The President of the Republic now has the difficult task of finding a solution that will allow Italy to avert the threat of new elections. But what are the next steps?
One week after the election that left Italy in a confusing situation, all we know for sure is that the way for the appointment of a new government is still very long.
The eyes of all of Europe (and not just those) are on Sergio Mattarella. The President of the Republic now has the difficult task of finding a solution that will allow Italy to have a guide and avert the threat of new elections. However, we will need to wait a little bit longer to find out whether the next Prime Minister will be the leader of the Five Star Movement, Luigi Di Maio, or the Secretary of the Northern League, Matteo Salvini. Indeed, it will be hardly possible to get a clearer picture of the situation before April.
Election of the Presidents of the Chamber and the Senate
The first step on this long route to a new Italian government is the election of the Presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, due to be held on March 23, day of the first session of the new Parliament. The vote for the President of the Chamber will be taken by secret ballot. To finally have the name of the successor to Laura Boldrini, a two-thirds majority vote is initially required. Otherwise, the Chamber will have to proceed to a second scrutiny, where the necessary two-thirds majority includes the blank ballot papers, and then to a third scrutiny, where the decision is taken by a majority of those present and voting.
As regards the President of the Senate, the ballot is equally secret, but an absolute majority of the votes cast is sufficient for the election. Nonetheless, there are multiple scrutinies envisaged once again. If after the first three votes the necessary majority has not yet been secured, the high chamber proceeds with a ballot between the two most voted candidates of the last scrutiny: whoever achieves the majority, even if relative, is elected. In the case of a tie, the oldest candidate wins the presidency.
Formation of parliamentary groups
The next step is the formation of parliamentary groups. The time limit within which the elected representatives must communicate the group they decide to join is set for March 25. Two days later, both Chamber and Senate spakers summon the MPs belonging to each group, including the mixed group. At this point, the groups will proceed to elect their Presidents, Vice-Presidents and steering committees.
Once all the procedural formalities for the inauguration of the new Parliament are fulfilled, Paolo Gentiloni, the outgoing Prime Minister, will tender his resignation to the President of the Republic. At this point, Mattarella will kick off the phase of consultations with the political forces. At the end of the discussions, he may decide whether to opt for an ‘exploratory assignment’ (if the situation is still uncertain), or for a full-fledged appointment.
The consultations should begin by the end of March, but these will hardly lead to a clear epilogue before April, also because of the Easter break. Until such time as the new government takes office, marking the official start of the new parliamentary term, Paolo Gentiloni will remain in charge.