President of Italy

The president of Italy, officially the president of the Italian Republic (Italian: Presidente della Repubblica Italiana) is the head of state of Italy and in that role represents national unity and guarantees that Italian politics comply with the Constitution. The president's term of office lasts for seven years.[2] The current holder is former Constitutional judge Sergio Mattarella, who was elected on 31 January 2015.[3]

President of the Italian Republic
Presidente della Repubblica Italiana
Standard of the President
Sergio Mattarella

since 3 February 2015
StylePresident (reference and spoken)
His Excellency (diplomatic, outside Italy)
ResidenceQuirinal Palace, Rome
AppointerItalian Parliament
Regional Representatives
Term lengthSeven years
Inaugural holderEnrico De Nicola
(First President of the Italian Republic under current constitution, 1948)
Napoléon Bonaparte
(First to use the title President of the Italian Republic (1802–1805))
FormationConstitution of Italy
Salary230,000 annually[1]
WebsiteIl sito ufficiale della Presidenza della Repubblica
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Qualifications for office

The framers of the Constitution of Italy intended for the president to be an elder statesman of some stature. Article 84[2] states that any citizen who is fifty or older on election day and enjoys civil and political rights can be elected president. The article also states that the presidency is incompatible with any other office, therefore the president-elect must resign any other position before being sworn in.

The 1948 Constitution does not put any term limit on the presidency,[2] although until 2013 no president ever ran for a second term. On 20 April 2013, President Giorgio Napolitano agreed to run for a second term in an attempt to break the parliamentary deadlock in the 2013 presidential elections and was duly re-elected that same day.[4] However, he made it clear that he would not serve his full term and retired in January 2015.


The president of the Republic is elected by an electoral college of about 1,000 members. It comprises both chambers of Parliament—the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate of the Republic—meeting in joint session, combined with 58 special electors appointed by the regional councils of each of the 20 regions of Italy. Three representatives come from each region (save for the Aosta Valley, which due to its small size only appoints one), so as to guarantee representation for all localities and minorities. The electoral college thus consists of:

According to the Constitution, the election must be held by a secret ballot, with the senators, deputies and regional representatives all voting. A two-thirds vote is required to elect on any of the first three rounds of balloting and after that a simple majority suffices. The number of rounds has often been large thanks to the secret ballot and fragmented nature of the Italian Parliament[5] The election is presided over by the President of the Chamber of Deputies, who calls for the public counting of the votes. The vote is held in the Palazzo Montecitorio, seat of the Chamber of Deputies, which is expanded and re-configured for the event.

The president assumes office after taking an oath before Parliament and delivering a presidential address.

Presidential mandate

The president's term lasts seven years, and this prevents any president from being reelected by the same Houses, which have a five-year mandate, also granting some freedom from excessive political ties to the appointing body. The Italian president's term may end by voluntary resignation, death, permanent disability due to serious illness, or dismissal as for crimes of high treason or an attack on the Constitution.

Former presidents of the Republic are called presidents emeritus of the Republic and are appointed Senator for life. In the absence of the president of the Republic, including travel abroad, presidential functions are performed by the President of the Senate.[2]


The Constitution lays out the duties and powers of the president of the Republic, to include the following:

  1. In foreign affairs:
    • Accrediting and receiving diplomatic functionaries.
    • Ratifying international treaties upon authorization of Parliament (if required according to Article 80 of the Constitution).
    • Making official visits abroad, accompanied by a member of the government.
    • Declaring a state of war as decided by Parliament.
  2. In parliamentary affairs:
    • Nominating up to five senators-for-life.
    • Calling the Chambers of Parliament into extraordinary session and dissolving them.
    • Calling elections and fixing the date for the first meeting of the new Chambers.
  3. In legislative matters:
    • Authorizing the presentation of proposed governmental bills to Parliament.
    • Promulgating the laws approved in Parliament.
    • Remanding to the Chambers (with an explanation) and asking for reconsideration of a bill (permitted once per bill).
  4. Appertaining to popular sovereignty.
  5. In executive matters and as to official protocol.
    • Naming the prime minister of Italy and appointing Cabinet ministers on the advice of the prime minister.
    • Accepting the oath of the government.
    • Receiving the resignation of a government.
    • Promulgating laws by decree, which are proposed by the government alone. Unless acted on by Parliament, these measures expire after 60 days.
    • Naming certain high state functionaries.
    • Presiding over the Consiglio Supremo di Difesa (Supreme Defense Council) and commanding the armed forces.
    • Decreeing the dissolution of regional councils and the removals of presidents of regions.
  6. In judicial matters:
    • Presiding over the Consiglio Superiore della Magistratura (Superior Judicial Council).
    • Naming one-third of the Constitutional Court.
    • Naming 5 members of the Constitutional Court of Italy.
    • Granting pardons and commutations.

