Rome, 3 February 2022 (dpa/MIA) — Sergio Mattarella was sworn in for a second term as Italy’s president on Thursday, after a drawn-out election last week that resulted in him being chosen for a job he was no longer interested in holding.
The 80-year-old took the oath of office in a ceremony at a joint session of parliament in Rome, afterwards encouraging his countrymen to face the many challenges of the present: from the Covid crisis and the need for reform to demographic issues, opportunities for women and the fight against racism. “Italy is a great country,” Mattarella said.
Mattarella had repeatedly ruled out a second term in office — which lasts seven years — but changed his mind when Italy’s main parties failed to agree on a successor and no other way out of the impasse appeared available.
In his speech on Thursday, the Sicilian spoke of the “agonizing days of the previous week, agonizing for everyone, including me.” If the uncertainty about the future president had lasted any longer, public trust in politics would have been destroyed even more than it had been already.
“I must — unexpectedly — take on responsibility again, which I must not shirk,” he said, calling on politicians and citizens “to ensure a more modern Italy.”
After a chaotic round of haggling, the Sicilian allowed himself to be persuaded to drop his retirement plans and accept re-election in a vote by more than 1,000 lawmakers and regional delegates last Saturday.
While the Italian president is mainly tasked with ceremonial matters, the role can also wield great power at certain times. Among the powers of the presidency are the power to block legislation, to dissolve parliament and call new elections, and to approve or block the appointment of ministers.