In Italy the wheels have been set in motion for electing a new president as the country takes stock of the abrupt resignation of Giovanni Leone from the largely ceremonial but still important office of Head of State.
In Italy the wheels have been set in motion for electing a new president as the country takes stock of the abrupt resignation of Giovanni Leone from the largely ceremonial but still important office of Head of State. Following Signor Leone's resignation on Thursday (15 June), caused by allegations of tax evasion and other financial irregularities, the strongest candidate for presidency was reported to be Christian Democratic Party Secretary, Benigno Zaccagnini. But the reports said if he drew back, as he did at the last presidential election seven years ago, the way would be clear for Senate President Amintore Fanfani, who has taken over as interim President of Italy Pending the new election. Following the news of President Leone's resignation there was mixed reaction from Italian people on the streets of Rome on Friday (16 June).
SYNOPSIS: Signore Giovanni Leone, whose term would have expired in December, is now in seclusion at his villa outside Rome. A villa which itself has been mentioned in connection with Leone's alleged fiscal irregularities. Meanwhile the Italian prime Minister, Giulio Andreotti, a potential candidate for the presidency, is reported to be anxious to avoid any suggestions of a government crisis. Speculation on a replacement for Signor Leone has started already. And with Aldo Moro dead, one of the more likely Christian Democratic candidates is acting President Amintore Fanfani.
Meetings are already underway to pick a successor to Signor Leone. Another favourite in the Christian Democrat ranks is reported to be the party Secretary Benigno Zaccagnini. But observers say it is just possible that a Socialist could become president, and there's some speculation about Republican Party leader, Ugo La Malfa. The choice will be made by an electoral college later this month. Meanwhile there has been public speculation that the resignation might be the tip of an Italian Watergate.