Sergio Mattarella, Italy’s 80-year-old president, agrees to serve second term

Italian President Sergio Mattarella sits at a table decorated with a small Italian flag
Italian President Sergio Mattarella, shown in June 2021, has been elected to a second seven-year term after party leaders were unable to pick a candidate to succeed him and asked him to stay in power.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Italian President Sergio Mattarella was elected Saturday night to a second seven-year term, ending days of political impasse by party leaders that risked eroding the nation’s credibility.

Earlier Saturday, lawmakers entreated Mattarella, 80, who had said he didn’t want a second mandate, to change his mind and agree to reelection by lawmakers in Parliament and regional delegates.

That move followed days of fruitless efforts by political leaders to reach a consensus on another candidate.


Mattarella won in the eighth round of voting when he clinched the minimum of 505 votes needed from the eligible 1,009 electors.

Applause broke out in Parliament, prompting the Chamber of Deputies president to interrupt his reading aloud of the ballots. The count resumed, with Mattarella going on to win 759 votes.

Mattarella’s first term ends Thursday. Before the presidential election this week, he repeatedly said he didn’t want another stint.

Mattarella even rented an apartment in Rome to prepare for his move from the presidential palace atop Quirinal Hill.

A funeral was held for Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, a week after the renowned Zen master and peace activist died at the age of 95.

But after a seventh inconclusive vote in six days in Parliament, party whips and regional governors visited Mattarella at the presidential palace to solicit his willingness Saturday.

Rai state TV said Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a nonpartisan former chief of the European Central Bank who is leading a pandemic unity government, telephoned party leaders to encourage the lobbying.

Draghi had previously indicated that he would be willing to move into the president’s role, but some party leaders figured that would prompt an early election, which they feared they would lose.

Mattarella’s willingness to serve again “is a choice of generosity toward the country,” Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta said at a news conference minutes before Saturday’s second, conclusive round of voting began.

“You don’t change a winning team,” former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told reporters about the current leadership with Draghi, a reassuring figure to financial markets, as prime minister and Mattarella as president.

A chorus of Italian politicians earlier Saturday called for Mattarella to reconsider.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who heads the center-right Forza Italia party he founded, said that unity “today can only be found around the figure of President Sergio Mattarella, of whom we know we’re asking a great sacrifice.”

Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who heads a small left-wing party, told reporters that Mattarella’s reelection would be crucial for “a context of stability for Italy.”

Former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the head of the populist 5-Star Movement, Parliament’s largest force, told reporters, “Mattarella is the guarantor of everybody, impartial, authoritative.”

Until 2013, no Italian president had served a second term. Then, a similar political stalemate in several rounds of balloting ended when Giorgio Napolitano, a former communist leader, agreed to serve a second term.

Napolitano resigned in 2015, when he was nearly 90, clearing the way for the election that made Mattarella Italy’s head of state.