Italian president reelected to second term

Italian President Sergio Mattarella was reelected to a second term in office on Saturday, with the country’s Parliament pulling him away from a planned retirement after it was unable to select a replacement in multiple days of voting.

Mattarella, 80, had planned to retire after his first seven-year term ended on Thursday, but the Italian Parliament was deadlocked on his successor. After seven rounds of balloting cast over the course of six days resulted in no consensus on the next president, officials visited Mattarella at his home on Saturday to ask him to stay on, The Associated Press reported.

In the eighth round of voting, Mattarella won the 505 votes required for victory, according to the AP. In a televised speech afterwards, Mattarella said he felt a “sense of responsibility” to continue governing during the pandemic.

Mattarella, from the city of Palermo in Italy, was first elected to Parliament in 1983 as a member of the Christian Democratic Party. He was elected as the 12th president of Italy in 2015.

The Italian president’s reelection was met with positive words from Pope FrancisPope FrancisPope denounces COVID-19, vaccine misinformation, calls for truth Pope urges parents to support gay children Pope Benedict XVI says he attended meeting to discuss abusive priest MORE and Prime Minister Mario Draghi, according to Reuters. Draghi had previously expressed hope that he might assume the office himself, but some lawmakers worried his doing so would result in political instability, per the AP.

Draghi, whose coalition includes main center left and center right parties as well as the populist Five-Star Movement, thanked Mattarella for “his decision to go along with the extremely strong will of Parliament,” Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Giorgia Meloni, the head of the conservative party Brothers of Italy, criticized Parliament for failing to agree on a successor.

“Once again, Parliament has shown that it is not fit for Italians,” Meloni said in a statement obtained by Al Jazeera.

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