The latest cynical invention of politics: the president who does not last long

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Members of the Cuirassiers’ Regiment (Reggimento Corazzieri) are pictured at the Quirinale presidential palace in Rome

The latest cynical invention of politics is the President who does not last long. So advanced in age, and so full of ailments, that he could resist on the Colle for two or three years at the most instead of the canonical seven. An old man with a built-in timer: here is the identikit that has been circulating in the upper floors of the building since it was understood that none of the so-called young people has the road cleared towards the Quirinale, starting with Draghi himself.

Super Mario has a handicap: personalities of his stature should be elected on the first ballot, practically acclaimed, because otherwise petty doubts would creep up among deputies and senators, such as “it’s not that if the premier becomes president we risk rushing to the polls, so that I would not be re-elected and would I lose 12 thousand euros a month in parliamentary salary? “. But a plebiscite on Draghi’s name has become unlikely since Berlusconi decided to run. And not only does the Cav objectively represent an obstacle, but from what is said of the various encounters with Salvini and Meloni, it is he who shows himself to be old and shabby, always waving the 85 springs on his shoulders as proof of a fragility capable of making him prefer to those who enjoy excellent health.

Shrewdly Silvio understood that – in the event of a stalemate, with the “snipers” unleashed by secret ballot, with the parties unable to get out of it and with the institutional system on the verge of collapse – it could be convenient to settle for a temporary, passing president , transitional because decrepit, almost geriatric, put to keep the chair warm while waiting for better days, with a fixed-term contract for having reached age limits and therefore more precarious than a CoCoCo. Berlusconi was quick to come forward, but apparently he is not alone. If the rumors were true, a “thin doctor” like Giuliano Amato (83-year-old former prime minister, current vice-president of the council) would also have made himself available. And no one would be surprised if scraps of experience were requested from Professor Sabino Cassese, 86 years old but as lucid as few.

Someone has even thrown into the meat grinder a person who deserves admiration like Liliana Segre, born in 1930, survivor of Auschwitz, a candidate without her knowledge but determined not to be used as a stopgap by those who pretend to love her. Ditto Sergio Mattarella, for whom a second presidential term would be ready as long as he accepts it short, transitional. Mattarella, like Segre, doesn’t even want to hear about it. He would risk the end of Giorgio Napolitano who, instead of receiving the gratitude of the parties who had begged him to stay at 89 years old, felt tolerated and immediately realized he had made a mistake. But octogenarians available for a bridging solution, with a rich political curriculum and perhaps many pathologies, can be found as long as you want in the logic of “as long as my strength holds me”: an indefinable, vague concept that alludes to a potential business, evokes a bargain, a convenience as in those “For Sale” ads where the grandfather is auctioning off the bare property pretending with one foot already in the pit to attract buyers.

The fiction of a president with a suitcase in his hand would allow the leaders to postpone the choices, to Enrico Letta for example to avoid a selection between the aspiring candidates who exceed the ten in the Democratic Party, all very vindictive and in scorn with each other, keeping the respective ambitions without disappointing any. None of the candidates would be elected, but everyone could try again next time. Not only. Relying on a “great old man” with poor health would make it possible to elect a new one after the next political elections, when this Parliament will already be in oblivion and there will be another one more compliant with the popular will. Whoever wins in the polls will conquer the Quirinale.

Then there is always the risk that history takes different, inscrutable turns. As Prezzolini noted, in Italy “nothing is more definitive than the provisional”, the transitions become eternal, the ferrymen immovable. There can be no president with an expiration date on the label, like yoghurts. If the duration is a function of health, of “as long as I feel it”, the last word belongs to Mother Nature or to Divine Providence which often proves to be capricious. The history of the Conclave should teach something. In 1958 the cardinals elected John XXIII, in the world Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, in the expectation that it would not last long. They hoped to get him out of the way quickly. Instead the Good Pope lived another 5 years, enough to convene the Second Vatican Council and to make a revolution that no one would have expected.


Source: Huffington Post Italy Athena2 by www.huffingtonpost.it.

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