Tbe Italian parliament has elected Sergio Mattarella president of the republic. For US readers, the Italian President is like the constitutional monarch of the parliamentary republic. Actual controversial decisions are made by the prime minister (now Matteo Renzi). The president has great power in theory on the understanding that it is used only of the Constitution is threatened (of course the Italian being as functional as the US congress Presidential decrees are often needed to give parliament more time to get the job done) . The president is not supposed to be controversial or to say anything controversial.
The extremely old and finally insisting on retiring ex president Giorgio Napolitano was so uncontroversial that he was bland — the epitome of the moderate centrist establishment figure. He spent most of his adult life as an extremely boring moderate centrist communist (only in Italia). He was contested by the anti establishment raging angry movimento 5 stelle which opposes the status quo and supports — well they’ll get around to that some decade.
Mattarella is an ex Christian Democrat. However, he is controversial. The reason is that way back when the crooked Socialist party was giving Berlusconi half of the duopoly of television, Mattarella resigned in protest. His election is a painful defeat for Berlusconi. The headline in the centrist establishment Corriere della Sera is “Mattarella, l’ex Dc che si scontrò
con Berlusconi sulla legge Mammì” that is “Mattarella the ex Christian Democrat who clashed with Berlusconi over the Mammi act” (the law which gave Berlusconi his TV empire).
Berlusconi haters (including the oversigned) are gloating over how Renzi outmanouvered Berlusconi.
The President actual matters in Italy some times. His (never yet her) key decision is to ask someone to try to find a majority in parliament which will him (never yet her) prime minister. Since it is not always clear which party will betray which and whether there is a majority, this decision isn’t mechanical as it is in say the UK.