ROME (AP) — Lawmakers and regional representatives failed for a fourth day Thursday to find consensus on a new Italian president, even after the threshold for victory passed to a simple majority for the first time.
The center-right abstained outright in the voting, a tactic to maintain the bloc’s unity that drew swift rebukes from other party leaders because it meant the quorum wasn’t reached.
Blank ballots carried the day as they have every day this week, as political parties continued behind-the-scenes negotiations to come up with viable candidates to replace President Sergio Mattarella, whose seven-year term expires next week.
Mattarella obtained 166 votes, the most of any individual and an increase over past days. But the 80-year-old president has made clear he doesn’t want a second term.
Thursday was the first day of voting that a president could be elected with simple majority, or 505 votes, rather than the absolute majority required in the first three rounds.
Italy’s head of state is largely ceremonial, but the president is key in navigating Italy’s not-infrequent political crises. Those in the post have the power to dissolve parliament and tap a premier-designate to form a new coalition — which has happened twice since the last inconclusive elections in 2018.
Premier Mario Draghi has indicated his willingness to take on the post, but some parties worry that would trigger an early election and a period of political instability.