In practice, the president's office is mostly—though not entirely—ceremonial. The Constitution provides that nearly all presidential acts must be countersigned by a member of the government (either the prime minister or an individual minister) as most presidential acts are only formal and real political responsibility is upon the government. Many of the others are duties that he is required to perform. However, pardons and commutations have been recognized as autonomous powers of the president.

Despite the seemingly ceremonial nature of the position the president's role still has important implications. His ability to send a piece of legislation back to Parliament is not taken lightly by legislators, who are unlikely to ignore it unless the legislation is critical.[6] Moreover, in times of political instability the president has significant leeway in appointing prime ministers, such as when President Scalfaro appointed Lamberto Dini as prime minister against the wishes of outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi,[6] or when President Napolitano appointed Mario Monti in 2011 and Enrico Letta in 2013.[7]

This leeway extends even further to cabinet appointments, as in 2018 when President Mattarella blocked the appointment of Paolo Savona to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Mattarella felt that Savona's Euroscepticism would endanger Italy's relationship with the EU; he took the line that as the guardian of the Constitution, he could allow this to not happen.[8]


According to Article 86[2] of the Constitution, in all the cases in which the president is unable to perform the functions of the office, these shall be performed by the president of the Senate, who would temporarily serve as acting president.

In the event of permanent incapacity, death in office or resignation of the president, the president of the Chamber of Deputies shall call an election of a new president within fifteen days, notwithstanding the longer term envisaged during the dissolution of the Parliament or in the three months preceding dissolution.


The president resides in Rome at the Quirinal Palace and also has at his disposal the presidential holdings of Castelporziano,[9] near Rome and Villa Rosebery in Naples.[10]

The president's residence at the Quirinal is guarded by the Corazzieri, an elite cuirassier honor guard that is part of the Carabinieri and has its historical roots in the guards of the House of Savoy.[11]


Living former Presidents

There is one living former Italian President:

See also


  1. MacBeth, Alex (2 February 2012). "Roman Austerity: Parliamentary Salary Cuts a Drop in the Bucket". Spiegel Online (in Italian). Spiegel Online International.
  2. "The Italian Constitution". The official website of the Presidency of the Italian Republic.
  3. "Italy elects senior judge Sergio Mattarella as president". Reuters. 31 January 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  4. "President Giorgio Napolitano re-elected". BBC News. 2013-04-20.
  5. James., Newell, (2010). The politics of Italy : governance in a normal country. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521840705. OCLC 437084143.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  6. Donald, Hancock, M. (2014-02-27). Politics in Europe (Sixth ed.). Thousand Oaks, California. ISBN 9781452241463. OCLC 863193454.
  7. Donadio, Rachel (2013-04-24). "Italian President Nominates New Prime Minister". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  8. "In Italy, Populists' Bid To Form Government Fails After Presidential Veto". Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  9. web, Segretariato generale della Presidenza della Repubblica-Servizio sistemi informatici- reparto. "The residences: The Castelporziano Presidential Estate". Quirinale. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  10. web, Segretariato generale della Presidenza della Repubblica-Servizio sistemi informatici- reparto. "Villa Rosebery – The Park". Quirinale. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  11. web, Segretariato generale della Presidenza della Repubblica-Servizio sistemi informatici- reparto. "the Italian Corps of Cuirassiers". Quirinale. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
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