as a potential candidate if Berlusconi’s candidacy fails. Moratti is one of the most important figures of the center-right, former Minister of Education in two governments between 2001 and 2006, then mayor of Milan. After her experience as a mayor she actually withdrew from politics until last year, when she was called by the Lombardy regional council to replace Giulio Gallera as councilor for welfare.
Moratti is 71 years old and was born in Milan, where she lived and studied until university, graduating in Political Science at the State University. Her maiden name is Brichetto Arnaboldi – a well-known noble family from Lombardy – but for many years she has borne her husband’s surname, one of the most famous in the city.
His name has remained a bit under the radar but in recent days he has been circulating in the journalistic background as a possible candidate for Matteo Renzi. Gentiloni, president of the PD Council between 2016 and 2018, is 67 years old and is currently the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs. Before being Prime Minister he had been Foreign Minister in the Renzi government, of Communications in the Prodi government and parliamentarian since 2001, first with the Margherita and then with the PD.
He has a history of militancy in student movements and in the extra-parliamentary left, while later he devoted himself to the environmental cause. He has a degree in political science and is a professional journalist. In the nineties he was the spokesperson for the then mayor of Rome Francesco Rutelli.
Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati
Still in the center-right share, the current President of the Senate is also the probable candidate. She is 75 years old, was born in Rovigo but lives in Padua and has been a lawyer by trade, but also a senator for Forza Italia since 1994. Later she was also undersecretary in two ministries (Justice and Health), while in 2014 the Parliament met in joint session he voted it among the lay members – that is, not coming from the judiciary – of the Superior Council of the Judiciary.
Of conservative positions on many issues – such as same-sex marriages – Alberti Casellati could be another name that the center-right (in particular Salvini) is thinking about, but his past made up of frequent TV appearances in defense of Berlusconi they make her a divisive candidate. According to Corriere della Sera it is “very difficult that it will have the votes of the Democratic Party, even more unlikely that it will have the support of the 5 Stars”.
The others and the others
In addition to these names, many others are circulating these days but are less likely to be elected. Among these is Anna Finocchiaro, magistrate and politician of the PD, several times minister, long-time deputy; Franco Frattini, Berlusconi’s former foreign minister and recently elected president of the Council of State; Sabino Cassese, judge emeritus of the Constitutional Court; Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio and minister in the Monti government. Two former center-left leaders are also often cited: Romano Prodi, whose candidacy, however, already exists it failed dramatically in 2013, and Walter Veltroni.